The latest releases were developed based on customer feedback, and offer better control, more options and improve job satisfaction.
By Jesse Morton, Technical Writer
The latest news from utility equipment suppliers show what happens when OEMs co-develop solutions with miner partners. The resulting solutions deftly solve specific challenges, inexpensively, and with a nod to sustainability. They give operators more control, and operations more options. The typical list of benefits is topped by cost savings or improved safety. Field tests give clear wins.
The following stories also reveal that OEM-miner partnerships result in solutions that can simplify workflows and processes. They bestow upon the manager the chance to streamline. For operators, they offer not just improved KPIs, but improved job satisfaction. And, as one expert told E&MJ, a happy employee is a productive employee.
Turning Scaling Into a Science
Hermann Paus Maschinenfabrik GmbH announced the PScale 8-T, a compact precision-scaler trialed and proven in high-altitude mines in Peru and Chile.
The model is the evolutionary successor of the Scaler 853. Paus said the PScale 8-T was developed to deliver surgical accuracy, and to operate in the tight confines and extreme conditions that define mines in the highlands of South America.
“The best scaler in the world has gotten even better,” Franz-Josef Paus, executive manager, Paus, said. “It is a very successful, well-established machine, especially in South America. And if a machine is Peru-proven, it is ready for the rest of the world.”
The new scaler was designed to give the operator a level of control that isn’t offered by competitor machines. “The key for our machine is its size, the maneuverability, and the ability to really sensitively operate,” Paus said. “The operator has the chance to incorporate all of his skills in terms of judging where to work.”
The ability to deliver only the needed energy and action to bring down loose rock separates the PScale 8-T from the competition, Oliver Wilke, sales manager, Paus, said.
“What the competition has is a machine with a scaling pick or a hydraulic hammer in the front of it,” Wilke said. “With either, this can create problems.”
Both can put too much energy into the walls and roof. “You will destroy the natural protection that is created when you build a gallery,” he said.
In comparison, the PScale 8-T turns scaling into a science. “With our machine, you go to the point where you think that it is necessary to scale, and then you can do it on the point,” Wilke said.
“You don’t have to put so much energy into the sidewalls and into the roof,” he said. “Most other machines cannot handle like that.”
Most other machines are too big to maneuver easily, further limiting the options of the operator. “If you are in Phase A and you want to move to Phase B, with a competitor’s machine it takes much more time than with our scaler because our scaler fits much better in smaller-sized galleries,” Wilke said.
With a reach of 8 m, the PScale 8-T is 8 m long, 2 m wide and 2.5 m high. It has an internal turning radius of 2.5 m, and an external radius of 4.6 m and could be operated in galleries with a width of less than 3 m.
Compared to its predecessor, the scaler offers more power and improved safety. It has a 97-kW Caterpillar C4.4 engine. With increased air flow, engine cooling capacity is improved over that of the predecessor, company literature stated.
The PScale 8-T has a new boom design, with stronger geometry, that can handle up to 400 kg. Compared to the 853 Scaler, it has a more robust chassis, a stronger swiveling bearing, and optimized articulation, the company reported. The result is a power increase of up to 30%, and improved precision and production.
Compared to that of the 853 Scaler, the new cabin is better at cutting noise, heat and vibration. The cabin is tilted at 20°. It offers “excellent visibility, easy handling,” and a “relaxed atmosphere,” the company reported.
“It is more productive and safer than any machine in the market at the moment,” Wilke said.
Those superlatives are the fruits of two decades of research and development driven by feedback from both the Peruvian distributor Ferreyros and from customer mines. “We were looking for a small, maneuverable and quick machine,” Paus said.
“Especially in narrow vein and other applications, we were looking for a machine that was able to go into small, confined spaces, scale there, and then, when the job is done, move quickly from one site to another,” he said. Ideal was a machine able “to use the operator’s skills in terms of knowing where to scale, to what extent, and to avoid any additional damage to the rock.”
The scaler will be offered with optional remote control or with a teleremote system, and in the near future with sensor packages, to include a loose rock detection system.
“We are scaling on a higher level,” Wilke said. “We were pioneers in mechanized scaling, and have the experience to help every customer with specific and dedicated solutions.”
