Leading-edge technologies and solutions on display in Vegas
Dozens of Ontario mining suppliers showcased their leading-edge technologies and solutions at MINExpo 2016 to some 43,000 registered attendees representing the global mining industry – technologies ranging from battery powered mobile equipment and autonomous tramming to handheld fragmentation analysis, miner operated surveying systems, conveyor belt alignment solutions and drones that not only fly through ore passes and drifts, but also climb walls.
A Northern Ontario pavilion in the North Hall hosted 16 mining suppliers, but dozens more had larger booths of their own in the 12 halls covering some 800,000 square feet of exhibit space at the Las Vegas Convention Centre.
Hard Line Solutions drew a steady stream of visitors to a demonstration of its newest product, Teleop Auto. Sitting in a control station with joysticks and touchscreen monitors, Hard-Line Solutions staff remotely operated a loader at the NORCAT Underground Centre in Sudbury.
“Teleop Auto takes the operator completely out of danger,” said Ryan Siggelkow, senior vice-president of operations.
“It takes over the steering, the throttle and the brake functions of the machine, allowing it to drive autonomously for the tramming portion of the cycle. The loader will drive through the tunnel over and over and never hit the walls. Loading and dumping is done by the operator. When the machine arrives at the dump site, there’s an audible alarm that tells the operator to take control
“Mines are getting deeper,” said Siggelkow. “There’s no need to send people down if we don’t have to. We can leave the operator on surface and send the equipment down.”
Autonomous tramming is made possible by a wireless network and 3D scanning lasers. The operator can select views from front and rear cameras and is able to keep an eye on real-time machine performance data and diagnostics, including speed, rpms and oil pressure.
A giant monitor in front of the operator station gave visitors at the booth a view of the loader making its way through the NORCAT Underground Center 3,755 kilometres away.
In the Northern Ontario pavilion, Syed Naeem Ahmed, president of Clickmox Solutions, introduced the TILT Ranger drone, designed for 3D laser scanning and mapping underground drifts, stopes and ore passes. The tilting rotor technology with wheels allows the drone to be rolled on flat and inclined surfaces as well as hover at steep angles.
SLAM technology allows the TILT Ranger to scan and map in GPS denied areas.
Wearing goggles, the operator can view real-time video from any of three cameras on the drone.
“The TILT Ranger can be used for general mine scanning and is ideal for viewing hard to access areas, such as a drift that has caved in, where you can’t really send anyone in,” said Ahmed.
The drone was developed by Clickmox in partnership with Inkonova, a Swedish company, and has already flown in Boliden and LKAB mines, as well as at the NORCAT Underground Centre in Sudbury.
Clickmox has already sold two TILT Rangers to a mine in Peru and is working with Rio Tinto on a deployment at its Grasberg operation in Indonesia that will cut inspection time from three hours to five minutes, said Ahmed.
WipWare, a North Bay company, showcased its new iPad-compatible fragmentation analysis solution.
“We figured that most people are already carrying these devices, so what could be more handy than to work with our technology on a tablet platform with a built-in camera?” said WipWare president Tom Palangio. “You can take a picture, analyze it, send the information to the Cloud, disseminate it to whoever can benefit from it and act on the information, so it’s a game changer for the industry.
The product, WipFrag, is used for blast optimization, and downstream in the crushing, grinding and milling process.
“If you can optimize fragmentation, you’re going to end up being a low cost producer. If your fragmentation is right, your maintenance costs are going to be lower, your throughput will be higher and you’ll consume less energy,” said Palangio. “The system detects oversize material and alarms you so you can act on it.”
Sudbury-based Symboticware Inc. wowed visitors to its booth with a demonstration of Holocube technology, which offers a 3D holographic representation of a mine, real-time location of equipment and personnel, along with equipment performance, production, seismic and even biometric data such as heart rate and body temperature.
Users can zoom in to any part of the mine and view a representation of a truck or loader with overlaid diagnostic data, said Symboticware president Kirk Petroski.
The technology is up and running at Dundee Precious Metals’ (DPM) state-of-the-art Chelopech Mine in Bulgaria and in the NORCAT Underground Centre in Sudbury.
Symboticware, which is best known for its Symbot, a device that captures and transmits performance data from mobile equipment to enhance safety and productivity, has been awarded exclusive world-wide distribution rights for the holographic visualization technology by DPM spinoff, Terrative Digital Solutions.
Northern Survey Supply, a Mattawa-based company with offices in Sudbury and Toronto, took its Miner Operated Survey System (MOSS) to the global stage at MINExpo.
“MOSS is a new way of surveying that takes people away from the face, is safer and speeds up the mining cycle,” said Bruno Lafrance, senior account manager. “This is the Olympics of mining shows. Everyone we need to talk to is here, so I’m working hard to find them and introduce them to MOSS.
“We’re seeing a lot of companies putting this in their budget for next year. We just came back from Argentina and we’re working on big-scale projects across the board.”
An earlier version of MOSS has been in use by Falconbridge and its successor, Xstrata, for many years in the Sudbury Basin, but a new, more powerful and user-friendly version developed by Northern Survey Supply was introduced earlier this year.
Scoring a brief interview with Timmins-based Conveyors Plus Ltd. proved especially challenging due to the constant traffic at the company’s booth in the Northern Ontario pavilion.
A scale model of a conveyor belt propelled by a cordless drill drew a constant stream of visitors intrigued by the company’s simple solution for belt alignment.
The Sure Align Tracker senses the position of the belt and steers it back to the centre position,” said President Dave Sharp. “Alignment is a big problem with conveyor belts. When the belt tracks off to the side, it can cause a lot of damage and downtime. Our Sure Align system is simple, user-friendly, easy to install and it works.
“There are probably 10 other companies that do belt alignment work. I take their stuff out and put mine in,” said Sharp.
Tracks and Wheels Equipment Brokers, a Sudbury manufacturer of underground utility vehicles, promoted its Commander Series personnel carrier and its Torquematic Gen lll all-in-one utility vehicle that can be equipped with a wide variety of attachments, including buckets, pallet forks, man baskets and scissor lifts.
Other companies in the Northern Ontario pavilion included the The Bucket Shop, Hurley Ventilation Technologies, a full-service fan and mine air heater manufacturer, Norpro Security and Investigations, a Sault Ste. Marie company offering a full range of security and health and safety services, and Timmins-based Porcupine Canvas, a manufacturer of tents, bags, tool holders and other products for the exploration and mining industries.
Also exhibiting their products and services were Carriere Industrial Supply, a Sudbury-based bucket manufacturer, Maestro Mine Ventilation, a manufacturer of air quality measuring solutions, Pneuma Tool, a manufacturer of rock drill lubricants, and Total Equipment Services, a manufacturer of new and refurbished mobile equipment, mine control centres, jumbo panels and fan and pump starters.
Several Ontario-based mobile equipment manufacturers went to the expense of bringing product to the show, including RDH Mining Equipment, Rock Tech, Industrial Fabrication, MacLean Engineering, Joy Global, the Walden Group and Miller Technology.
Other Northern Ontario companies taking the stage were Railveyor Technologies, K4 Integration, Mobile Parts, Jannatec, Schauenberg Industries, TesMan Inc., McDowell Equipment, the Redpath Group, Mine Source Inc., Nordmin Engineering, Rocvent and Wabi Iron and Steel.
Click here to view a slideshow from the MINExpo 2016.