LASE technology optimises stacker reclaimer operations

LASE's 3D scanner looks from above the machine on the reclaimed material.

Who knew that stacker measurement and collision prevention were two birds that mining operators could address with one stone? LASE certainly did.

Lean efficiencies are something that mining operations have to work towards.

For mining companies that rely on the technology and innovation of a mining equipment, technology and services (METS) company, the drive to improve efficiencies needs to begin there.

LASE lives up to a 21st century penchant for simplification in this pursuit.

The global laser specialist uses only a handful of components to deliver more than 10 different applications in the mining sector.

It simply comes down to the key features of software behind the device and where a 2D or 3D scanner is being mounted. Installations on drill rigs, dump trucks, conveyor belts or stacker/ reclaimers are just some of the possible applications.

“Nowadays, it’s all about automation,” LASE Australia general manager Lars Mohr, who has relocated from Germany to Perth to launch the company’s first Australian branch, says.

 “A machine needs to know what it’s doing and for this it needs a pair of eyes.

“But we’re the eyes of the machine. We enable the machine, say a stacker/ reclaimer to see what’s going on around it with our laser measurement systems.”

Using LASE’s tried and tested scanning technology, a company can obtain data gathered by the company’s scanners, have it processed using LASE’s algorithm software and interpreted to a user or machine programmable logic controller (PLC).

This isn’t restricted to data from just one piece of mining equipment. LASE also has the ability to combine data from multiple machines to give a complete picture of a mining operation using multiple scanners in several applications.

“This means we generate an interconnected automation that is not only limited to one machine. We’re able to distribute the data multiple different interfaces. The possibility is limitless,” Mohr says.

“We did this in the port business, with multiple Australian container terminals adopting LASE system in its automated operation.

“They run machines that don’t have cabins anymore that are all automated with laser-based measurement systems from LASE.

The good news about interconnected automation – across inventory management and volume measurement – is that data helps to support incident prevention.

Mine operators can also install one or more of LASE’s 3D laser scanners on a stacker or reclaimer to get a precise measurement of heaps or piles.

The LASE scanner looks from above the machine on the heap and scans the heap profile. It focusses on getting a measurement which can then be used to automate machines and monitor processes.

The LASE software provides answers to questions such as how much material is on the stockpile, how high the material flow is in exact figures and whether an equipment might collide with objects, other machines or the heap.

Mohr says that the LASE application is highly versatile and can be applied across several types of heaps and piles, while also being used to prevent collisions between equipment.

“We aim to address safety issues and other mining challenges for the benefit of mining companies,” Mohr says.

“We know we have a solution, and we can provide that solution with a technical approach while giving a greater picture of processes and generate benefits for operations.

“If you’re concerned an operation will result in ineffective processes or collision of machines, we address this problem in a two-fold manner to ensure you maintain safe operation and reap economic benefits – the two are connected quite closely.”

Mining operators can run a fully automated stacker/reclaimer operation, optimising an operating distance of bucket wheel and stockpile, while receiving real-time scan model of the stockyard.

“Automation is a very big topic in the mining industry today, and you always need data of your surroundings and the processes within mining operations to automate your equipment,” Mohr says.

A laser scanning application uses fewer sensors than for example radar systems.

In a bulk volume scanning system, a maximum of only two 3D scanners are required. But achieving the same vision with radar systems would require between 12 and 16 sensors, according to Mohr.

Fewer components also means lower maintenance fees for companies and lower initial and maintenance costs, he continues.

Further, laser technology is not affected by daylight or night time as it uses an active light source, unlike for example a time of flight (TOF) 3D camera technology system.

LASE has been operating around the world for 30 years, developing laser technology that helps make automation a smooth affair at industrial sites.

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