Ironically, the scaler’s genealogy traces back to the 853 platform. The 853 is the progenitor of the multifunctional TSL 853 T7. Ingeniously undedicated, “it is the MacGyver of mining,” Hendrik Hörnschemeyer, sales manager, Paus, said.
The TSL 853 T7, in its most basic form, is a wheel loader; but with a swiveling boom and telesecopic arm, it can also be equipped to function as a forklift, dozer, crane or sweeping machine.
That’s not all. It can operate a man basket, a 4-in-1 shovel, a hydraulic hammer or even a snowblower.
The backside can also be equipped with attachments, and can lift up to 500 kg. “Based on this, we can create new solutions together with clients,” Hörnschemeyer said.
For example, a miner in the U.K adopted it for ANFO charging applications. “They previously needed one machine for lifting up the people, and another machine for carrying the ANFO unit,” he said. “This we now combine into one machine where the operator is in front of the basket, loading holes, and from there controls the unit attached to the rear power lift and operates it as an ANFO charging unit.”
It could also be configured to be a concrete pump, Paus said. “A concrete pump can be added to the rear part and have the nozzle and the operator in the basket. The machine can be controlled from the cabin, from the basket or remotely.
The standard tool change takes 10 minutes or less. An optional hydraulic hose quick-change device drops that to less than a minute. The optional speed-lock system automatically connects power lines.
“Ordinary power-consuming attachments can be changed out in seconds,” Paus said.
The machine is available with a Tier 4F/Stage V-certified engine. Customized solutions are available, the company reported.
“This machine is what we are,” Paus said. “It can do basically everything. For its versatility, its capability, and what it makes possible, it is a very affordable machine.”
On-site Remans During Lockdown
In early 2020, Normet globally launched its new remanufacturing program. The offering, which was trialed by a customer in China in 2019, includes the option of having Normet equipment rebuilt at the mine site.
The trial tested the concept in “harsh and isolated mining environments, where extending the lifetime of an existing fleet is an extremely viable solution,” Mika Nevalainen, global product manager, remanufacturing, Normet, said.
For the trial, the rebuilds were done at a Normet hub, but they can also be done on site in partnership with the customer.
If a site is located where transporting equipment is difficult, expensive or even prohibited, Normet can bring in the tools and personnel to a dedicated work area at the mine. “Remanufacturing at the customer site both simplifies and minimizes logistics,” Nevalainen said.
One option would be for the supplier to create a workshop in a space provided by the customer.
“Normet has a solution available where we could setup a full movable workshop,” Nevalainen said. “Obviously, this is quite a large operation, and not feasible with smaller scale programs. A movable workshop requires cooperation with local authorities.”
A bigger mine might provide a bay in a service center that is already capable of supporting a reman.
The average reman spans 16 weeks. During that time, Normet Rental can provide a temporary replacement machine to help prevent any disruption to production. “That provides an opportunity for the customer to test the latest technology available,” Nevalainen said.
A reman, whether done at the customer site or at a Normet facility involves several steps. First, the supplier will disassemble and inspect the machine. The core is then sandblasted and repainted. Hydraulics and electronics are replaced. Upgrades are recommended. Testing follows. Lastly, the machine is certified, the process documented, and the data compiled.
“We pay attention to every detail,” Nevalainen said.
The performance testing and documentation process is the same as for new equipment. The rebuild is certified to perform like new.
“We grant a full warranty on the complete machine,” Nevalainen said. “Additionally, by adding the latest technology to the core, the productivity, performance, and operations experience can be raised while reducing operating expenses.”
Compared to buying new, remanufacturing costs roughly 30% less and offers a 60% reduction in lead time. “By using an existing core, changes to site operations are minimized,” Nevalainen said. “Operators already know the equipment,” he said. “No major changes for spare part demand planning and stocking are required.”
Since the global release of the offering, the pandemic and the ensuing restrictions and shutdowns fueled demand.
For many customers, buying new has simply not been a viable option for months. “COVID has brought a lot of uncertainty to all the markets,” Nevalainen said. “This uncertainty has meant that many customers have delayed their capital investment decisions, including also orders for new machines.”
