Loadscan gives mining automated load volume scanning

Loadscan director Carey West. Image: Loadscan.

Loadscan has been providing services to the civil construction and bark and mulch industries for two decades, but its entrance into mining only began in 2010.

Wayne West established the first load volume scanner (LVS) in 1998 in Hamilton, New Zealand to solve the problem of inaccurate counting of loads of material arriving at his civil construction sites.

A year after its inception, the scanner was certified in New Zealand and adopted by industries like quarrying, mulching and sand and gravel pits.

The interest from the mining industry followed and it now accounts for 50 per cent of Loadscan’s business.

Loadscan’s LVS technology allows miners to measure ore body to determine the correct volume measurements, which can be easily miscalculated when using conventional methods.

The LVS provides miners with real-time detailed load information, which assists them to make better decisions that can markedly improve operational efficiency, productivity and safety.

Loadscan director Carey West, son of Wayne West, says the load volume scanning systems is a non-contact automated system and the trucks are scanned by simply driving below an elevated scan head.

Using radio frequency idenfitification (RFID) tags to identify every truck and trailer, miners can fully automate the scanning process.

“With a simple drive-through scan, the system will provide a volumetric measurement as well as 3D load profile of the load and converts that to tonnes using a known conversion factor,” West says.

“The miners can then determine whether the trucks have been loaded to their optimal capacity, thereby improving their trucking factors.”

The LoadScan 3D Payload Profiler gives a graphical load representation for visual load shape and distribution feedback. This assists operators to detect off-centre or unsafe loading.

West says the system requires little maintenance, as it is a non-contact measurement system without wear parts, and it has approximately a 16-year-plus lifespan.

“We have encountered minimal issues where the team has had to travel to sites to repair the system. It is a robust and durable system.” West says.

“We align the scan head to the scan track below and delineate that track so the trucks stay within it, then they can just drive under the scanner,” West explains.

“This is unlike the weighing systems, where the trucks have to stop to get a measurement.”

Image: Loadscan.

For weigh pad systems, harsh environments can mean a lot of ongoing servicing and calibration costs.

It can be trickier for operators to determine whether the equipment requires maintenance or if it is simply out of calibration due to their inconsistency – the only hint being the operators suspecting they are not getting the right result.

Being fully non-contact, load scanning technology doesn’t even require calibration, another advantage it offers over weighing systems.

Loadscan also offers its LoadTrak in-cab console system for further accuracy, which allows the truck operator to input load information while the loading takes place.

“This is particularly useful in the underground mining space where operators don’t always have communications or WiFi systems throughout the whole mine,” West explains. “With the LoadTrak unit, drivers are gathering information about the ore quality, so they are able to dump high and low grade at different locations to separate it.”

Once the driver has confirmed that the information entered is correct, the LoadTrack unit automatically goes into sleep mode so it does not shine in operators’ eyes when driving out of the portal.

This provides a data stream with the information such as date, time, truck details and direction of travel, so it can be used to educate drivers and mine operators.

After installing the scanner technology, Aeris Resources discovered it was previously underloading its trucks by 9.7 per cent at the Tritton mine in New South Wales.

“With the scanner, they were able to educate their operators on how to load the trucks to the maximum capacity and consistently,” West says.

“They increased their trucking factor by 9.7 per cent, which equated to $US430,000 ($625,000) a month, ultimately resulting in a lower cost per tonne hauled.”

Using Loadscan’s 3D profiles to detect overloaded haul trucks has also added safety benefits, as operators can see off centre loading.

How a load is distributed in the truck tray also affects the wear on tires and machine, as well as safety on the haul road. Miners can avoid expensive tire blow-outs and protect their equipment by loading trucks correctly.

“If someone is always overloading a truck to the left then you’re putting a lot more stress on the body and tyres as the truck travels along the haul road,” West says.

“If the weight is always sitting on one side, it mechanically affects the truck and wears out the tyres faster.”

A correctly loaded vehicle also leads to less vibration in the cab for drivers’ comfort and safety, and more predictable truck behaviour.

Loadscan understands that mining is experiencing significant change with technology and automation, so it has a team of technicians that travel all over the world to assist its clients.

“When we sell our equipment we always travel to the site and spend three to four days on site helping with the commissioning and training their staff so they are able to use it.”

“We’ve always been an industry leader because we’ve been around for so long and we’re the only system that has trade certification for road trucks in Australia and here in New Zealand,” Carey adds.

Today, Loadscan is fielding global interest for their load volume scanners and its application is booming in the mining industry.

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

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