To account for ongoing changes within the international mining market, manufacturers must continually interact with its end users to learn what they are up against and then give them a finished product which best serves their needs. AFEX says it thoroughly understands this and “dedicates all of its time, energy and resources to the sole purpose of crafting the most ‘purpose built’ fire suppression systems possible.” The most significant recent upgrade the company has developed accordingly is the AFEX Control Unit, which combines the latest in micro-processor technology with the company’s “signature durability”, resulting in what it describes as “the ultimate system control and performance.”
Highlighting telematics integration within the industry, the AFEX Control Unit enables asset managers to track the system status alongside other key operating metrics quickly and conveniently. It is compatible with MineStar, KOMTRAX and Trimble amongst others. Beyond that, for autonomous vehicle applications, the AFEX system can be configured to discharge when signaled by the vehicle remote control.
Introduced at MINExpo 2012, the AFEX Control Unit now has over two years of field-proven application in the mining industry. It is FM approved, CE marked, and certified for use in Russia and Australia. AFEX states: “Users appreciate that all alerts are stored on the Control Unit’s internal log for subsequent troubleshooting and are shown on the LCD display in the local language, meaning they can easily be reviewed directly on the machine itself.” Compact enough for console mounting, the box itself is tightly sealed to protect the internal components, and its battery provides a year of stand-alone power. It utilises a customisable harness with standardised connectors for efficient/affordable installations and water-tight connections.
The company adds: “In a general sense, an AFEX fire suppression system is designed to protect mobile mining equipment working in the harshest conditions. One well-known example of this is its rugged stainless steel tubing which, unlike hose, does not twist or tangle among the many existing hydraulic lines. It provides a clean and organised appearance that places the nozzles in fixed positions to best reach fire hazards without interfering with routine maintenance or operation of the machine. And the tubing is nearly maintenance free, which means end users don’t have to deal with costly and time consuming hose replacements due to dry rot.”
Another cited example of the system’s real-world driven design is the nozzle with a hinged cap. This feature keeps dust and debris from interfering with operation, but just as importantly it eliminates annoying nozzle cap losses, which most fleet managers are well aware can result in MSHA citations. From the perspective of a fire-fighting strategy, AFEX says it has updated some of its recommendations in response to changing equipment technologies as well. When doing fire risk assessments, AFEX years ago began accounting for the extremely high operating temperatures of the exhaust after-treatment hardware frequently required by Tier 4 emissions standards. Dry-chemical only systems have long been the standard for heavy-equipment applications because they knock down fires quickly; however, AFEX’s dual agent systems are being more widely used today than ever before because the added liquid component cools hot surfaces, separates hydrocarbon molecules to prevent re-ignition, and creates foam that suffocates the flames. “This type of system has received tremendous approval over all, as it has a smaller physical footprint, provides greater coverage, and is generally less expensive than an equivalent all-liquid system.”