Tag Archives: GET

MotionMetrics-BeltMetrics

Weir eyes game-changing energy intensity reductions with ore characterisation project

With an extensive footprint from the rock face all the way through to tailings, it was only a matter of time before the Weir Group decided to enter the ore sorting game.

In recent years, the company has re-focused as a pureplay mining and aggregates company that can provide value throughout the flowsheet.

The company ditched its oil & gas exposure and added to its process plant and tailings remit with the acquisition of ESCO, a front-end-focused mining technology company with leading market share in the ground engaging tool (GET) segment.

Having more recently incorporated Motion Metrics into the mix – now within the ESCO division – it is embarking on a project that could have positive ramifications throughout the wider Weir Group offering.

Motion Metrics is a developer of artificial intelligence (AI) and 3D rugged machine vision technology. Its smart, rugged cameras monitor and provide data on equipment performance, faults, payloads and rock fragmentation (read: particle size distribution (PSD)). This data is then analysed using embedded and cloud-based AI to provide real-time feedback to the mining operation.

Initially developed for GET applications, these technologies have recently been extended into a suite of products and solutions that can be applied from drill and blast through to primary processing. Motion Metrics has, in the process, built up an impressive customer base and income stream, performing well since the acquisition.

Weir has outlined a £500 million-plus ($604 million-plus) emerging digital market opportunity for the entity, with much of this hinged on rugged machine vision technology, its sophisticated digital platform and the ability to add ore sensing to its offering.

This became clear at the company’s recent Capital Markets Day during a presentation from Chris Carpenter, VP of Technology for Weir ESCO.

Sensing, not sorting

At this event, Carpenter said the company was combining Motion Metrics’ PSD capability with ore characterisation technology to explore high-value opportunities for its clients.

“Looking further out, we believe ore characterisation…has the potential to transform mining by moving less rock, using less energy and creating less waste,” he said during his presentation. “Ore characterisation technology, which is underpinned by sophisticated sensing systems, captures critical data on properties and composition of rock, including rock hardness and mineral and moisture content.”

“When coupled with Motion Metrics fragmentation analysis technology, it has the potential to be a game changer, giving miners a full picture of the size and characteristics of rocks.”

Weir has outlined a £500 million-plus emerging digital market opportunity for Motion Metrics, with much of this hinged on rugged machine vision technology, its sophisticated digital platform and the ability to add ore sensing to its offering

This concept is not new. Measuring the quality of ore has been spoken of for decades and, more recently, has become a reality with the likes of MineSense, NextOre, IMA Engineering, Scantech, Malvern Panalytical and Rados International, among others, all having trialled technology or deployed commercial solutions across multiple commodities and sites.

Metso Outotec, one of Weir Minerals’ big competitors in the plant and tailings arena, has also spoken of the potential for bulk ore sorting by using its existing portfolio of material handling modules, crushing stations, mobile crushing equipment and bulk material handling solutions as the basis, while incorporating sensors from other vendors.

Weir believes it is one step ahead of its OEM counterpart in its pursuit of ore sorting, even if Carpenter is only referring to the trials currently being conducted at an unnamed copper mine as “ore characterisation” studies.

“With the acquisition of Motion Metrics, what we essentially bought was the ruggedised vision systems used in both mobile and fixed applications,” he told IM in January. “While the ore sensing piece is by no means trivial, the integrated AI capabilities and digital infrastructure that allows the data to be transported via a variety of avenues is incredibly important.

“Being able to pick up the data is one thing but being able to transport that data to the right people in a secure, accurate and timely manner is something different altogether.”

With a portfolio that includes LoaderMetrics™, BeltMetrics™, TruckMetrics™ and CrusherMetrics™, Motion Metrics and the Weir ESCO R&D team had several potential applications to start its ore characterisation journey with.

The company has settled on a BeltMetrics installation for its first trial, with Carpenter confirming the sensing solution under the microscope is currently positioned above a conveyor that is directly after the crusher in the flowsheet.

