Mining equipment manufacturer Eickhoff South Africa (SA) has introduced new software packages, which help clients to manage and analyse continuous miners’ key performance indicators (KPIs).
Some of these KPIs include data pertaining to shift advances, first coal, last coal, shuttle car counts and cutting rates.
The technologies comprise the EiSA Replayer and EiSA Explorer, which are Windows-based analysis and data management tools, as well as EiSA Web, a Web-based app that displays various dashboards, reports and trends on production and engineering KPIs.
Further, EiSA Reporting is a PDF-accessible reporting system that offers a comprehensive summary of the information collated by the other software packages.
This information can be used to monitor the start and end of production at every shift, production advances versus set targets, methane and water trips, as well as motor currents, besides other factors. “All of this is meant to assist operations in achieving their targets, which, in turn, translates into revenue while managing costs,” says Eickhoff Germany lead software developer Paul Kornev.
He explains that the bespoke technology packages were developed to cater for different customer requirements and can be further adjusted to meet client-specific requirements.
“To merely publish KPIs is one thing, but to build and analyse trends that assist in decision-making and with productivity improvements is another,” says Eickhoff SA MD Francois van Tonder.
“What to use the information for and how to make it beneficial for the client’s business is where the challenge and excitement lie,” he enthuses.
He elaborates that Eickhoff’s continuous miners have had the capacity to generate the digital information for many years; however, being able to harness, assess and use the information to the client’s benefit is a relatively new concept.
A testing phase for the EiSA Replayer analysis tool, conducted at JSE-listed diversified miner Exxaro Coal Central’s Dorstfontein-West coal mine, in Mpumalanga, has shown remarkable value, Van Tonder adds.
The EiSA Replayer was successfully trialled over a 30-day period, leading to Exxaro buying the tool, which will be installed this month.
The tool enables users to replay and analyse any production shift by recording the cutter head movement during every cutting cycle and monitoring the operator’s actions.
“This helps the production personnel optimise the cutting cycle, thereby improving production output,” says Exxaro Coal Central, Dorstfontein-West mine manager Chris Botha.
Van Tonder points out that the EiSA Replayer analysis tool is a “first of its kind” in the continuous miner market.
Further, Van Tonder notes that the engineers responsible for the functioning of the mine’s assets also benefit from the digital information, as they can now monitor whether the continuous miner is being used according to its design intent. They can also track the health of the continuous miner and plan for preventive maintenance.
“The EiSA Web app is very useful in managing the engineering aspect of the Eickhoff continuous miner and it is very useful to analyse certain events that have led or could lead to potential failures,” says Exxaro Coal Central, Dorstfontein-West engineering manager Louis Turvey.
The EiSA Explorer, meanwhile, can generate trend-analysis and enables Eickhoff service engineers to access up to 700 different parameters for analysis, which are subsequently communicated to the client.
Depending on the package, the raw data from the continuous miner is extracted using either a USB or powerline modems.
The information, once on the server, is prepared, reported on and displayed through a visualisation dashboard to contribute to better decision-making, better productivity and reduced costs.
“It is a matter of using the right amount of information to guide decision-making,” Van Tonder concludes.