Lase scanning iron ore rail wagons for Vale at Ponta de Maderia port in Brazil

Germany-based Lase has received another order from iron ore giant Vale, with its 3D laser measurement systems now scanning train wagons at the Ponta de Madeira port in Sao Luis, Brazil.

LaseRCDs have been installed to ensure foreign objects – such as humans, animals and tree branches – do not sneak into the cargoes that are destined for international steel markets.

Before the iron ore arrives in Sao Luis, it is transported by train out of the world’s biggest open-pit iron ore mine at Vale’s S11D, in Carajas. One train can total up to 3.3 km in length and consist of 330 wagons, meaning a manual scan is a time-consuming process.

In the port terminal of Sao Luis so called ‘O-type rotary tandem dumpers’ are used, in which two cars/wagons can be unloaded at once without uncoupling through rotating couplings.

For the unloading process, Vale required a measurement system able to both determine unexpected objects on top of the material in a wagon and to undertake “emptiness control” following unloading.

For this solution at tandem dumpers, Lase uses two 3D laser scanners mounted centrally above each wagon as well as the software application LaseRCD, which collects the scanner data and carries out all needed calculations.

“When the wagons are positioned inside the dumper and being fixed by clamps, the laser scanners measure the surface of the material by 3D scan planes and detect it for unexpected objects,” Lase said.

“If nothing is detected, the application signals the prior PLC to tip over the wagons. Afterwards, the emptied wagons roll back to their initial position and the further emptiness control is triggered, where the inner surface of the wagon is scanned and a 3D scan profile image is created.”

This scan is compared with an internally stored image of a totally empty wagon.

“In case of any difference by remaining material inside the wagon, the application generates a signal (three levels of non-emptiness signals) and sends volume data of the remaining material to the PLC.

“In order to protect the laser scanners against dust and rain, they are mounted into stainless steel hoods, which clean the scanner windows by an included air pressure unit. All systems have been implemented in collaboration with our Brazilian distribution partner C+ Tecnologia,” Lase said.

Lase is gaining a good reputation in Sao Luis, with three LaseRCD systems already commissioned for ThyssenKrupp Brazil and another of Vale’s O-type rotary tandem dumpers. The company also has LaseBVC conveyor belt measuring systems in place at S11D.