In the mining industry, the efficient movement of materials is crucial for productivity and safety. Open pit mining operations often involve using Haulers and Loaders to transport materials from source to destination. Ensuring accurate trip counting in these operations is essential for monitoring productivity and maintaining safety standards. There are multiple ways to do this, but in this article, we will discuss the implementation of automatic trip counting using angle sensors, beacons, and geofences in open pit Hauler-Loader operations.
Configuring Haulers with Angle Sensors
One of the key components of automatic trip counting in open pit mining is using angle sensors. Angle sensors are typically installed on Haulers to monitor the movement and orientation of the vehicle. These sensors are crucial for accurately determining when a trip begins and ends.
During the implementation process, it is imperative to configure Haulers with angle sensors correctly. This involves attaching the sensor to the vehicle in a manner that provides accurate readings. As shown in the picture below, an iron plate was welded to the truck, and the sensor was securely screwed. Ensuring that the sensor is correctly positioned is vital to accurate trip counting.
Angle sensors require a stable power supply, and wiring must be properly routed to avoid interference and signal degradation.
Loaders and Beacons
Loaders, on the other hand, are equipped with beacons. Beacons are devices that emit signals, which are used to communicate with other equipment in the mining operation. In the context of trip counting, beacons are crucial in signaling the start and end of loading activities.
It’s important to configure Loaders with beacons and ensure they are in working order. The beacons should transmit signals reliably to the Haulers to accurately mark the beginning and completion of loading tasks and to prevent accidents and damage.
Picture of notification on Hauler when it comes close to the loader.
Geofences for Source and Destination
To further enhance trip counting accuracy, it is essential to create geofences for source and destination areas within the mining site. Geofences are virtual perimeters defined by GPS coordinates that help track when vehicles enter or exit specific areas.
By creating geofences for source and destination points, you establish virtual boundaries that trigger the automatic trip-counting process when a Hauler enters or leaves these zones. This eliminates the need for manual inputs and ensures precise trip counting.
While configuring geofences, think about the level of accuracy required. Some applications require very precise geofences, while others can tolerate a certain degree of inaccuracy due to GPS limitations or other factors. Decide how you want to be notified or alerted when a geofence event occurs. This could involve emails, push notifications, SMS messages, or integration with other systems. Think about how geofences interact with each other. You may need to configure overlapping or nested geofences for more complex scenarios.
Challenges and Solutions
During the implementation process, several challenges will be encountered. Having sensors in the back of the cab can result in signal interference and, hence, inaccurate readings. To overcome this, the angle sensors were relocated to the front, on top of the cabin, to capture readings more accurately.
Beacons typically have limited transmission ranges, varying depending on factors like beacon technology, signal strength, and environmental conditions. Designing geofences with precise coverage while avoiding signal overlap or gaps can be challenging, especially in large or irregularly shaped areas.
Additionally, the cabins of both the Hauler and digger are completely closed, which hindered signal transmission (as in Faraday’s Cage). To address this, modifications to the signal transmission system or the positioning of beacons may be necessary to ensure continuous communication.
Automatic trip counting in open pit Hauler-Loader operations is a critical component of efficient and safe mining practices. By configuring Haulers with angle sensors, Loaders with beacons, and implementing geofences, mining companies can streamline their operations and reduce the risk of human error in trip counting.
However, it is essential to remain adaptable and address challenges as they arise during implementation. Adjusting the placement of angle sensors and optimizing beacon signal transmission are vital steps in achieving accurate trip counting in varying mining conditions.
In small open pit mines with a big fleet, geofences and beacons may not work. In these cases, GPS solutions work better.
As technology advances, mining operations should stay vigilant in adopting innovative solutions to enhance efficiency, productivity, and safety. Automatic trip counting is just one example of how technology can be harnessed to improve mining operations in the ever-evolving mining industry.
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