Tag Archives: Dr John Russell

RUSSELL MINERAL EQUIPMENT to highlight mill relining engineering progress in 40-year anniversary campaign

Mill relining systems OEM, RUSSELL MINERAL EQUIPMENT (RME), has launched a global campaign celebrating the company’s upcoming 40-year anniversary, highlighting its engineering and pioneering progress from the past four decades.

RME Founder, Executive Chairman and Chief Engineer, Dr John Russell, said: “Since 1985, RME has innovated mill relining technologies and services with an unwavering commitment to improving the safety and productivity of our customers’ operations and the safety and development of our people. We are also proud of the local jobs we have created, our contribution to Australia’s sovereign industrial capabilities, and our efforts to better the communities in which we operate.

“It has taken 40 years of persistent innovation and enduring commitment from an exceptionally talented team at RME, forward-thinking customers and reliable suppliers.”

Launching today, the “40 Years of Innovation | We are RME” year-long campaign will showcase RME’s ground-breaking engineering innovations, the stories of the people who have made them possible, and the impact they have had on safety and productivity.

The anniversary campaign will also explore how RME continues to shape the future of the industry with pioneering innovations that enhance its customers’ ability to produce minerals, like copper, necessary for the energy transition. This includes RME’s recently announced world-first semi-automated mill relining system. It enables faster mill relining and unmatched safety with zero personnel required inside the mill during liner

To mark the launch of the campaign, RME is releasing a new “We are RME” film. Featuring RME team members and local suppliers, the film shines a light on the characteristics, achievements and aspiration that set RME apart.

One of 25 RUSSELL TWIN Mill Relining Machine sets, where two machines work side-by-side as a system to increase the speed of the relining process

RME Non-Executive Director Dr Peter Rubie, who held the role of Chief Engineer at RME until 2019, said: “Whether it’s our 400 kg RUSSELL Mill Liner Handlers or 10-t-capacity RUSSELL Mill Relining Machines, our durable technology solutions are built to last with 90% of those we’ve manufactured in the past 40 years still in operation.

“In partnership with our customers, we have set new industry-wide safety standards. And with safety continuing to drive the evolution of our advanced technologies, we can now perform liner exchange with zero personnel inside the mill.

“RME was founded on the belief that we can make things better. Through ‘juntos’, meaning our togetherness, collaborating across RME teams and with industry, we continue to push the boundaries and pioneer new means to continually improve industry safety standards and productivity gains for mill relining.”

RME aspires to improve the human condition through responsible access to metals at lower cost, it says.

Dr Russell added: “It’s an aspiration that sees us charged with the responsibility of our people and customers’ safety and wellbeing. And in the race to a carbon neutral future, it sees us charged with the responsibility of enhancing our customers’ ability to meet the growing demand for the metals and minerals essential for the energy transition.

“Furthermore, RME’s liner exchange machines are electro-hydraulically powered, and unlike fossil fuel-driven mining equipment, are ready for sustainable energy sources without requiring power system modifications.

“RME believes that future development must balance social, economic and environmental sustainability for the ongoing improvement of the human condition. That same belief underpins our inventions.

“Through collaboration with our customers and suppliers, we have made mill relining safer and faster, while also positively impacting local jobs, livelihoods and living standards in the regions where we operate.

“Forty years on, we remain steadfast in our aspiration as the world strives for a carbon neutral future.”

John Russell founded RME in 1985 in Toowoomba, Queensland, setting out to mechanise the mill relining process to improve safety, shorten reline times and increase mine site profitability. Through a dedicated and highly skilled team, loyal and forward-thinking customers, and dependable suppliers who are integral to RME’s success, RME has grown to support customers in 64 countries, with 13 international sales and service centres, employing more than 450 people worldwide. Today, there are more than 440 mine sites across the planet served by RME’s equipment and services, including more than 570 RUSSELL Mill Relining Machines.

From enabling the development of larger liners that reduced the total number of pieces requiring change out to the creation of larger SAG mills, RME’s suite of mill relining technologies have changed grinding mill relining, globally.

RME heralds ‘world-first’ semi-automated mill relining system deployment

Mill relining systems manufacturer RUSSELL MINERAL EQUIPMENT (RME) has deployed what it says is the world’s first semi-automated mill relining system, delivering significant safety and commercial outcomes for its customer and the wider industry.

The reduction in mill relining risks and shutdown duration was achieved through a combination of: roboticising RME’s mature and proven technologies; compatible liner and bolt design; and strong collaboration and change management with site management and reline crews.

RME says its automated system addresses the two main phases of mill relining: worn liner removal and new liner placement, and enables the completion of these necessary maintenance processes without anyone inside the mill. This system was developed and implemented in close collaboration with some of RME’s existing customers, including PT Freeport Indonesia (PT-FI).

RME Founder, Executive Chairman and Chief Engineer, Dr John Russell, describes the new paradigm for fast, automated mill relines as the ultimate in safety and improved commercial performance for concentrators.

He said: “RME’s goal has been to enable our customers to reline mills with no one inside, providing them with remarkable safety and efficiency benefits. By eliminating human-machine interaction, we can speed up the machines and relining processes, consistently and repeatably. This advanced capability is now a reality.

