Timken Co., an Ohio, USA-based manufacturer of bearings, seals, power transmission components and specialty steels, has introduced to the mining industry an equipment condition-monitoring service called the Online Intelligence System (OIS).  The system, which is being gradually rolled out to various industrial sectors and global market regions, is designed to provide a modular, flexible approach for monitoring the status and health of mission-critical machinery.

Timken says OIS’s modularity allows for various combinations of measuring techniques as required to meet a customer’s needs. System modules include:

  • A Commander Unit that contains mounting slots for up to four of the specialized units described below.
  • A Bearing Monitoring Unit that measures shock pulses for early detection of bearing damage and marginal lubrication conditions.
  • A Vibration Monitoring Unit that supports broad band measurement according to ISO 2372 and ISO 10816. It also handles FFT with symptoms and optional EVAM.
  • An Analog Monitoring Unit used for continuous monitoring of analog signals, measurement filtering and triggers.

OIS, according to Timken, employs a powerful signal processor to provide high accuracy and repeatability while making extremely fast measurements. The system’s communication software controls and filters data while handling messages between multiple Commander Units and a central database. In addition, the service software offers advanced alarming and analysis capabilities in a graphical interface.

OIS utilizes OPC Data Access, a global standard for exchanging process control data. With OPC, data can be transferred from any source to any other OPC-compliant application. Using this client-server architecture, OPC creates a plug-and-play solution for system interconnectivity. Installing the system does not require setting up a dedicated network, as it communicates via TCP/IP over wired or wireless standard Ethernet connections and can be connected to an existing local area network (LAN). Because the Commander Units operate independently of each other, any number of Commander Units may be installed.

According to the company, mechanical conditions and problems detectable by OIS can include misalignment, shaft imbalance or deflection, mechanical play, gear damage, generator and other electrical problems and, of course, bearing lubrication and operating condition. Timken said its OIS mining solution is fully up to the challenge of condition monitoring in rugged and variable conditions, providing coverage in low-speed operation with the Shock Pulse Method, at variable speeds and loads with triggered data collection, and for transient vibration events with intelligent alarming.

Protecting Productivity
Vancouver, Canada-based metals producer Quadra FNX Mining installed OIS on a Bucyrus 495HR electric shovel at its Robinson copper/gold/molybdenum surface mine in eastern Nevada. Considering the numerous gears, dozens of bearings and other types of rotating equipment onboard a shovel this size—and its importance to mine productivity—the ability to predict problems prior to catastrophic failures is key.

The Robinson OIS installation can measure and analyze data from various areas, including the crowd and hoist drives, boom points and swing drives. If a problem is detected, Timken can dispatch a certified reliability engineer to analyze the data, conduct on-site testing and recommend solutions.

In one recent instance, a system alarm identified a slowly evolving problem with one of the shovel’s boom point sheave bearings not long after one of the bearings had been replaced during routine maintenance. After data analysis by Timken indicated likely bearing damage, the bearing was removed for inspection and showed slight damage to the outer race and rollers, a condition known as false brinelling. Sub-
sequent investigation determined the likely cause of the bearing’s damage was improper storage before installation.

The bearing was reinstalled and used until replacement could be scheduled, but monitored closely for worsening damage. And, a new storage procedure was developed to eliminate the problem’s root cause.

Intelligent Input
Rick Brooks, project manager of business development at Timken, said OIS is not a real-time system—because it doesn’t have to be. “Although real-time, constant data flow can be useful in some applications, you have to make sure what you’re getting is not just a real-time constant data flow of useless information,” Brooks said. “We like to think we know what and when to look at in bearing and vibration monitoring, and we’ve designed the system to do that intelligently.”

That philosophy carries over into the system’s notification and alarming features. “We can certainly connect OIS to a relay on a shovel and have it turn on a warning light or whatever,” said Brooks. “But if OIS is being used correctly, it will be apparent to anyone monitoring the system that a problem is developing and corrective action should be taken long before that light ever goes on.” In normal operation, data can be sent via intranet or over the Internet, and is also stored onboard the equipment to provide backup analysis capability if network connections are lost. Alarms can be sent by e-mail to both customer and Timken locations.

According to Brooks, vibration analysis is not a skill that can be learned overnight, and OIS has been set up to provide the organizational flexibility necessary for a range of customer capabilities. “We can train anyone to use the service software in a matter of days. Understanding how to interpret the data takes extensive training and experience, however, and we’ve structured the OIS program to work with customers who have no capability in this area and to those that have well-qualified vibration-analysis personnel.”

OIS is designed as a standalone system, Brooks explained, but its OPC Data Access architecture allows interfacing with almost any of the standard enterprise software packages currently used in mining. Typical installation should take only one maintenance shift or day, followed by a few weeks of system configuration and fine-tuning that can be accomplished while the shovel is operating.

Composite Cable Maker Claims Advantages Over Steel Wire
FibreMax, a Netherlands-based supplier of specialty cables for a variety of industrial uses, says it can provide lightweight pendants or suspension cables that offer significant advantages for mining applications. As the company explains, on various types of equipment such as draglines, rope shovels, reclaimers and stackers, suspension cables  are used to support a boom. Because of the highly repetitive nature of machine operation, these cables are subjected to frequent and ongoing tension cycles which affect the cable’s useful life. Normally these cables are made of steel wire rope.