“We feel we will learn quickest over a conveyor belt, so it is really an expansion of the existing BeltMetrics solution that we will start with,” he said.

The sensing options open to Motion Metrics for this trial were also vast, with the aforementioned ore sorting vendors using the likes of X-ray Fluorescence, magnetic resonance, prompt gamma neutron activation analysis, pulsed fast thermal neutron activation, and others within their solutions.

Motion Metrics has chosen to incorporate hyperspectral imaging into its PSD mix.

Carpenter explained: “When you think about ore characterisation, we are just moving from a visual spectrum base with Motion Metrics vision-based systems to the expanded light spectrum for gathering data and making decisions. This is all being built on the established digital platform the company has.”

The company is not alone in using this type of technology. MineSense has spoken of trials using multispectral sensing technologies, while Australia-based Plotlogic has been tapping hyperspectral imaging to provide precision orebody knowledge prior to mining.

Collaborating on energy intensity reductions

Safety, scalability and flexibility were three factors taken into account with the hyperspectral imaging decision, but Carpenter was also aware of the potential limitations in using such technology.

Mines will need to be willing to make some changes and invest in alternative infrastructure to leverage the most value out of the solution the company is putting forward.

“That is where productivity partnerships that we spoke about on the Capital Markets Day are going to be really important,” he said. “It is going to be essential to collaborate with customers.”

The initial collaboration with the trial mine site looks to be extensive, stretching from the back end of December throughout 2023.

The site is already equipped with a significant amount of Weir Minerals and ESCO equipment, so the collaboration appears to have started well before this trial.

“Throughout the year, we will have the opportunity to make enhancements; starting out with an initial system that is upgraded,” Carpenter said. “By the end of the year, we should have high confidence of having something ready to commercialise. It could also be that we have other trials running concurrently with this one to extend the learnings.”

The two primary key performance indicators for the trial surround accuracy and speed, with Carpenter saying the company is targeting to at least meet the metrics competing technologies have been promoting over recent years.

“In both cases, we are well equipped to measure both and – in the initial phase – we are performing well,” Carpenter said.

“Right now, when they (the mine site) carry out an assay, they have to stop the conveyor belt, take a sample off and send it to a lab. At best, the feedback takes hours, if not days. Motion Metrics has done a really good job of building the sensors, algorithms and platforms to process the data coming from above that belt very quickly.”

There are a team of very experienced, PhD-equipped personnel currently working on this trial, monitoring the real-time results from Motion Metrics’ base in Vancouver, however there is a Weir network across the globe watching and waiting for news.

A sensor above a conveyor belt able to provide ore characterisation data is step one. Step two will most likely involve leveraging this data to provide insights as well as initiate downstream actions.

Then, there is the potential to equip these sensors for the pit on an excavator or wheel loader – which introduces many additional challenges both Motion Metrics and ESCO are aware of. Understanding exactly what is in the bank or going in the bucket will be critical to improving operational efficiencies.

These are longer-term goals that Motion Metrics, ESCO, Weir Minerals and Carpenter are cognisant of – and excited about – that may provide the true value to customers throughout the flowsheet.

“What is exciting for us is that – as may be obvious – the further upstream you can make some good decisions, the more energy you can save downstream,” he said. “As you get into some of the other processing elements in the plant, there are sustainability benefits to be had – a more efficient use of reagents to liberate the elements, a more efficient grinding setup based on ore characteristics, a reduction in water use, etc.

“The driver for this has really been sustainability and energy reduction. It is all about reducing the energy intensity associated with ore.

“We feel we are well equipped and in a good position to deliver on this and provide the industry with the step change in sustainability that it requires.”

Epiroc to acquire Australia-based GET player CR

Epiroc is bolstering its exposure to the ground engaging tools (GET) market through the planned acquisition of Australia-based CR.

