Japanese yellow metal equipment manufacturer Komatsu and its subsidiary, mining equipment solutions provider MineWare, launched the first factory-fitted payload management system – the Argus PLM – during the bauma 2019 trade fair, held in Germany last month.
The Argus PLM drives whole-of-mine improvement by increasing loading tool productivity and efficiency, which ultimately lowers the cost per tonne.
Argus PLM is an original-equipment manufacturer (OEM) version of the MineWare Argus monitoring system designed exclusively for the Komatsu range of hydraulic excavators.
MineWare marketing and sales VP Roy Pater tells Mining Weekly that mining operators need world-class technology solutions to improve productivity, reduce costs and increase their global competitiveness.
By uniting Komatsu and MineWare capabilities, clients are offered the opportunity to have production improvement technology fully integrated when ordering a new machine to achieve these benefits.
“Argus PLM enables OEMs, such as Komatsu, to deliver a superior and unrivalled machine for the mining industry while shifting technology development further towards tele-remote and autonomous mining operations.”
Pater adds that Argus PLM integrates seamlessly with Komatsu’s Komtrax operating system and forms part of the on-board display. “This delivers actionable production information, in real time, from the machine directly to the operator. If the mine site has suitable connectivity, this information can be transmitted back to the site office.”
The system further provides mining personnel on and off site with greater production visibility and performance benchmarking data to monitor and understand how to improve machine productivity.
More than 280 MineWare systems currently support more than 130 surface mining operations throughout South Africa, North and South America and Australasia.
Meanwhile, market demand for MineWare’s Argus shovel-based payload monitoring systems continues to grow, with the company having witnessed a steady increase in demand over the past two years. More than 300 such systems are now deployed across major mining regions worldwide, says Pater.
Shovel-based payload monitoring systems provide operators and technical support teams with the assurance of reliable real-time payload and automated time use tracking that most other systems cannot provide. They also allow for well-trained shovel and excavator operators to consistently fill the trucks with a smaller variation in the final truck load, Pater says.
He explains that MineWare is also noting a major shift in its industry as mining companies turn to digital technologies and actionable data to improve their productivity and reduce their cost per tonne.
“The digitalisation of mining has been a major driver in the growing demand for MineWare’s Argus system,” Pater enthuses.
Argus is an independent, fully interoperable system that improves productivity and efficiency by managing machine payload, mine compliance and machine health. It delivers a consistent, real time 3% bucket payload accuracy and requires minimal recalibration (less than once a year). It further provides significantly more benefits than traditional strut-based truck payload systems.
“Argus adds value to the load and haul process by enabling shovel and excavator operators to improve mine plan compliance, for example, to ‘dig to plan’.”
Argus also visualises the mine plan on the operator screen and provides the operator with real-time guidance to reduce under- and overdigging. He mentions that its material classification feature also ensures that the right material can be moved at the right time to the right place.
Pater reiterates that mine planning plays a pivotal role in the high-performance output of mining operations. Poor planning can have a downstream effect on productivity, often leading to low-grade material being prioritised over the higher-grade material that is of higher value.
Meanwhile, Pater believes that there is a lack of dedicated, purpose-built technology solutions in the mining industry, with a lot of software having been developed for commercial or industrial applications, but which is then applied to the mining sector.
These solutions do not always realise the value that was originally proposed to the mine because the software is not fit for purpose, Pater argues.
Consequently, MineWare technology is built on a solid platform of hardware and software that is continuously updated to reflect team insights and client feedback.
South African Market
As the local mining sector continues to look towards mining technologies to improve safety and productivity, Pater states that MineWare has noticed a rapid growth in demand for the Argus system.
He attributes this to the company’s global support model, which provides clients with 24/7 remote support and a dedicated technical account manager to ensure that operators are getting the most out of the system and it is adopted throughout the site.
“We have had great success with Argus in South Africa in the past six months. We were recently awarded the preferred supplier for ten Argus hydraulic systems, solidifying our position in the iron-ore market,” Pater concludes.