Tag Archives: Ventsim DESIGN

Ventilation on demand solutions continue to find favour, Howden says

Ventilation solutions provider, Howden, says it is continuing to register strong demand for ventilation on demand (VoD) solutions from the mining sector, on continual cost control measures, improved safety requirements and the evolving need to chart emissions underground.

The company recently added Cooling on Demand (CoD) functionality to its Ventsim CONTROL software, which reflects this market demand.

Ventsim CONTROL uses intelligent software connected to Howden or third-party hardware devices to remotely monitor, control and automate airflow heating and cooling to deliver safer, more productive, and lower cost ventilation for mines, the company says. The Ventsim CONTROL solution also offers a 3D modelling capability within the software, which helps users to better predict and control air flows based on what is evidenced in the simulation.

In the case of CoD, this means users can monitor temperatures at deeper levels and push back cooled air more efficiently.

Upon release of the solution last year, Howden said the CoD update aligned with trends it was seeing in the industry towards deeper mines requiring cooled air to achieve higher standards of health and safety for workers.

“Currently, many mines put a cooling plant at surface level and cool air regardless of its destination or where it’s needed as there aren’t intelligent controls to pinpoint the localised need, which is often at deeper levels,” Howden said. “These new controls ensure the cool air goes where it is required, saving operating and energy costs.”

The company is currently in the process of lining up a trial of this new functionality with an existing Ventsim CONTROL customer.

Howden has also won several Ventsim CONTROL contracts across the globe, including in South America, Asia Pacific and Europe, of late.

Jose Pinedo, Ventsim Sales Manager, said most of these contracts reflected the mining sector’s ongoing focus on cost control, as well as those ‘net-zero’ commitments.

“All the different sites had a payback target in mind, but some of the sites also wanted to know what the implementation of the system would do for their CO2 emissions,” he told IM.

Within Ventsim CONTROL, there is an in-built energy reporting tool to show clients their ongoing energy consumption. Following customer requests and in-house development work, Howden has been able to adapt this to generate a rolling CO2 emission indicator that clients can monitor.

“The reduction in energy correlates directly to a reduction in tonnes of CO2 emissions,” Pinedo said of the reporting tool. “This means, in addition to what the system will provide in operational terms and operating costs, it can also outline to clients how it will assist them in meeting environmental goals.”

Leo Botha, Ventsim General Manager, said the ability for Ventsim CONTROL to reduce the energy consumption associated with ventilation and the direct correlation between these savings and CO2 emission reductions is allowing Howden to assist miners in hitting their environmental goals.

“Up front, when you are having the discussion and talking to mines about energy savings, you are also directly talking about CO2 emission reductions and how this can be used in ESG reporting,” he said.

This increased carbon emission visibility, plus expectations of stricter regulations in key mining jurisdictions, is likely to lead more clients towards the use of VoD solutions, according to Pinedo.

“For instance, with Australia adopting stricter diesel particulate emissions, the industry is facing two options in terms of keeping up with legislation: either you retrofit your fleet so you’re running more efficient and ‘cleaner’ diesel engines (US Tier 4 F/EU Stage V) or electric equipment, or you increase your ventilation flow to meet the new emission requirements,” he said.

Even if a mine chose Option A – retrofitting their fleet – the ventilation flow requirements may still need to increase, Pinedo explained.

“Without a VoD system, you must have a ventilation system set up based on the required air for x number of vehicles and personnel, regardless of if they are operating at all times,” he said.

A VoD system, however, allows mines to push air only to where it is needed based on the vehicles, personnel and infrastructure in place and operating at that given time.

With more mixed fleets of mobile mining equipment expected in the future made up of battery-electric, hybrids and diesel-powered equipment, the benefits of a VoD system able to tap into existing infrastructure for telematics and positioning will be highlighted further, enabling mines to ventilate based on the type of engine/battery the machine is powered by and if there is an operator in the cab.

“What we’re offering through Ventsim CONTROL is to use all these existing tools and optimise everything to comply with where legislation is heading and the evolution of ‘net zero’ mining,” Pinedo said.

Agnico Eagle’s Fosterville mine is looking to do exactly this in what Howden says is an Australian mining first.

The operation, having already installed Ventsim CONTROL Level 3 (scheduling and flow control), is progressing to an installation that will see the mine’s tracking system integrated to Ventsim CONTROL Level 4. This will provide real-time feedback on the vehicle locations in Ventsim CONTROL to adjust the ventilation automatically based on demand.

Ventsim CONTROL software also continues to gain appreciation from customers for its safety capabilities.

“One of the features we have in Ventsim CONTROL is related to fire simulation,” Pinedo said. “We also have this in our Ventsim DESIGN software with scenario-based simulations, but the facility on Ventsim CONTROL connects to all your communication infrastructure underground to take an instant snapshot of the status as a fire is happening.

“From a planning point of view, this allows operations to have a much quicker response time based on an accurate, real-time picture of what is going on underground. This provides another tool to allow them to take the right decisions when and if needed.”

