FLSmidth lasers in on a crushing future with connected control systems

Image: FLSmidth.

Many operators of crushing machines lack knowledge of the ore grade they are crushing until late in the process. FLSmidth is changing this by applying new technology that helps to better detect ore grade.

FLSmidth is using laser scanners to revolutionise crushing and screening activities, its latest innovation after more than 100 years at the forefront of technological change in mining.

The Danish company is introducing laser scanners to measure particle size distribution in the crusher and to allow the operator to measure the volume of material coming out of the machine.

Using laser scanners as part of the crushing and screening process doesn’t just provide an advantage for measuring the crushed ore, but also in adding value to it. The FLSmidth crusher control panel adds this new technology as an integrated option. The PLC (programmable logic controller) gives additional input about the result when it comes to size reduction and processed volume.

FLSmidth global product director Sven Hoerschkes says the company can add these two additional dimensions to the crusher with laser scanners so the operator can analyse the performance of the crusher result in more detail.

“In the mining industry it is very important to have the right fraction out of the crusher, because some applications look for a very precise particle size,” Hoerschkes tells Australian Mining.

With the variation of potential ore characteristics being mined, it can be difficult to know what kind of crushing performance the operator will get without knowing the composition of the ore.

Using FLSmidth’s techniques, operators have the ability to detect the portion of material coming from the crusher, allowing them to check how coarse it is without having to wait until later in the process.

According to Hoerschkes, many operators “safe-crush”, in fear of taking on too much material, so this feature can optimise crushing results to deliver 10 to 15 per cent more value on the finished product.

“At the moment you operate a crusher more or less ‘blind’,” Hoerschkes says. “If you don’t know exactly what the final outcome of your crusher is, you tend to operate it on the safe side.

“In majority of applications, this isn’t necessary. So you’re missing throughput because you can’t operate the crusher to the most optimal point.”

As well as increasing the capacity for production, laser scanners can also have a positive effect on the lifetime of crushing and screening machinery, such as the liner.

FLSmidth has a range of web-based control platforms for its crusher control programs, including the SiteConnect app.

SiteConnect, available to both managers and operators, allows users to store 12 months’ worth of data, have full visibility of the crushing plant performance and even have better control of when it requires maintenance.

“The maintenance scheduling is far more controlled,” Hoerschkes says. “These scanners and machines can give an idea of what the crusher liner status is, whether it is worn or not. This means you can plan maintenance in advance, not when it is too late. The software compares particle size distribution (PSD) and capacity and will determine the condition of the liners based on this information.

“With this technology, we can give the customer exact information for his or her maintenance schedule in detail, so you can plan it together with another machine, so you have less uncontrolled shutdowns.”

The online platform is kept completely secure by Linux, so it is not vulnerable to viruses and all communication is encrypted, keeping precious operating data protected.

FLSmidth likes to maintain a consistent approach to its control mechanisms, such as having one support platform for customers to connect with the supplier, simplifying the use process for the customer and the service process for the supplier.

This closing of the gap between the customer and supplier is one of FLSmidth’s key ambitions as it continues to provide ‘future mining’ solutions.

“With this kind of advanced control of a crusher, we can really analyse the complete history and plan our reactions accordingly,” Hoerschkes says.

“This interaction between customer and supplier will become far deeper and this will provide a boost to plant capacities and their abilities.”

Looking ahead, Hoerschkes believes FLSmidth’s control systems will eventually be used at remote operations, helping the industry entice skilled labour to mining companies that operate isolated mine sites.

“This way, people can get on their smartphones and communicate the next steps for the crusher, double checking it when warnings are generated,” Hoerschkes says.

“In Australia, we have a lot of customers who are operating their plants on a remote basis and this laser scanner and software will help tremendously. This makes it easier for them to make decisions and maximise the performance.”

This article also appears in the February edition of Australian Mining. 

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