For customers that were considering a new-buy when the pandemic hit, the restrictions and shutdowns further complicated already challenging logistics for importing and transporting equipment. Customers in remote locations effectively became even more isolated, he said.
“A few of our teams have needed to spend extra months on customer sites as there has been no flights in and out of remote sites,” Nevalainen said.
Simultaneously, in most countries, mining and tunnel construction were labeled essential business. “A majority of operations have run continuously,” Nevalainen said. “Hence, machines have continued to operate normally.”
Market uncertainty, complex logistics, and the need to operate uninterrupted made on-site rebuilds that much more attractive.
“Normet OEM remanufacturing at the customer site or from the nearest hub has become the solution in hand to get maximum performance out of the customer’s existing fleet and to help mitigate future risks of breakdowns and lost production,” Nevalainen said. Specifically, “Normet China and our Latin American teams have successfully, during COVID, completed remanufacturing programs to support customer needs and help them to overcome challenges with aging fleets.”
Other Normet teams elsewhere, such as in the U.S. and Australia, are currently ramping up to offer the program. “Normet Finland, Chile and India are leading the way in building the capabilities,” he said.
The new program fits well into the company’s history of servicing machines throughout the entire lifecycle through to recycling. “Remanufacturing aligns well with all three targets of the Normet value proposition: Securing a safe and sustainable future, innovating for productivity and partnering for lifetime value,” Nevalainen said.
On the first, “Normet is leading the way in sustainable and more environmentally friendly solutions for customers who are searching to improve productivity and extend the lifetime of equipment,” he said. “With remanufacturing, our customers can support circular economy, responsible manufacturing, recycling and minimizing carbon footprints. All of these are key drivers to customer satisfaction.”
Versatile Carrier Adds Capabilities
MacLean Engineering released three attachments for the LR3, making the integrated tool carrier that much more versatile.
“With several basket and attachment options available and the ability to work on both flat ground and inclined surfaces, the LR3 is truly the Swiss Army knife of underground machines,” Bryson Lehman, product analyst, utility vehicles, MacLean, said.
The company released a fork attachment, a jib boom attachment and a pipe handler basket.
The fork attachment has a frame design that gives a clear sightline when loading and unloading, MacLean reported. “The adjustable forks can be positioned to evenly distribute the load for safe maneuvering.”
It has a 6,350-kg load capacity and 60-in. tines, and offers hands-free connection.
“The fork attachment can be used for loading and unloading pallets from deck trucks, loading ventilation fans into cradles, and just about anything requiring forks,” Lehman said. “One of the biggest benefits of the fork attachment is the high payload capacity as well the ability to make the LR3 a self-sufficient machine, eliminating the need for additional machines.”
The jib boom attachment is specifically designed to assist in retrieving pumps, loading fans on to cranes, and handling large, bulky loads, the company reported.
It has a 7,000-kg load capacity, a 60-in. boom extension, and also offers hands-free connection.
When used with the LR3’s boom swing, lift and extension, it has a large range of motion, Lehman said. With “a maximum reach of 4 m, the jib boom is ideal for getting into those hard-to-reach places, such as sumps for retrieving pumps,” he said. “The simple design of the jib boom is what makes it the perfect attachment for underground mining.”
The pipe handler basket “is the ultimate basket to safely and productively install pipes,” MacLean reported. It has adjustable claws, a tilting grapple feature, 240° basket rotation, dual control stations and the ability to store pipes.
The deck is 7 ft by 12 ft, has a 1,590-kg payload capacity, and has safety posts and gates. It features quick-connect hydraulics and electrical cabling. A camera is mounted on the front of the basket.
The basket is “designed specifically for retrieving, lifting, and positioning pipes of several sizes and lengths, ranging from 4 in. to 10 in. in diameter and 4 ft to 20 ft long, in headings as high as 8 m,” Lehman said.
“The basket rotates to install pipe on either side of the machine while allowing for personnel to be situated in the basket for quick and precise installation,” he said. “All from one setup.”
The basket is a certified elevated work platform, he said.
It is can haul pipes. “An operator can load up several pipes into the basket and drive them to the installation point,” Lehman said. “This reduces the need for an additional truck to deliver pipes.”