The company has agreed to acquire the GET and related digital solutions company as part of a plan to expand its “first-rate offering” of essential consumables and digital solutions, it says.

CR, which has an offering covering surface and underground mining, is headquartered in Brisbane and operates globally. The company’s products include cast lips, teeth, and protective shrouds installed on mining buckets and loaders. Its digital solutions include, among other offerings, the real-time GET loss detection system, GET Trakka, and the Titan 3330 payload management system. The solutions strengthen safety and productivity, and protect against expensive delays in the mining operations, according to CR.

CR has about 400 employees and had revenues of about A$240 million ($163 million) in the 12 months ending September 30, 2022.

“This acquisition will expand our offering of innovative and high-quality consumables and digital solutions that strengthen customers’ productivity and safety,” Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s President and CEO, says. “We look forward to welcome the strong team at CR to Epiroc.”

The acquisition is expected to be completed in the first half 2023.

Byrnecut and Sandvik collaborate on new MAKO ground engaging tool

Sandvik, with the help of Australia-based mining contractor, Byrnecut, has developed a new and improved Ground Engaging Tool (GET) that, the OEM says, reduces downtime and cost-per-tonne mined.

Over a four-year period, Byrnecut has been instrumental in the development of this new system, MAKO™.

In underground mining, wear and tear is unavoidable, and nowhere is it sharper than for the buckets and the shrouds fitted to loaders.

In the most abrasive conditions, the shrouds can wear out in just a few hundred hours of work. Replacing them – especially when they are welded on – can take multiple shifts: valuable hours where the machine is out of action and productivity dented.

To speed up this process, in 2001, Sandvik introduced its Shark™ range of Blue Pointer™ ground engaging tools (GET) – becoming the first retensionable shroud system for the underground market. Blue Pointer can be summarised as shrouds using mechanical fixings that are significantly faster to replace, Sandvik says.

Even though Sandvik says the system was the market leader in underground mining, it still looked to improve upon the Blue Pointer.

With that in mind, in 2018, Sandvik set about developing a replacement, MAKO, collaborating with internationally renowned specialist mining contractor, Byrnecut.

MAKO continues the shark theme – with a Mako being a shortfin predator – and brings with it several advantages: an innovative patented locking mechanism, hammerless removal system, cast corners improvement (patented) and additional wear indicator, to mention a few.

By far the biggest improvement in terms of reducing downtime and cost-per-tonne mined can be found in the MAKO corner shrouds. Normally, corners – which have a much harder life – tend to wear out and need changing at the mid-life point, compared with the rest of the shrouds. In extreme conditions an additional two ‘half corners’ can be needed for every set of normal shrouds. But thanks to improved material and design, with MAKO there is no need for part-life replacement corners, according to Sandvik.

These improvements have been put to the test in the field, with Byrnecut instrumental in putting prototypes through their paces. The contractor trialled the concept at one of its most abrasive sites – the Capricorn copper mine near Mount Isa in Queensland, Australia.

“Sandvik came along with a team of engineers and said: ‘Right, are you willing to help us develop MAKO?”, Gary Boswell, Byrnecut’s Chief Maintenance Supervisor at the mine, said. “So, we got on board and had a good working relationship with Sandvik. Right from the start we were looking for the same outcome – to lower total-cost-of-ownership and achieve a 1:1 [corner:shroud] ratio, so that we only changed corners when we changed all the other shrouds.”

The Capricorn mine has five Sandvik loaders (LH621s) fitted with 10.7 cu.m buckets. Boswell expects to get 7,500 hours out of a bucket and, because of the aggressive nature of the rock, replaces the GET every 500-550 hours, on average. That is roughly 14 sets of MAKO per bucket life. So, making them last longer and easier to change in one go can make a significant difference to downtime and cost over that lifetime.

MAKO has not achieved its durability performance by simply adding more metal; it’s put metal where it matters. The overall MAKO system also has a very favourable weight/performance ratio, according to Sandvik.

