Today’s Mine Management System (MMS) has evolved over a period from simple tracking (using GPS) of HEMM fleet in the mine to monitoring all assets in the mine, establishing inter-dependencies among the assets and operate mine remotely. At its evolution, it was primarily fleet management system for mines to track mobile assets such as trucks and excavators to understand how they are functioning in the mine and correlate their utilization and production by manually monitoring them. Slowly it evolved by collating individual asset data and converting it to meaningful information so managers can take decisions. With emergence of analytics and advanced IoT technologies, they graduated to Mine Management System encompassing stationery assets like crushers, screening plants etc. coupled with continuously monitoring & predicting production, safety (including personnel safety) and asset utilization. Here an attempt is made to share a brief about current day Mine Management in terms of what value it can provide and what features can be expected from it.
Mine Management System is aimed to monitor and/or manage/guide mine operations and assets (both mobile & stationery) either in real-time or in offline mode. Broadly, it provides information regarding production, asset condition and safety of operations. It also enables managers manage operations remotely, diagnose asset health status and guide staff for enhanced productivity. With advancements in data analytics, new age systems also support analytics helping manager analyze operations, identify bottlenecks and improve processes. Some systems even deploy advanced algorithms to guide the field staff automatically based on current status of assets, status of production and production plan, however with a flexibility for managers to intervene anytime.
Production related data:
- Through put data in terms of trips made per hour (or shift or day)
- Production by asset (truck or excavator) or by resource (operator or driver), by material (mineral or waste) or by supervisor etc.
- Production by lead and/or loading locations
- Monitoring asset location/position so they can be guided (or dispatched) to appropriate destination
- Grading of mineral and unloading appropriately
- Determining inventory of different grades
Asset health data:
- Utilization of assets (actual operational hours)
- Specific parameters such as working hours, odometer, fuel consumption, fuel level, coolant level & temperature etc. for mobile assets
- Over load symptoms such as high current, abnormal vibrations for stationery assets
- These coupled with OEM specified thresholds help managers plan assets maintenance proactively, hence breakdowns can be avoided
- Alert diver/operator for ground staff, avoiding potential accidents
- Alerts drivers of potential accident with trucks in proximity and potential fall from heights
- Analyze accidents and enhance safety guidelines
Fuel contributes major part of the working capital in open-pit mines. Trucks consumes most of this fuel and also need continuous maintenance as they are mobile and also carry loads on undulating roads. Hence, most managers would like to monitor trucks specifically with regard their capacity utilization (weight carries per trip vis-à-vis its capacity), engine health parameters, tyres (pressure and life), battery etc. Hence, typically MMS also integrates with other systems to provide mobile assets with following functionality:
- OEMs of dump trucks share data with customers with regard to engine parameters. However, some solution providers in alliance with OEMs, integrate MMS with such health data directly from asset control system
- To understand capacity utilization of trucks, OEMs of dump trucks provide pay load management system (PLMS), often in offline mode. There are third party solutions also available to determine pay load for dump trucks. And, MMS can be integrated with OEMs supplied PLMS or with third party solutions to assess capacity utilization of dump trucks by each trip. However, determining weight for tipping trucks still remains challenge, though there are few solution providers in the market
- Major consumables of a truck are fuel, oils/lubricants, tyres and battery. Monitoring tyre pressure helps improve its life and also fuel consumption. Therefore, some MMS integrate with third party or own tyre pressure management system (TPMS)
One of the key benefits of MMS is optimization of operations with regard to the following:
- Dispatching trucks to excavators so that total waiting time of truck and excavator is minimum and also dispatch to unloading locations so that proper grade of ore is maintained and no mistake in unloading happens, which may lead to re-handling of ore
- Schedule mobile assets for filling fuel based on its fuel level and availability of fuel availability
- Plan maintenance proactively for assets based on their health parameters leading to high availability of assets, hence higher productivity
Optimization in MMS has been enhanced with development in machine learning and artificial intelligence. However, they also come with built-in data analytics tools to enable managers analyze operations, scenarios and improve processes. Early developer of MMS have aligned with established OEMs and integrated their MMS with respective OEMs’ control systems.