1 RMEs Advanced Technology Suite-min

RME says its Advanced Technology Suite enables safer and faster worn liner removal and new liner placement with no one inside the mill.

Mill relining systems manufacturer Russell Mineral Equipment (RME) has deployed what it claims is the world’s first semi-automated mill relining system, achieved by combining robotization of RME’s proven technologies with compatible liner and bolt design.

RME said the automated system addresses the two main phases of mill relining – worn liner removal and new liner placement – and enables the completion of these necessary maintenance processes without workers inside the mill. This system was developed and implemented in collaboration with some of RME’s existing customers, including PT Freeport Indonesia.

RME’s founder, executive chairman and chief engineer, Dr. John Russell, explained: “By eliminating human-machine interaction, we can speed up the machines and relining processes, consistently and repeatably. This advanced capability is now a reality. We understood from our 35 plus years as an OEM that to safely automate mill relining, we would need to consider the many interdependent tasks across the entire process,” added Russell.

RME said the system enables a staged implementation whereby upgrades happen within planned maintenance windows over multiple reline events. This ensures customers will not experience additional costly mill downtime scenarios.

The core of RME’s semi-automated mill relining system – the Russell 7 Model R AutoMotion Mill Relining Machine (MRM) – is described as a highly advanced configuration of the popular 7-axis liner exchange machine, the Russell 7 MRM. It is complemented by Thunderbolt Skyway, a semi-automated knock-in system used on the exterior of the mill. Operational since 2020 at sites in Central America and Indonesia, Skyway is now also available as a portable lift-in solution called Thunderbolt Skyport. It is another automation of RME’s established technology that increases asset utilization by being sharable between mills on site.

These systems, working together with RME’s Insideout Technology tooling and compatible liner and bolt design, can grab knocked-in worn liners off the shell or from the charge, and place new liners against the shell with millimeter precision, said the company, and without personnel working inside the mill. The securing of liners, nuts and bolts from the mill’s exterior can also now be achieved using RME Boltboss.

RME said analysis of historical reline shutdown data using conventional relining methods, compared with filmed data using some, but not all, of RME’s automated mill relining technology suite, showed a 65% risk reduction for activities inside the mill and 30% productivity rise for a 38-ft SAG mill.

The company said that following a staged implementation, PT Freeport Indonesia recently completed the first reline utilizing the combination of Thunderbolt Skyway and the Russell 7 Model R AutoMotion MRM. While the performance data is currently being analyzed, early indications point to an even greater reduction in risk and increase in productivity than was originally targeted.

Director of Metallurgy and Strategic Planning at Freeport-McMoRan, Dr. John Wilmot, said “PT-FI Indonesia has largely removed crew from inside the mill as we reline. While there are still a few residual activities where we need to enter, such as wash-down, we’re executing relines faster and safer than before. Mill relining is no longer on the critical path,” he said. “RME’s modular systems approach enabled us to progressively implement the technology, which meant we could quantify the safety and productivity improvements at each reline event, even as the new technology was being deployed.”