The first MAKO GET was fitted at Byrnecut’s Capricorn site in January 2019. Despite the remote location, the buckets were monitored by Sandvik experts on a weekly basis. It soon became clear that the new range was especially durable – lasting, on average, 12% longer than the best of the rest, as well as avoiding the need for half-life corner shrouds, according to the OEM.

The first MAKO GET was fitted at Byrnecut’s Capricorn site in January 2019

“The first prototype we thought was okay, but there is still room for improvement,” Michael McCormick, the Shark Loadmaster who was hands-on with the development of MAKO, said. “The feedback we got from Gary [Boswell] and the team at Capricorn really helped us understand the issues they were having. When something cropped up, we could quickly develop a short-term ‘hotfix’, before developing a longer-term solution. For instance, we found an opportunity to improve the locking system and had to adapt the pin assembly to ensure the push-off feature was truly hammerless.

“As is natural, we had some performance issues with earlier prototypes, and it took us a couple of goes to get it right. But the ability to work in real time with Gary’s team was the key to enabling us to respond rapidly with quick fixes and validating their effectiveness.”

Boswell concluded: “Safety is paramount, and we did not want our guys hammering or using oxyacetylene to get the shrouds off. But Sandvik fixed that with the push-off feature that can handle worn-out GETs; even those with lifting lugs eroded through use. The issue of transporting heavy shrouds has also been resolved by a new lifting device, which is very effective.”

Sandvik added: “When, like Byrnecut at the Capricorn mine, you are using several hundred [GET] sets each year, the MAKO’s collective benefits add up to significant productivity, cost, time and safety enhancements. The cleve design of MAKO, perfected in the field, helps keep buckets meet their availability and productivity targets.”

Weir ESCO breaks ground on new foundry in China

Weir ESCO has broken ground on a new foundry in China that, it says, will build capacity and support increased demand for ESCO ground engaging tools (GET), while retaining 100% of its experienced team.

Employees, dignitaries and local partners celebrated at a ground-breaking ceremony in Xuzhou, China, where Vice Mayor Gong of Xuzhou City and other elected officials, local business partners and Weir Minerals Managing Director of China, Angela Wang, were present.

The company broke ground on its new foundry in China on July 27, as the latest milestone in the future expansion of its Xuzhou site.

The project was announced in 2021, with production from the facility scheduled to start in late 2024 ahead of reaching full production in 2025.

In Weir Group’s half year results to June 30, the company noted that Weir ESCO had received a record order intake of £349 million ($426 million) for the six-month period on the back of high levels of activity in mining and infrastructure markets, plus pricing and volume growth.

CR Digital plans Titan 3330 virtual simulator mine site roadshow

CR Digital has built a virtual simulator to, it says, bring the Titan 3330 Load Haul Optimization System out to the mine site.

Players can experience Titan 3330 as if they’re the operators of a backhoe excavator, trying to hit target payloads and getting real-time feedback on their accuracy.

The experience is as realistic as possible, and players can test their skills under different weather conditions or at night, according to the company. Ground engaging tools can even fall off while operating, with players notified by GET Trakka to stop and find the component.

Unveiled at MINExpo 2021, in September, the simulator allows visitors to control an excavator using two joysticks and a large monitor, along with a real Titan 3330 screen to monitor their digging in real time.

CR’s Global Marketing Manager, Chris Mayo, said: “We had players at MINExpo who operate excavators every day, and the feedback from them was that it’s very realistic. For anyone without operator experience, it’s a fun challenge to learn the controls and start getting closer to target payloads.”

For an added challenge, players competed for the highest score based on two measures:

  • Productivity: how many tonnes were moved and how closely trucks were loaded to target payload – as scored by CR’s Orion Data Analytics; and
  • Safety: safely operating the excavator by avoiding collisions with dump trucks.

Looking forward, CR will look to bring the Titan 3330 simulator out to mine sites and directly to customers so players can continue to experience the accuracy of Titan 3330’s payload monitoring for themselves.

