Conveyors may have a simple job in mines: move product from point A to point B. But they also introduce complex challenges that can impact a mine’s uptime, efficiency and profitably.
For instance, how do you manage the control and mechanical factors that can cause stretched and fatigued conveyor belts? How do you stay ahead of component failures to minimize downtime? And how do you optimize the performance and energy usage of a system that can span multiple kilometers?
These and other questions can now be answered with the help of modern conveyor control technologies like the PowerFlex® 755T low-voltage drive with TotalFORCE® technology from Rockwell Automation. The drive uses smart capabilities like adaptive control and predictive analytics to help optimize the availability and performance of a conveyor across its lifecycle.
Mechanical resonance and vibration conditions in a mining conveyor system often go unaddressed. And as a result, they can take a toll on the system – and production – by fatiguing and wearing out belts.
The PowerFlex 755T drive uses adaptive control to identify and suppress harmful resonance conditions in real time – even as those conditions change over time – to help extend conveyor system life.
Adaptive control coupled with the drive’s energy-efficient move profiles can also optimize how a conveyor accelerates and decelerates. This can create smoother starts and stops to further reduce wear on a conveyor.
Predictive analytics built into the drive create another opportunity to improve availability. The analytics track aspects of each user’s application – such as drive usage and ambient temperature – to predict the life of key drive components. This allows users to make data-based decisions for replacing components instead of replacing them too early, when they still have useful life, or too late, when they’ve failed and caused downtime.
Boost performance and productivity
The drive’s move profiles not only help reduce wear on a conveyor but also help optimize its performance. The profiles enable the drive to smoothly control a conveyor to a desired speed and then precisely maintain that speed. This can prevent a control system from fighting to maintain a speed, which can create issues like resonant conditions.
The drive can also help keep conveyors productive in instances where systems may typically need to shut down.
Using the drive’s safe-speed functionality, for example, staff can perform maintenance or adjust the conveyor system while it continues to run at a lower safe speed. A ride-through capability can also keep a conveyor running through power losses and disruptions.
During deployment, the drive can help staff commission the conveyor faster and get product flowing sooner. The drive allows engineers to use add-on profiles, auto-generated tag names and predefined data links to reduce complex and time-intensive integration work.
A separate version of the drive, the PowerFlex 755TR, can also improve performance in another key aspect of mining operations: energy consumption. Using regenerative active front-end technology, the drive can capture energy in downhill applications and deliver it back to the incoming supply to realize significant savings.
A key component of a connected mine
Mines are increasingly being digitalized to help staff make more informed decisions and rethink how work is done. The PowerFlex 755T drive can help operators realize the promise of the digital mine.
Diagnostic data from the drive can be used to help optimize its performance and get ahead of downtime. The data can also be remotely accessed, allowing a mine operator to monitor many drives across one or multiple sites. The mine operator can even use a partner like Rockwell Automation to remotely monitor and support the drives.