After a successful four-year data analysis period at an iron-ore mine in the Northern Cape, mining consulting services provider Isithelo Technical Solutions has helped the mine pre-empt and prevent unnecessary shutdowns of its reclaimer.
Isithelo provides monitoring and analysis of data related to stressed welds and joints on any type of materials handling equipment found on mine sites, including draglines, ship loaders, winders, lifts, mobile equipment, fans, mills, and crushers.
The data is collected from gauges installed by Isithelo on the equipment being monitored, and transferred and aggregated in a hardware system – PMX (PMXAutomation Measuring Systems) – where it is saved to a compatible format. The information is then sent by global system for mobile communication or WiFi, to a server where it is then analysed by the EMS Structural Monitoring mobile app and specialised fatigue experts at Isithelo’s head office in Rivonia, Gauteng.
This information is then provided in a disposable format to the mineowners and users, and used for predicting machine life and operating conditions on site.
Isithelo uses its own technology, EMS Structural Monitoring, as well as an algorithm of cyclic and fatigue stress analysis using a mathematical system that its in-house consultants and engineers are constantly refining as and when needed.
Isithelo has provided daily fatigue and stress monitoring for the reclaimer at the mine since 2014 and for other equipment since 2012, and has successfully reported on real-time issues, such as material deterioration and weld fails, and prevented false alarms as well as undue maintenance on the reclaimer.
This has resulted in improved production for the user, as well as significant savings in maintenance costs.
Following this success, Isithelo has been appointed to fit a further three reclaimers with the monitoring technology at various South African mines. Monitoring of the reclaimers is expected to start by the end of the 2018 or by early 2019.
British Standards for Fatigue codes are applied to the reclaimer that was monitored, and heavy equipment in general, and denote the way in which the fatigue life of welded elements on a machine is calculated. Because welding is often conducted under diverse environments with varying weld qualities and materials, constant monitoring of such welds is needed to prevent unscheduled shutdowns or maintenance periods.
“Our technology allows engineers off site to predict damage, equipment abuse as well as the remaining life of the equipment,” says Isithelo materials and mechanical metallurgical engineer Jose Prozzi. “We are also able to let a client know when the machine is operating above its limitations,” he adds.
Prozzi also mentions that Isithelo provides mechanical, structural, mineral residues and electrical services and basic courses on materials handling inspections, failure investigation, corrosion and welding.
Isithelo boasts a qualified field services team, many of whom have more than 30 years of mining industry knowledge and experience, and it hopes to grow to eventually host offices across the globe, Prozzi concludes.