The clawed manipulator “can grab pipes at ground level and lift them into position in one smooth motion,” he said.
The basket delivers safety and efficiency. “It is the final piece of the puzzle for making the LR3 the ultimate mine services and maintenance truck,” he said.
The LR3 was announced in 2016 and released in 2017. It was developed after a study in Australia on dangers linked to generic integrated tool carriers used as elevated work platforms showed the need for a dedicated solution. The carrier was originally designed for use in Australia, for the high-reach, heavy-load task of installing ventilation fans.
Quickly it was adapted with tools and attachments and deployed for a range of applications. It can raise to 20 ft an 8-by-12-ft work platform that can support up to 5,400 kg.
The rig is 11 m long, 2.5 m wide, 2.5 m high, and has an inside turning radius of 2.2 m, and an outside turning radius of 8.2 m. The LR3 comes with the company’s Remote Drive system, and is described by the company as ideal for large-heading mines.
Since its initial release in Australia, the demand for the machine exceeded original expectations, Lehman said. “What we did not know is how much traction the LR3 would gain worldwide,” he said. “With machines currently working in three continents and soon to be five, the safety features and versatility built into the LR3 are a real game changer.”
Because it “can do it all, mines can eliminate the need to purchase and upkeep several machines, reducing overall capital and ownership costs,” he said.
For that same reason, MacLean is driven to further develop and improve it, Lehman said. “With the LR3 being as versatile as it is, it gives us the perfect product to develop our ideas, with additional tools and baskets already in the pipeline.”
Shearing Scaler Reaches 11 M
GHH reported it has sold three of the hefty, long-reaching LF-20HB shearing scalers since the model was released a year ago. Since the launch of the LF series in 1996, roughly 120 units have been deployed to potash and salt mines around the world. Almost 90 are in use in soft rock mines today.
The scalers are popular because they straight-up outwork competitor models, Guido Wolters, sales director, Europe, GHH, said.
“One of our scalers replaces three to four Oldenburgs and has a better performance at the end of the shift,” he said. In U.S. and Canadian mines, LF scrapers can sometimes double the daily production of competitor models, he said. “High productivity at low costs and excellent ergonomics result in satisfied operators,” Wolters said. “Satisfied miners are good miners.”
The line launched with the LF-7.4B, co-developed with K+S Potash. “We built more than 40 LF-7.4B scalers,” Wolters said. “In 2012, we delivered the first LF-7.6HB to our customers.”
The LF-7.6HB offered lower maintenance costs in comparison to the predecessor model. “The drive train of the LF-7.4B was cost intensive due to the hydrodynamic drive system,” Wolters said. “Especially the standard design of the drive train using a typical gearbox was less than optimal.”
The LF-7.6HB featured a new hydrostatic drive system and greater stability, he said. “The customer is really happy with it.”
Besides lower costs, it offered several advantages over its predecessor. “For example, the soft change of the scaling direction, or the much quieter vehicle operation,” Wolters said. “The oil temperatures are very low, and this allows us to do much more hours between the maintenance intervals.”
More than 80 have sold.
The first LF-20HB was deployed in 2019 to a customer requesting a shearing scaler that could reach heights of up to 11 m. “All other standard scalers are for a maximum height of 8 m or less,” Wolters said.
With a massive boom and offering stability on inclines of almost 30%, the rig weighs 58 mt and is based on the chassis of a newly released GHH LHD. In comparison, the LF-7.6HB weighs 34 mt.
The LF-20HB features a more comfortable driving position, with joystick steering and dedicated seats for comfortable scaling. The cabin is described as ergonomic, and offers optimal visibility and safety. “The overview for the driver is very good,” Wolters said. “Also the system is ready for GHH inSite.”
An intelligent safety system protects the operator and machine, the company reported. Other optional assistance systems, such as collision avoidance, help deliver optimal safety outcomes.
The big scaler also features the “absolutely unbeatable” hydrostatic drive, he said.
The drive “enables quick reversing as well as sensitive roof and side wall scaling,” the company reported. The shearing principle it supports substantially “increases scaling performance” in soft rock.
