Miners are moving toward ‘intelligent mining,’ ‘the connected mine,’ and IoT. Electric motor suppliers are intent upon expanding their market. Consequently, motors, drives and couplings are getting smarter — and easier to install, control and monitor.
By Russell A. Carter, Contributing Editor
The dictionary defines the word ubiquitous as “being everywhere; constantly encountered,” and in the mining industry, nothing comes closer to that definition than electric motors and their associated drives and couplings. Powering everything from SAG mills to samplers, motors literally keep mine sites humming on a more-or-less continuous basis.
Challenged by the needs and expectations of mining customers, motor-technology purveyors are highly motivated to find ways to move the needle farther toward the “more” end of the dial, and not just in terms of performance — demand, too, is steadily increasing. In fact, the market for motors has expanded at a healthy 7.4% clip since 2009, according to IMARC Group, with the global market valued at $93.2 billion in 2017. Industrial-sector sales account for 60% of that market, and those figures don’t include the electronic-drive controllers and power transmission equipment such as couplers and gearboxes that typically are part of many medium- to high-horsepower mine motor installations.