Best-in-class mining brakes monitored remotely

Insight into Pintsch Bubenzer’s R&D centre with the biggest dyno test bench in Europe.

In an ironic twist, faulty brakes can bring any mining operation to a grinding halt. Luckily for SUR Engineering, it relies on German manufacturer Pintsch Bubenzer for brake monitoring systems. 

As no one could feasibly monitor every brake on a mine site every day, technology has begun allowing operators to monitor their equipment remotely, easily and safely.

Australian Mining speaks with representatives from SUR Engineering and Pintsch Bubenzer to understand the importance of reliable brake monitoring systems, while gaining an insight into the trust between a supplier and manufacturer in this space. 

Pintsch Bubenzer head of sales for mining, Arno Weil, understands exactly how to balance effective maintenance with time management. 

“Companies try to minimise the need for maintenance as much as possible, but you must know when you’ll have to do something,” Weil says. 

“(Pintsch Bubenzer’s) monitoring systems start with simple limit switches which monitor whether the brake is open or closed, or whether there is wear on the lining. This is very simple but effective.

“From there you can monitor the contact pressure of the brake, the reserve stroke of the thrusters, and the pollution, temperature and volume of the oil. 

“We can monitor all sorts of things depending on the demands of our customers. We offer different solutions from simple up to high level.”

Based in Australia, but involved in more than 50 projects around the world, SUR uses Pintsch Bubenzer products to develop and implement a range of innovative safety features on major mining operations. 

SUR Engineering director Gustavo Miller describes the applications of one such product being used at a large operation in Dampier, Western Australia.

“Traditional proximity sensors in motor mounted brakes are replaced by the electronic controllers BCU2001 (brake control unit) from Pintsch Bubenzer,” Miller says. 

“Among other things, eliminating those proximity sensors provides additional safety by removing the risk of these sensors being clogged with iron ore dust and providing the wrong signal to the machine control system.”

Pintsch Bubenzer’s brake type SB28.3 with BUEL thruster and CMB3 brake monitoring system.

After decades in the industry, Miller understands what pleases end users in the mining sector. The bulk of his requests revolve around low-maintenance and highly supported products.

“We see the tremendous help (brake monitoring systems) represent for the end user,” Miller explains.

“We have done some training and assistance for end users in Australia and it really makes a big difference – from having to regularly inspect components, to now having the machine telling you what is going on and when it needs attention. 

“For the mining sector, where you have various specific program routines and maintenance, this is paramount.”

SUR won’t simply hand over a product and claim a job is done. In addition to Pintsch Bubenzer’s support team, SUR provides mine operators with constant support, including product education and in the unlikely case of a malfunction. 

Miller emphasises that SUR’s overall goal is to perform the required maintenance activities, while reducing downtime.

“SUR advises on the preferred location to install the required components on each one of the machines, as well as the required electrical connection details in already operating machines with minimum disruption,” Miller says. 

Pintsch Bubenzer sales director for Asia, Daiel Hoffmans, says the company has adapted its support services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our service department has received lots of demand which has forced them to think outside the box during COVID-19. We have done a trial with a virtual reality headset which you can wear to directly view our engineers in Germany as they explain how to service your machine, wherever you are in the world,” Hoffmans says. 

Miller says SUR believes in the products that the company delivers, thanks to the expertise of Pintsch Bubenzer. 

“We have known the product for many, many years; we know what we’re dealing with and we are sure that these really are some of the best products in the world,” Miller says.

“We see the success the company has had in the port business with a considerable majority of the market share.”

SUR and its customers can be sure of the reliability in Pintsch Bubenzer products, as they are extensively tested in Europe’s best facilities. 

Weil says what differentiates the mining monitoring systems from other industries is not so much the software, but more the robustness of the sensors.

“We have a huge research and development centre in Germany, and this is what separates us from our competitors. We have two dyno test stands – the biggest in Europe – where we can test the brakes and linings materials,” Weil says.

“We then have climate chambers to simulate high and low surrounding temperatures.

“Everything that’s tough business is our business. If you want a small brake, we are the wrong company. But if you’re looking for 10,000 to 200,000 newton metre brake torque then we are the right partner for you.”  

This story also appears in the June 2021 issue of Australian Mining.

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