“All competitor scalers and scrapers are equipped with a shift gearbox,” Wolters said. “Our scaler has just two accelerators,” he said. “One for forward and one for reverse, without any shifting of gears.”
The LF-20HB has a Tier 4-Final engine. The LF-7.6HB has an EU Stage V engine.
The new scaler offers the reliability and robustness intrinsic to the line. “Availabilities of 90% and more are standard,” Wolters said.
The line also differs from the competition in that LF series scalers were specifically designed for soft rock applications.
“A typical scaler has a percussion hammer to hit the lose material from the roof and the walls,” he said. “Our scalers are, in fact, scraping and not scaling.”
The LF line is also more mobile than the competition, Wolters said.
“A typical scaler gets lifted on hydro props and works in an area of just a few m2,” he said. “Our scaler is much more mobile because it is scraping the lose material while driving slow.”
The LF-20HB is billed as a safety vehicle and is designed for room-and-pillar soft rock mines in North America. “It would be ok for rock hardness of up to 80 to 100 MPa, as long as it’s not a constant process of scaling solid rock of that strength,” Wolters said.
Without a Stage V engine, it is not available in Europe. The smaller units are available in Europe, and have helped GHH jockey for market share there and in North America, Wolters said.“GHH is a specialist in soft rock mining due to the long-standing relationship with our salt and potash customers here in Germany and Europe,” he said. “We are experts in soft rock scaling and have deep experience in this field.”
Water Cannon Clears Drawpoints
Getman Corp. announced a global version of their successful A64 HD Water Cannon, developed to help a customer who was losing time clearing blocked drawpoints. “With thousands of drawpoints, blockages were causing expensive delays and losses in productivity,” said Janne Ojala, director, design and engineering, Getman.
Unlike similar products, the A64HD Water Cannon is “specifically and purposely designed to clear drawpoints, working directly to aid mine efficiency,” Ojala said. “And in this instance, the customer’s method of clearing was time-consuming and unpredictable.”
The A64 HD Water Cannon proved to “make short work of a challenging situation and tackled their drawpoint blockage issue,” he said.
The customer also used the cannon to reopen previously backfilled ore passes. “They were able to reopen the ore pass without using explosives, clearing over 20 m of wet muck in two days,” Ojala said.
“Our water cannon is optimized to focus on the critical role of clearing rather than compromising the design by serving secondary functions such as dust suppression or washdown,” he said.
Using a 6-m boom, the unit clears muck by shooting water to 2,800 liters/min. With it, drawpoint clearance time can be reduced from days to hours. “First attempt success rates can be as high as 85%,” he said.
The topmost benefit offered is the safety of the teleremote operation. “Distancing the operator from the blockage area and providing them with an efficient, effective solution to clear the blockage keeps the operation moving smoothly without compromising safety,” Ojala said.
“Our radio remote control allows the operator to be underground with options for either line-of-sight or at a further distance using teleremote operations,” he said. “The remote-control system is intuitive, and operators can refine their feel for the controls as they use them.”
The cannon’s design led to several unit orders in recent years. The A64 HD Water Cannon is ideal for block-caving operations. “This product is dedicated specifically to this application and is uniquely suited in the market to be a safe and efficient alternative to other clearing techniques,” Ojala said.
The water cannon exemplifies Getman’s mission: helping miners work safe, Ojala said. “While we offer a broad range of standard production and production support products, we are adept at developing novel solutions for the challenges our customers face in this dynamic industry.”
Scout Speeds Techs to Worksites
J.H. Fletcher & Co. announced the U.S. debut of the Mine Scout Supervision Vehicle. The company said the unit is a rapid-deployment supervision vehicle for transporting two people between underground and surface operations.
“It is equipped with ample storage space for tools, spare parts and testing equipment,” Francois Meintjes, associate director, international sales, J.H. Fletcher, said. “It was designed with maintenance in mind, with easy-to-access service points.”
The unit offers speed and peace of mind. With industry-leading safety features, “the vehicle is a comfortable ride, and conserves operator energy when compared to walking or carrying tools by hand,” Meintjes said. “This enables the service technician to do a top-quality repair job in a shorter amount of time.”