“Once customers see for themselves how Titan 3330 helps operators improve payloads in real time, we think there’s going to be a lot of excitement for the system, particularly as we grow our presence in North America,” Mayo said.

MTG brings GET solutions to Western Australia market with new distribution centre

Spain-headquartered MTG has opened a new distribution centre in Perth, Western Australia, in an effort to improve its global supply chain and closer align itself to key mining regions.

Confirming MTG’s commitment to the Australian market, the company says it has increased its local human resources in both its commercial and technical service.

The new centre, now 100% operational, allows improvement of availability, rapid and more efficient reaction times to changes in demand and an improved service to MTG’s authorised dealer, 2MT Mining Products, and the whole mining industry, it said.

MTG, which provides leading bucket protection solutions for mining, says it has partnered with 2MT to offer the best ground engaging tool (GET) solutions, maximising the productivity, efficiency and performance of customers’ mining equipment, while assuring the best service.

“2MT’s full coverage of the Australian market through strategically located branches, highly trained sales and support representatives, extensive on-site support, field expertise in monitoring GET and buckets is the perfect combination to meet and exceed their customers expectations,” it said.

CR gets a GRIP of GET change-outs with newest solution

CR has launched the GRIPAssist Handling device, a safety, maintenance and productivity solution designed to efficiently and safely remove and reposition ground engaging tools (GET) with a minimal requirement for human interaction.

The GRIPAssist is the flagship product of CR’s new MINEAssist product category and has been developed to revolutionise GET change-out practices around the world, the company said.

Designed to significantly reduce human interaction when handling GET in the pit or the workshop, the GRIPAssist unit fits onto a tracked skid steer or similar small in-pit mobile loader and includes an hydraulic arm that grips GET products to enable safe, quick and easy maintenance change-outs.

CR Chief Executive Officer, John Barbagallo, says the range has been specifically developed to assist its mining customers to safely and more efficiently change GET on their excavating machines.

“The GRIPAssist is the latest of our industry-leading products developed through close collaboration with our customers and associated partners,” Barbagallo said. “Through listening to our customers, we have understood the need to develop a range of safety equipment for GET maintenance change-out and have worked collaboratively to bring this industry-changing product to market.”

He added: “At CR, we bring the core value of Zero Harm into everything we do. The GRIPAssist promotes safe GET change-out and is a great equipment solution to provide genuine safe fitment and removal of all GET items.”

Quintin Nienaber, General Manager of Product Management, says the GRIPAssist could optimise the way current maintenance practices are performed.

“We have seen GET change-out times halved in our initial field tests, which is an incredible outcome while at the same time improving safety,” he said. “While the aim of the GRIPAssist is to remove human interactions during GET change-outs, the fact that it can enhance productivity by reducing downtime is a significant associated benefit and is a game-changer in how GET maintenance will be managed and scheduled in the future.”

Weir ESCO expands Nemisys tooth system offering for hydraulic excavators

Weir’s ESCO division says it has extended its Nemisys mining tooth system to a new range of excavators.

The expanded Nemisys offering serves as a direct upgrade and replacement for the SV2® system and competitor weld-on systems for plate lip hydraulic excavators, it said.

Earlier this year, the company introduced the Nemisys N70 Lip System for hydraulic excavators as it looks to expand the tooth system’s reach beyond the large mining shovels, large excavators and wheel loaders it was initially developed for.

This latest addition will see the mining tooth system support 160 ton (145 t), 200 ton (181 t) and 250 ton (227 t) excavators.

“Operating on over 700 machines worldwide, the Nemisys system has demonstrated market leadership in reliability, site safety and enhancing machine performance,” the company said.

ESCO says the Nemisys system features hammerless locking mechanisms for greater safety and easy replacement, while the slim contoured profile improves bucket loading and reduces fill energy.

