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Tough times for motors and drives, but mechanisation creates hope

FICKLE TIMES Businesses operating in the mining industry are forced to reduce stock availability

FICKLE TIMES Businesses operating in the mining industry are forced to reduce stock availability

Photo by Bloomberg

7th October 2016

By: Sascha Solomons

  

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The uncertainty of the mining market necessitates that motors and drives businesses, among others, limit their operating expenses while supplying products and services at minimal cost to their clients, asserts engineering and project management services provider Logiman.

Logiman MD Krzysztof Szymczak mentions that a major challenge currently is the delay of mining projects, owing to the current state of the mining industry, on account of the current decrease in demand for mineral resources worldwide.

He explains that businesses operating in the mining industry are forced to reduce stock availability. “It has become a trend to keep as little product as possible on hand to avoid financial losses.”

Logiman associate project manager Arayan Govindasamy puts forward that these challenges can be mitigated by the maintenance and refurbishment of existing equipment such as pumps. He advocates that manufacturers should design for uniformity of equipment to allow for lower spares holding during decreased operations.

Positive Developments
Szymczak points out, however, that plants are becoming more automated, employing a limited labour complement and, thus, mitigating human interface risks while improving productivity and efficiency.

Govindasamy notes, for instance, that it is becoming more common to use variable speed drives (VSDs) in controlling processes that are frequently interrupted.

According to the technology guide of independent expert on carbon reduction and resource efficiency Carbon Trust, all VSDs offer the same basic functionality, despite there being several VSD design variations.

This functionality entails converting the incoming electrical supply of fixed frequency and voltage into a variable frequency and variable voltage that is output to the motor, with a corresponding change in the motor speed and torque.

The guide details that the motor speed can typically vary from 0 rpm to 100% to 120% of its full-rated speed, while up to 150%-rated torque can be achieved at reduced speed. The motor may be controlled in either direction.
Govindasamy illustrates that technology has also become cheaper over the years, making greater mechanisation in the mining industry more viable.

“There is movement towards using more energy efficient motors and drives that reduce the carbon footprint of operations while providing cost benefits. For example, IE3-rated motors are becoming an industry standard,” he explains.

Szymczak concludes that any technology that reduces an operation’s carbon footprint and improves energy efficiency in the mining industry is a better option, which provides growth opportunities in the motors industry.

Edited by Tracy Hancock
Creamer Media Contributing Editor

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