Howden bolsters Ventsim CONTROL customer support with new ‘powerful communications centre’

Howden has launched the Ventsim CONTROL™ Service desk, a “powerful communications centre” designed to, it says, strengthen customer operations’ support.

As part of its new service, every customer request will generate a code, creating a continuous queue of client requests with all necessary data. The reported issue is either resolved on the spot or escalated to a specialist, as appropriate.

“We track every incident reported, whether a software anomaly, a new feature, to suggest an improvement, or anything else,” Howden explained. “In that way, we make every effort to ensure that all requests are appropriately reviewed, prioritised and forwarded to the right team member.”

The Service desk serves as a centralised location for all customer communications, with the customer kept up-to-date on the request progress. Concerns are addressed and resolved as promptly as possible, the company explains.

Ventsim CONTROL, a software platform provides ventilation design capabilities for control and optimisation, is fully integrated with Ventsim DESIGN, a mine ventilation simulation software. It communicates to hardware devices to remotely monitor, control, and automate airflow, heating, and cooling.

Howden causes a fanfare with launch of Jetsteam AX

Howden is looking to re-enter the Australian secondary ventilation market with a bang, coming out with a new product that offers the energy efficiency, durability and smarts to help ‘future proof’ underground mines.

Its Jetstream AX secondary fans were launched across the globe this month, with service centres on the east and west coast of Australia having already received units.

Phil Durham, Global Mining Applications Engineer, said the Jetstream AX secondary fan is the missing piece to complete the full Howden ventilation puzzle.

“Howden, in the past, was heavily involved in the secondary market in Australia, but some years after exiting this space, the new Jetstream AX is filling the gap in our lineup, helping complete our total mine ventilation solution approach,” he told IM. “Howden has the Ventsim™ DESIGN software, the Ventsim CONTROL ventilation on demand software, plus all the required equipment including a comprehensive primary fan offering, mine cooling options and mine heating options.

“A global secondary fan was needed to complete the set, meaning we can now be considered a one-stop shop for miners wanting to go down the full Howden route for ventilation.”

While the Jetsteam AX will be available in all markets – bar USA where Howden already has a secondary fan offering – Howden sees it being particularly relevant for the Australian market where evolving diesel particulate emission regulations are making effective ventilation operations a must.

“These regulations will definitely affect how those mines manage, monitor and control their ventilation network,” Durham said. “The smart move would be to use their secondary fans more efficiently in terms of how and where they are locating them, which ones are operating and tightening up on where the working areas, vehicles and personnel are.

“In this respect, the Australia region is a key one in terms of the secondary fan product rollout.”

Just some of the attributes the region’s miners could benefit from, according to Howden, include:

  • The highest fan output at low power consumption, providing high efficiencies across a broad operating range;
  • A range of fans from 762-1,600 mm in diameter, with flow rates from 6.5-108 cu.m/sec;
  • Single-stage or twin-stage configuration;
  • A flexible modular design providing commonality of parts;
  • Adjustable pitch aerofoil blades to maximise operational envelope and provide reliable high-efficiency aerodynamic performance across a wide range;
  • An anti-stall chamber for continued safe operation during transient high-pressure events, offering a “risk-free process” in parallel fan arrangements; and
  • Downstream guide vanes with full inner fairing tube and tail cone in each fan to ensure maximum static pressure regain.

Durham expanded on some of these.

“That main inner fairing tube serves a couple of purposes, with one of the main ones being a reduction in shock losses,” he said. “That same design helps from a maintenance perspective, too, providing protection for the motor. In other ventilation fan designs, the motors are exposed to the dusty mine air. The inner tube provides a good level of protection, without being a totally sealed environment. Some air gets through for motor cooling purposes, but it is much less than your typical exposed fan.”

The option of a dual-speed fan could also be important for gaining sales in Australia given there are limited variable speed drive options in this market than others, according to Durham.

“In Australia, specifically, variable speed control is not a very common option due to the required 1,000 V supply,” he said. “Currently there are no proven reliable variable speed drives at such voltages.”

This dual-speed fan offering provides the mines with high and low speed settings – with high typically employed to, for example, clear blasting gases and low employed when a vehicle leaves the airway, and the ventilation demand reduces.

To get the best out of dual-speed fans, mines will most likely require remote access to easily switch from one setting to the next, according to Durham.

Miners that understand the benefits of using dual-speed fans – reducing energy consumption and costs – will also, most likely, be potential customers for Howden’s ventilation on demand and smart ventilation solutions, namely Ventsim CONTROL.

“We are definitely seeing an increase with the number of mines looking to adopt these new technologies and smarter ventilation control methods,” Durham said. “As they are moving towards digitalisation and automation of mining methods, ventilation is also coming into that equation. This is especially so when you consider that the energy cost coming from ventilation and cooling can be around 50% of the mine’s total expense.”

The use of effective secondary fans is part of that exercise, according to Durham, who said efficiencies of over 85% are possible with these units when used optimally.

“Although the primary fans are generally a much higher kilowatt rating, these mines usually have quite a number of secondary fans in operation,” he said. “Being able to use them in a smarter way on a day-to-day basis means they will be able to make some large savings there.”