“The system is also known for reducing or eliminating unplanned downtime, providing major improvement in cost reduction and balancing machine maintenance cycles,” it said.

CR readying new cast lip system for large wheel loader buckets

CR is preparing a new addition to its DecaEdge™ range of cast lip systems for large wheel loader buckets, with the new product due for public release by the end of the year.

The new DecaEdge DE2553 cast lip will complement the existing range and suit large mining wheel loader buckets with capacities between 14 cu.m and 20 cu.m, according to the company.

DecaEdge leverages the experience of CR’s RazerEdge™ cast lip range which revolutionised the market for 100 t to 400 t excavator lip and ground engaging tool (GET) systems, the company said. CR already has two lips in the market for the Komatsu L1850 and L2350, WA1200 and Cat 994 wheel loaders.

With over 160,000 combined operating hours and counting, a DecaEdge lip can last for up to 25,000 operating hours with no major rebuilds, according to the company. The system removes outdated plate lip features by employing integral cast noses and better material placement to achieve plane alignment and spade angle optimisation, delivering an over 33% reduction in total cost of ownership of the lip and GET system, according to CR’s General Manager of Product Management, Quintin Nienaber.

“It also eliminates the need for wear blocks and wear packages,” Nienaber says. “The specially designed teeth and shrouds are designed to also protect the lip, which means that every time a ground engaging tool is replaced, the underside wear package is refreshed, simplifying the maintenance process and reducing the demand on maintenance teams,” Nienaber says.

CR said the DecaEdge DE2553 is anticipated to uphold the durability and maintenance savings benefits experienced with the current DecaEdge range.

“CR is excited to broaden the range of this revolutionary technology,” it added.

Caterpillar bolts on new robust GET for large LHD buckets

Caterpillar is introducing a heavy duty bolt-on half arrow ground engaging tool (GET) for large underground loaders working in extreme applications.

The BOHA65 joins a complement of Cat BOHA GET designed for the entire line of Cat LHDs, the company says.

BOHA65 features extended wear life. For Example, BOHA65 segments for a Cat R2900 LHD have 35% more wear material than BOHA50 for the same loader. Trials in a hard-digging block cave application in Australia indicate that BOHA65 delivers extended, productive life in proportion to the additional wear material.

The entire line of Cat BOHA GET are designed for high abrasion applications where weld-on GET experience high wear rates. “With a proven and reliable retention system, the bolt-on GET offer more wear material that is also more abrasion resistant than standard weld-on GET,” the company says. “Testing has shown an average of more than 40% additional wear life compared to weld-on options.”

The bolt-on design enables simple and fast removal and replacement. After the base edge has been welded to the bucket initially, BOHA installs with two or three bolts per tip, according to Cat.

“An average weld-on set of cutting edges can require more than 20 hours to replace, and the process entails highly skilled work,” the company says. “BOHA takes 1 to 2 hours to replace and requires no welding. Ease of GET replacement encourages changeout before the base edge is damaged and downtime and costs mount.”

For example, a gold mine in western Canada calculated that Cat BOHA, compared with its traditional weld-on system, reduced bucket and GET cost per operating hour by 39%. BOHA GET had 2.5 times the life of the weld-on GET. Additionally, machine availability increased due to a 75% reduction in time to replace wear components, Cat added.

“BOHA GET enhance productivity in additional ways,” the company says. “The segments are designed to minimise carrying weight while keeping the bucket protected and, despite additional wear material, the low-profile front edge eases pile penetration and promotes fast bucket loading.”

Built-in wear indicators provide quick, ground level inspection of wear, while corner guards protect the sides and extend the service life of the cast corners used on larger loaders.

Additionally, corner segments have extended wear material designed to match the profile of Cat heel shrouds for ultimate protection in applications where cleaning up spillage is a frequent task, Cat says.

The BOHA GET are complemented by the use of additional Cat protection systems such as heel shrouds, mechanically attached wear plate systems, and wear bars.