Digital insights are delivering step changes in the efficiency of material handling operations through integrated processes and proactive maintenance services
Digitalization will play a major role in the future of the material handling in mining. It will be key, not only in delivering mines to the next level of efficiency, but it will also initiate changes in the industrial landscape going forward.
Sven Demmig, global head of minerals solutions at Siemens, discussed the trends taking place with material handling operations.
“We already see a clear trend of process integration through applying digital technologies vertically and horizontally,” he explained. “This delivers complete integration through all the technical hierarchies, from the field level up to enterprise resource planning (ERP), as well as complete integration in plant lifecycle management, from design up to operations. This improvement will make significant OPEX and CAPEX savings possible and also open up new ways of production management. For instance, by integrating different kinds of simulation technologies, a beneficiation process can be tested and even fine-tuned before production starts.”
The benefits can also extend across the value chain. For example, using digital insights, production management can be conducted end-to-end based on the market needs and price realization possibilities; the digitalization journey in mining is just beginning.
Demmig pointed out that digitalization also has a critical role to play in decarbonizing mining — a key focus for most major and midtier miners at present.
“Both digitalization and electrification will be key in creating more sustainable business practices,” he said. “Therefore, for us at Siemens Large Drives Mining, these themes are a central component of our portfolio going forward. We are working with multiple external partners to extend our portfolio and to drive the digitalization of the mining industry together. It’s an agile and fast developing area of the market, which requires openness and collaboration.”
Siemens: Integrated Expertise for Digital Mines
The challenges and opportunities associated with digitalization are unique to each client and each mine site. Every company has different needs that require different offerings.
Demmig explained: “For customers who are at the beginning of their digital journey, we support them to start building a path toward integrated digital solutions. For customers who are already in the implementation phase, we are able to offer a full suite of products and services, including engineering services based around functional requirements, and architecture design based on our multiple solutions. Complete software development can also be offered on a case-by-case basis.”
Of course, electrification, automation and digitalization were a central focus for the Siemens presence at the MINExpo tradeshow held in Las Vegas, U.S., in September 2021.
“It was great, after such a long time, to meet the mining community in person,” Demmig said. “Even with travel restrictions, the MINExpo tradeshow was a great success for us. For electrification, we showcased our innovative SIMINE solutions for mills, conveyors, mobile mining, trolley truck systems and mine hoists. We also presented our latest products and solutions for automation systems, which are customized especially for the mining industry.
“We introduced our latest developments in digitalization through our cooperation with MineSense to determine ore characteristics in real time along conveying systems, and our material and quality management system, SIMINE MAQ, SIMINE Asset Health Analytics and our SIDRIVE IQ system were also discussed.”
SIMINE Digital Twin Expands
Among the solutions planned for implementation in 2022 is the Siemens Digital Twin for mining processes. While this has been available for grinding mills for some time, the solution has been extended to incorporate the transportation and crushing portions of the process as well. Demmig explained that the integration of these processes will deliver the next level of operational improvements for mine operators.
Artificial intelligence, simulation and interaction with the user (for example, in order to store and re-use operational experiences) are just a few of the features that are now included in the SIMINE Digital Twin. Dan-Niculae Fodor, head of Siemens Minerals Portfolio Management and R&D, is leading the development of the technology.
“This year, we plan to focus on integrating the major mining processes, which are transportation, crushing and grinding,” he said. “This includes the optimization of complex mining pit-to-stockyard systems or even just simple belt conveyors. The pilot application, which will start being implemented during 2022 at a mine in the Americas, includes trucks for the first stage of transportation from the pit to the primary crusher, as well as a conveyor line with more than 10 conveyors for the further transport to stockyard.”
While grinding mills are complex and their optimization in isolation can deliver benefits, to realize a step change in production performance and keep downtime to an absolute minimum (both planned and unplanned) requires a process-level approach.
“We’re taking the experiences that we gained with our MES manufacturing execution platform that we developed about seven years ago and applying it to build out our digital-twin offering for mining,” Fodor explained. “IoT-enabled tools, such as asset health analytics for mills, which help mines reduce their costs and improve the reliability of their equipment are high on our clients’ agenda at the moment, especially given current high metal prices. Remote operating capabilities are also important in tackling personnel access and travel restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. These customer requests are some of the major factors that have guided us in developing our latest solutions.”
The beauty of working across multiple sectors including mining, infrastructure and transport, is that Siemens can draw upon and integrate its own expertise to create enhanced solutions and technologies for clients in each of its divisions.
Demmig added: “We now have a huge advantage in that we offer a full range of solutions for mission-critical mining applications like conveyors and grinding mills. In addition to providing the software and technologies for their automation and digitalization, we also provide the hardware. Combining our know-how in both areas is incredibly powerful.”
For more information on Siemens’ solutions, visit www.siemens.com/mining.
TurboGuide App Revolutionizes Coupling Management
Voith has more than a million hydrodynamic couplings in operation worldwide across heavy industry sectors like mining, petrochemicals and steel. These couplings ensure gentle startup of equipment and machines, protecting them from damage even under the most extreme conditions.
The new TurboGuide Mobile app, which was launched in October 2021, provides an intuitive interface for the efficient and comprehensive management of constant-fill fluid couplings. App users can now conveniently view all relevant data on the filling quantity of the coupling via a smartphone or tablet. The app is free to download and provides access to operating manuals, tutorials, troubleshooting, and the Voith Turbo Webshop at the touch of a button, helping mines to stay on top of their coupling fleet.
Every coupling can be captured by scanning the QR code or, alternatively, the user can enter the serial number to receive data on the specific coupling including the filling volume, filling angle, power, speed and operating fluid. The integrated filling calculator also allows the user to insert relevant data to determine the optimal filling level and angle for each coupling under different conditions.
Users can learn more about the TurboGuide Mobile app at https://voith.com/turboguide-app and download it for free from Google Play and the Apple App Store.