Australia-based engineering company S5 System says it is out to solve three common mining workplace problems using artificial intelligence-based technology that takes minutes to install, is affordable and offers rapid payback on investment.
The company has produced three OEM-agnostic asset management products and is advancing research and development to expand the application range of its specialised monitors, sensors and control devices.
S5 System Founder and CEO, Davoud Nassehi (pictured at the recent IMARC event), says the company’s current focus is on growing awareness of three market-ready products – BoltTight, which monitors the tightness of bolted joints; WearMon, wear liners with real-time monitoring; and GETsmart, a ground engaging tool (GET) dislodgement detection system.
They are currently being used on Western Australia mine sites by the likes of Newmont and Mineral Resources Ltd.
Nassehi says he saw an urgent need for the products in his time working in the mining and telecommunications industries.
“Knowing that industries are going to Industry 4.0, I wanted to help them transition from Industry 3.0 and increase the available insights into machinery, plant and feed processes with more realistic data to use in later lifecycle stages,” he said.
“It makes the workplace safer, more secure and more agile, and saves money by allowing users to know what’s happening in their systems, through monitoring and all the good things that are becoming possible by using IoT.”
The wireless products can be fitted to any equipment brand, are suitable for the harshest mining environments and don’t rely on cameras to provide feedback, according to S5. Installation is not dependent on existing infrastructure, Nassehi added.
“They are plug-and-play products,” he said. “They require zero maintenance, are self-diagnostic and the batteries don’t need to be replaced for years.”
BoltTight uses patented technology to constantly monitor the compression force in bolted joints. The washers are designed in standard metric and imperial sizes, and send data using ZigBee wireless technology to a hub that collects data from all the nearby washers and transfers it to the server for analysis, monitoring and data storage purposes.
Any critical failure can be detected, and a real-time audio-visual alarms notify the operation and maintenance team of the exact location of the failed bolt in the plant’s 3D models, according to the company.
“Currently, in the market, there are very few bolted-connection intelligent solutions,” Nassehi said. “Some use ultrasonic or other non-destructive test tools, which are expensive and require manually checking every joint by experienced technicians. There are smart bolt options attempted in the market, however, embedding electronics inside a bolt compromises its specification and integrity.”
“Miners have been looking for a reliable way of detecting GET failures and locating failed parts for years”
Having experienced first-hand the expensive and time-consuming job of replacing wear liners in equipment such as mills, crushers, feeders and transfer chutes, Nassehi conceived the WearMon system.
The non-invasive online condition monitoring system can be directly installed on any type of mining plant liner material such as rubber, metallic, ceramic, polyurethane and polyethylene, it claims. Via battery-powered wireless wear sensors on one of the bolts, it offers accurate real-time and historical wear data; machine learning; predictive, condition-based maintenance; suggested shutdown planning information; accurate inventory requirements; and service forecasts, Nassehi says.
“This system continuously monitors the remaining thickness at each sensor location and reports to the server,” he said. “Information then is processed on the sever and forms a basis to predict the remaining life. If the next scheduled maintenance state is pre-set, then the shutdown date can be entered directly into the software and, if there is a planned shutdown date entered into system then the software algorithm will determine which liners will need to be changed out and predict the number and location of the required material accordingly.
“Alternatively, if maintenance dates are flexible, the system generates predictions with accurate estimate of the serviceable life of the liners and suggests a replacement date.”
S5’s GETsmart system also has sensors at its foundation. They are inserted into a shovel’s GET and shrouds, and connect wirelessly to the in-cab monitor, which actively scans all sensors. When it detects a tooth break, a real-time audio-visual alarm notifies the operator and they can remotely stop the downstream crusher.
Nassehi said unlike competitor options, the GETsmart system doesn’t rely on cameras – which can get dirty very quickly in a mining environment and so impair visibility – for feedback.
“Estimated to cost the mining industry between 1-5% of total production each year, broken GET are a massive global problem for the mining industry,” he said. “Miners have been looking for a reliable way of detecting GET failures and locating failed parts for years.”