Accuracy under pressure

Bestech’s Arend Wieringa explains how sensors are assisting the mining industries in reducing downtime and operational costs. Australian Mining looks at how the Melbourne-based company has grown over the last decade and a half.

Now a national sales manager, Arend Wieringa joined Bestech nearly a decade ago, and was the only sales engineer in the company at that time. During this time, he has seen it grow from two or three engineers with a small range of products, to a team of 15 engineers selling a wide range of specialty products for industrial automation, test and measurement nationwide.

Bestech is proud of supplying internationally renowned industrial sensors with local support in Australia. One of Bestech’s most popular product ranges are pressure sensors; including transducers, transmitters, digital gauges or switches.

This is what set the foundations of the company in place since its establishment more than a decade ago. For Wieringa, it is of utmost importance that the company keeps abreast of new technology in this field.

“We do a lot of work within the R&D departments a wide range of industries and assist them with developing test and measurement solutions for specific applications,” he explained. “We also supply engineering training and teaching equipment for universities and TAFE, as well as technical teaching facilities and schools around the country.”

Within the mining industry in particular, Wieringa and his team have seen an emerging trend and demand for low-power pressure transmitters that are ideal for integration with wireless data acquisition systems.

In response to this, Bestech has created a line of custom sensors to tailor for specific needs, especially using wireless radio frequency identification, or RFID, technology.

“I think we’ve made a real inroad into having a more flexible direct acquisition system, where we’ve got wireless sensors that have got capabilities of getting more data from many different sources, including Wi-Fi and RFID,” explained Wieringa.

“Compared to a decade ago, the sensors have now offered higher speed, better accuracy, smaller, more compact units, as well as increasing compatibility with Ethernet and Ethercat connections,” he added.

Accurately measured data allows users a better and more accurate analysis for monitoring mining environments and predicting equipment breakdown and to schedule a preventive maintenance. “Bestech recently provided sensors for an application to monitor strain in mining structures as a way to suitably extend mine life, saving time and money in the process,” Wieringa said.

Another one of Bestech’s products, the Safe-T-Bleed system of the Fluid Power Training Institute (FPTI), allows stored energy in hydraulic systems to be properly discharged before maintenance to avoid hydraulics-related injuries.

“When you have a hydraulics system, there is a possibility of stored pressure and energy pockets within the system even after the machine is turned off and the system is locked out,” explained Wieringa, “and if you don’t release all that pressure when you undo a hose to carry out maintenance procedure, you are exposing yourself to immediate hazards that could potentially lead to a life-threatening injury.”

Wieringa refers to the in-house hydraulics testing system, MF102TSE, available from Bestech, as being one of the world’s best hydraulic training systems. 

It educates hydraulics technicians as it integrates fundamental theory with real-world practice. Amongst other things, it teaches the principle of micro leak testing, the ability to safely diagnose faulty and worn hydraulic components, and thus reducing downtime and saving thousands of dollars in maintenance costs, while highlighting safe work practices for employees. It’s a product Wieringa hopes Bestech can build further success on.

“That’s something I think we could really tap into,” he said. “There’s definitely some big cost savings there for our customers.”