Steel wire rope, according to FibreMax, has a limited service life under such conditions—but FibreMax’s suspension cables are made of aramid fiber that has survived more than 2 million load cycles during testing, and can outperform steel strands by a factor of more than 10. They are available in any strength rating and in lengths up to 450 ft (140 m). Cable-end terminations can be designed per customer request.

In addition, says FibreMax, the aramid cables weigh 90% less than steel at the same breaking strength, reducing weight at the boom and extending service life. They are resistant to a broad range of chemicals, maintenance-free with no requirement for greasing or painting, and can be safely and easily installed. They can be stored on reels for transport and storage. Operating temperatures range from -50°C to + 90°C.

A company spokesperson for FibreMax also highlighted some other significant benefits offered by the aramid cables:

  • Because the exact length of steel wire rope is not tightly controlled, mines have to replace steel wire pendant lines in complete sets. FibreMax’s pendant lines are produced to a tolerance of 0.1 mm in length, allowing replacement of just one pendant line when necessary.
  • Aramid cable fabrication excludes “construction stretching,” requiring less retensioning of installed pendant lines.
  • FibreMax pendants can be supplied with an optional integrated fiber optic cable, allowing remote troubleshooting and monitoring—stress levels and temperature, for example—of the pendants in real-time by an operator or via communications network.

The spokesperson noted aramid pendants have been used previously on mining equipment, but only for intermediate pendants that use potted end terminations with a “cone-and-spike” system, in which the end terminations are large and heavy. The cone-and-spike system must be installed very carefully to allow equal distribution of the load on all fibers, as improper installation can cause the fibers to release from the end termination during use, possibly resulting in pendant failure. FibreMax says its pendants have integrated terminations; all fibers are wound around the end terminations to guarantee equal load distribution on each of the fibers.

Remote Requirements, Realized
Mining and construction camps are commonly perceived as bare-bones settlements with few frills—and many are. But, in reality, the scope of modern camp configurations ranges from basic tent accommodations to large-scale modular facilities housing hundreds of workers and more resembling a resort hotel than a functional work site. Whatever the comfort level, however, there are some indispensable functional elements necessary for any remote outpost: these include power and fuel. Two recent product introductions illustrate the current state-of-the-art in providing both to any size encampment.

Providing an environmentally friendly solution for heavy-duty, on-demand fuel supply, Transcube’s new XS line of containerized fuel tanks have CSC and UL 142 certifications for safe diesel fuel storage. The double-walled tanks offer a unique containment design to eliminate the risk of spills. Two XS models are available. The TCS200 is a 20-ft (6.1-m) ISO High Cube container-format tank with a capacity of 7,000 gallons (26,500 liters), while the TCS400 is a 40-ft container holding 16,000 gallons (60,600 liters). Each unit is designed with an inner fuel tank enclosed within an outer wall that provides 110% integral secondary containment.

All fill ports, pumps, fittings and connections are centrally located within one control cabinet, which includes a spill containment sump completely within the tank’s secondary containment area. To prevent theft or tampering, access to fuel and pumping equipment is secured by lockable cabinet doors.

To provide direct plumbing to engines, the tanks are equipped with four feed and return connections at the top of the unit, with another three feeds located at the bottom. Each model features a 2-in. (5-cm) fill pipe—including an overfill prevention valve—that is easily accessible for quick refilling of the tank. A contents gauge constantly monitors fuel levels.

An inspection manway allows for maintenance, cleaning and inspection of the inner fuel tank and compartments, while an internal roof access ladder provides access to components near the top of the tank. ISO corner twist locks keep the containers secure during transit. Additionally, the TCS200 has forklift pockets on two sides to allow for handling and positioning.

Transcube XS tanks are offered with several pumps, fittings and other optional tools, including electric transfer pumps, supply and return connections, fuel hoses and quick couplers, hose reels, gauges and overfill alarms. Tanks and fittings can also be supplied with custom colors to match a user’s existing fleet of equipment.
In the portable power sector, Atlas Copco has added the new QAC1250, its first 1-MW generating unit, to its product portfolio.

The QAC 1250 is a dual frequency unit delivering 1,250 kVA / 1,000 kW of prime power at 50 Hz and 1,450kVA / 1,150 kW at 60Hz. The generator is power by a Cummins KTA50 diesel, coupled with a Leroy Somer alternator.  Atlas Copco said the QAC series generators are built to withstand extreme temperatures, and designed to work in all weather conditions.  A built-in engine coolant heater ensures quick and easy start-up in cold conditions, while a variable speed electric cooling fan allows continuous operation in high-temperature environments.

All QAC series generators have a four-pole main motorized circuit breaker, providing overload and short circuit protection, an emergency stop, automatic engine alarms and shut-downs. They are entirely EC safety regulation compliant, according to the company. A double-walled, removable fuel tank with leakage sensors and spillage-free frame construction prevents accidental engine fluids or fuel spills. An innovative dual-compartment design keeps the engine/alternator compartment separate from the coolant compartment.