Operational Economy & Cost: The Role of Variable Speed Drives in Mining

In large-scale mining operations, efficiency is always a key factor. The industry is facing renewed pressure as the Australian boom period starts winding down in earnest[i].

Despite optimism from some quarters that the good times are not set to end just yet[ii], cost cutting measures are in place across the board, with even the biggest companies starting to scale back their plans and placing many new projects on hold until prices recover.

Whilst the onus has always been to reduce costs via improved downtime, the mining industry is also focusing its efforts on improved energy consumption; particularly as companies are increasingly under pressure from government to act responsibly and reduce emissions where possible.

Unbalanced and Overburdened

The first port of call when looking to improve efficiency is to ensure equipment is operating as effectively and smoothly as possible. However, without the right management, operations risk becoming unbalanced and overburdened with reverse effects –such as increased maintenance, and increased power consumption- undoing any good intentions.

One way to address these concerns is with variable speed drives (VSDs), which take the strain off conveyors by sharing the load placed on individual motors. It is done using advanced software loadshare applications techniques, in contrast to discrete speed control as found in gearboxes, fluid couplings or multi-speed motors[iii].

The driving equipment of electric motors – like pumps, fans, and compressors – tend to function at a constant speed. They usually rely on throttling mechanisms to control the speed and volume. The big problem with this is that motors always use the maximum energy output even if it is performing a lesser function[iv]; inevitably increasing the amount of energy used, and also contributing to emissions.

VSD’S are good news for the fiscal and environmental side of things, helping to make significant savings in terms of energy consumption, gas emissions, and cost.

Similarly, VSDs also aid in the control, accuracy and longevity of the motors and machinery. Besides the obvious ease of having a hassle free system in place, the flow-on effects mean that maintenance or replacement of equipment becomes a much less frequent occurrence.

Regal Beloit Australia

Marathon Drives from Regal Australia are easy to implement with advanced, inbuilt software to enable proper control of load dynamics and better overall function.

With a comprehensive range and market-leading expertise, they harness the quality and experience of Australia’s leading suppliers of engineered industrial products. Benefits include:

  • More product substance
  • Improved efficiency
  • Reduced maintenance downtime
  • Reduced installation costs

Regal Australia’s comprehensive range also covers all your supplementary needs including motors, generators, gearboxes, brakes, couplings, clutches, winding wire, insulation material and more. These offerings feature well established brands such as Marathon, CMG, Fasco, Genteq, Durst, Varvel, Reggiana Riduttori, Mayr, Esco, Gates and Dow Corning to name a few.

With a broad global and local presence across the country, Regal’s ability to meet their customers’ needs is well supported by qualified engineering and R&D support teams providing informed expertise specific to local conditions.

To find out more about solutions to aid efficiency and increase the life cycle of wear parts, download this free whitepaper.

Regal sales team are available for all enquiries, offering full customer service and support. Call 1300 888 853 or visit http://www.regalaustralia.com.au/ for more information.

[i] What will happen to Australia when the mining boom ends?
[ii] Mining boom not over, just shifting into new phase, says Industry Department chief economist
[iii] Adjustable Speed Drive – Reference Guide, 4th Edition, p1
[iv] Variable-Speed Drives: An Energy-Efficient Solution

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