The Mine Scout features a robust chassis and world class components, the company reported. It can run for “up to 10,000 hours before an overhaul is required,” Meintjes said.
“When overhauled by J.H. Fletcher, the vehicle can achieve an additional 6,000 engine hours,” he said. “The longevity of the Mine Scout and ability to have a second service life sets it apart from its competitors and promises the customer the lowest running cost.”
The unit was co-developed with manufacturer UV Botswana to help African miners do more with fewer technicians and tools. “It was developed after observing, at a customer site in Zimbabwe, that a service technician wastes up to 26% of a 10-hour shift on walking,” Meintjes said.
“To make matters worse, the only rapid-deployment vehicles commercially available are ATVs, side-by-sides and light-duty trucks,” he said. “These commercial vehicles are not purpose-built for mining and lack the required durability and operator protection one might expect from a mine compliant vehicle.”
The Mine Scout “gets you to the workplace faster and safer than ever before,” he said.
J.H. Fletcher reported seeing interest in the vehicle from customers in Africa. UV Botswana “has successfully secured two orders for a platinum mining customer in central Zimbabwe, with another two orders lined up for early 2021,” Meintjes said.
The vehicle demonstrates how J.H. Fletcher solutions add value by improving efficiency, job satisfaction and more, he said. “With the addition of the Mine Scout, Fletcher expands its priority of safety to general transportation in the underground mining industry,” he said.
J.H. Fletcher will be showcasing the Mine Scout at exhibits throughout the western U.S. in 2021.
Simple Engine for Easy Maintenance
Genco Mine Service (Genco) reported its Heavy Duty 12-Passenger Truck has a Tier 4-Final engine that is simple and easy to maintain. Featuring streamlined electronics, it doesn’t have a diesel particulate filter (DPF) and doesn’t require diesel exhaust fluid (DEF).
Instead, the engine uses exhaust gas recirculation and diesel oxidation catalyst technologies.
With exhaust gas recirculation, exhaust is fed into the air intake, cutting the incoming oxygen and making for lower-temperature combustion, which can reduce the creation of nitrous oxides (NOX) by much as 70%.
Diesel oxidation catalyst technology moves exhaust through a honeycomb of reactive metals that oxidize carbon monoxide, gaseous hydrocarbons, and any unburned fuel and oil. Basically a catalytic converter, it can cut emitted particulate volumes in half.
The engine electronics are all built in-house by Genco and allow for rapid troubleshooting, the company said.
“This should be a big help for the hard rock miners: Having a simple piece of equipment,” David Sebring, president, Genco, said.
The company determined in 2016 it would offer a Tier 4-Final engine as an option in all of its underground equipment. “At the time, Tier 4-Final was on the horizon, so we decided as a company to get ahead of the game,” Sebring said.
Genco determined that, from a maintenance technician perspective, ideal would be a solution with no DPF and no DEF.
Typically, a DPF pipes exhaust through a ceramic sponge, which traps carbon and converts NOX to NO2. DEF converts NO2 to ammonia. Lastly, a catalyst converts the ammonia into nitrogen and water.
A DPF is a complex serviceable, requires specific expertise to maintain, and, when malfunctioning, can damage an engine. DEF is a consumable and, thus, an expense. Genco sought alternative technologies.
“Working with Cummins we found that the QSF 2.8L didn’t require DEF or a DPF and it would still meet Tier 4-Final requirements by using diesel oxidation catalyst technology only,” Sebring said. “We started development in March 2016.”
The process took several months and presented challenges, he said. “We first had to apply for the application, and once it was approved we had to work with Cummins Engineers to design the truck,” he said. “Lastly we had to build the truck, and spend a week testing it.”
The result is a 74-hp (55-kW) engine, offering 221 lb-ft (or 300 N-m) torque, that is easier and cheaper to maintain. Genco showcased it at MINExpo.
“Our solution is distinguished by its simplicity and standardization,” Sebring said.
Standardized parts are readily available. “We have many different models that all use the same components and this becomes a competitive advantage for the mines when it comes to downtime and warehouse stocking,” he said.
Further, the engine is “easy to work on,” Sebring said. “The result is a more dependable machine.”