iSense comes to the rescue

Treotham is bringing igus’ iSense range to Australia’s mining industry for smarter energy chain maintenance.

Getting Australia’s minerals from pit to port is no small feat. With millions of tonnes of product shipped every year, operators need loading systems they can rely on.

Where ship-loaders have previously relied on outdated cable technology like reelers or festoons, Treotham is on a mission to upgrade the industry with the latest in energy chain technology.

While cable reelers and festoons are subject to issues like friction, sagging and environmental degradation, energy chains are providing the mining industry with a tough solution built to last in any condition.

Treotham is the sole distributor of its German-based partner igus’ energy chains, which use high-strength plastics to keep cables in action while keeping costs down.

This is bolstered by igus’ iSense condition monitoring system.

Links in igus energy chains are made for tough, continuous use. Paired with igus’ iSense condition monitoring offering, operators have the ability to access real-time data into the performance of their energy chain at any point in time.

“igus’ iSense condition-monitoring provides operators with an embedded reporting function that pinpoints an exact area of a chain that may be in need of maintenance,” Treotham national sales manager John Sharp told Australian Mining.

“The goal is to get an overall outlook on the condition of the system and enact maintenance that prevents unplanned stoppages, boosting the overall efficiency and optimisation of an operation.”

iSense sensors constantly measure the push and pull forces along the chain. The data is then processed through a module in the switch cabinet that can make instant executive decisions when it senses trouble, like a safe shut-down.

With 50 or more metres of chain, knowing its real-time condition at the touch of a button allows operators to focus on the task of shipping essential minerals without worrying about unforeseen issues.

“The iSense system captures data that will quickly reveal any anomalies,” Sharp said. “The data can then be used to monitor how wear is progressing and extrapolate a lifespan report and simultaneously trigger an inspection of the equipment should it need it.”

By providing in-depth data, operators are given a level of autonomy that puts them ahead of the game. Should they decide they don’t have the scope to account for such valuable information in their day-to-day, operators can choose to defer to the experts.

“If the customer decides the information iSense provides is outside of its remit, they can choose to send it back to Germany to the igus experts who monitor the system on their cloud,” Sharp said. “That way, the customer doesn’t have to interface with the control system but can still receive critical information when they need it.

“It’s just another way igus is able to adapt to the needs of its customers and develop a solution that works in collaboration with their system.”

iSense can increase energy chain efficiency in any application.
Image: Treotham

Sharp said the iSense offering enables operators to be more proactive about their maintenance strategies, limiting unnecessary equipment downtime and ensuring operations remain on track.

“It breaks the cycle of a purely reactive maintenance program,” he said. “Rather than waiting until equipment breaks down to fix it, operators have their finger on the pulse of what needs to be done before the situation becomes serious.”

Sharp said iSense has the potential to change the way energy chain maintenance is carried out forever.

“There’s nothing like this on the market at the moment,” he said. “We’re really changing the game with a solution that hasn’t been seen before.”

A recent Treotham customer had a close call when a ladder left leaning against a ship-loader system became lodged in the energy chain.

Luckily, the customer had just installed iSense at its operations.

“When the customer went to travel the ship-loader, it wouldn’t move,” Sharp said. “iSense found the ladder jammed in the system and triggered an immediate stop. They were able to remove the ladder and immediately commence operations with zero damage.

“Without iSense, the system would have kept running with the blockage and the damage could have been catastrophic, with repair and downtime costs through the roof.”

Sharp said success stories like this are why Treotham is keen to unlock the potential of igus’ iSense offering at sites across Australia.

“By growing our footprint in mineral processing, we can eliminate outdated equipment like cable reelers and festoons,” he said. “Energy chains are a far better solution, and when paired with the iSense range, quality and reliability is guaranteed.”

This feature appeared in the May 2024 issue of Australian Mining.

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