“We are grateful to our customers, and to our liner and bolt technology partners, for their shared commitment to achieving these results. I would also like to recognise and thank our team at RME who has made our shared vision a reality.”

The results achieved to date can be attributed to RME’s systems engineering approach, it says. Safety inside and outside the mill was the priority and every step was carefully reviewed according to RME’s 24 Steps to Mill Relining Standard.

“We understood from our 35-plus years as an OEM that to safely automate mill relining, we would need to consider the many interdependent tasks across the entire process,” Russell added.

“The engineering result is now a tightly-integrated system of advanced modular technologies that automate manual repetitive tasks, eliminate risks and speeds-up relining.”

Consequently, RME’s automated system enables a staged implementation whereby upgrades happen within planned maintenance windows over multiple reline events. This ensures customers will not experience additional costly mill downtime scenarios.

One major advantage of RME’s semi-automated mill relining system is that its underpinning technologies are well-established and well-used by the industry, according to the company.

Dr Peter Rubie, who held the role of Chief Engineer at RME until 2019 and is a Non-Executive Director at RME, played a key role in the development of the company’s automation technologies.

“Mining can be conservative when adopting new technologies, due to economic risk,” Dr Rubie said. “For some of our customers, even one hour of downtime can cost upwards of $200,000 of production. We can avoid these impacts by automating existing proven systems. The beauty of RME’s mill relining technologies ecosystem is that the elements are modular and future-proofed. Miners of all sizes can deploy the base components and then incorporate additional automation steps at their own pace.”

The centrepiece of RME’s semi-automated mill relining system – the RUSSELL 7 Model R AutoMotion™ Mill Relining Machine (MRM) – is a highly advanced configuration of the industry’s most adopted 7-axis liner exchange machine, the RUSSELL 7 MRM.

It is complemented by THUNDERBOLT SKYWAY, a semi-automated knock-in system used on the exterior of the mill. Operational since 2020 at sites in Central America and Indonesia, SKYWAY is well-proven, the company says. This technology is now also available as a portable lift-in solution called THUNDERBOLT SKYPORT. It is another automation of RME’s established technology that increases asset utilisation by being sharable between mills onsite.

These systems, working together with INSIDEOUT™ Technology tooling and compatible liner and bolt design, can grab knocked-in worn liners off the shell or from the charge, and place new liners against the shell with millimetre precision and without personnel working inside the mill, according to the company. The securing of liners, nuts and bolts from the mill’s exterior can also now be achieved using RME BOLTBOSS.

RME has been collaborating with customers across several sites to progressively automate mill relining, including upskilling their customers’ local crews.

Analysis of historical reline shutdown data using conventional relining methods, compared with filmed data using some, but not all, of RME’s automated mill relining technology suite, reports a 65% risk reduction for activities inside the mill and 30% productivity uplift for a 38 ft SAG mill, RME says.

Following a staged implementation, PT-FI recently completed its first reline using the combination of THUNDERBOLT SKYWAY and the RUSSELL 7 Model R AutoMotion MRM. While the performance data is currently being analysed, early indications point to an even greater reduction in risk and increase in productivity than was originally targeted.

Director Metallurgy and Strategic Planning at Freeport-McMoRan, Dr John Wilmot, summed up the outcomes FCX is seeing as safer and faster mill relining at the recent SAG 2023 conference in Vancouver, Canada.

“PT-FI Indonesia has largely removed crew from inside the mill as we reline,” he said. “While there are still a few residual activities where we need to enter, such as wash-down, we’re executing relines faster and safer than before. Mill relining is no longer on the critical path.

“RME’s modular systems approach enabled us to progressively implement the technology, which meant we could quantify the safety and productivity improvements at each reline event, even as the new technology was being deployed.

“The staged implementation also provided an opportunity to create strong buy-in from our reline crew. In our experience, when the crew is part of the optimisation journey, the change program is infinitely more successful. At PT-FI Indonesia, our reline crew has now taken full ownership of the process.

“Leveraging RME’s equipment and methodologies, as well as the compatible liner and bolt designs, our crew has experienced the difference that automation can make. They’ve found it to be safer and faster, and they won’t go back to conventional methods. We’re incredibly proud of their work. By collaborating closely with all the stakeholders involved, we are engineering the risk out of mill relining.

“We believe RME’s collaborative and staged approach can serve as a model for the mineral processing industry. It is already achieving step-changes in safety and mill availability for our customers and we’re excited to see the impact it may have industry-wide.”

Dr Russell concluded: “We have now completed more than 30 real world relines using the various products of RME’s Advanced Technology suite. It gives me the confidence to present our system as the safest solution for our industry. And the data we’re seeing from the 30-plus relines, gives me the confidence to state that this system better for productivity.

“The transition to net zero requires an enormous increase in the minerals that are essential to the decarbonisation of our economies. We are delighted to be able to play a part in safely speeding up the production of those minerals. We’ve achieved these results in partnership with our customers, using the same pioneering mindset with which we’ve approached the past 35 years.”