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Southern AfricaProduct & Services

SKF’s online remote monitoring system boosts reliability and availability of critical haul trucks on a Zambian copper mine

SKF Zambia installed IMx-16 Multilog Online Monitoring Systems on two mobile mining haul trucks at a leading copper mine in Zambia’s North-Western Province in May 2021 to ensure continuous mining operations by predicting critical component failures and allowing for planned predictive maintenance procedures to be carried out.

The arduous operating environment triggered frequent component failures on the haul trucks causing unexpected breakdowns. The ensuing unscheduled costly downtime was simply not acceptable as these machines are critical to the mining operation. A monitoring system to manage the health of the trucks was urgently needed and it had to be a remote solution as a manual procedure was not feasible for the mine. Sending technicians out to obtain vibration and temperature readings from critical points on each truck would be counter-productive due to obligatory work stoppages. Added to this, time constraints would compromise data accuracy. The mine decided to approach SKF Zambia for a viable solution.

“Once we had concluded our site visits to determine all the critical points on the trucks that would require monitoring, we recommended SKF’s IMx-16 Multilog Online Monitoring System as the most optimum solution for our customer,” states Mel Patel, Key Accounts Manager at SKF Zambia.

The complete install, which was done over a period of two days per truck, included the fitment of vibration and temperature sensors on critical components including the front wheels, wheel bearings, lift pump, brake pump, alternator, drive motor and rear wheel traction motors. The scope of work also required the integration of a hydraulic oil sensor into the IMx-16 system. “This flexible system is able to provide additional points of monitoring for critical rotating components that are not monitored by traditional OEM systems on the mining haul trucks,” explains Patel.

The IMx system’s 16 inputs can be configured for both vibration and temperature monitoring. The data is continuously collected by sensors in real-time while the machines are operating, eliminating the need for work stoppages. The WIFI / 3G Sim compatible system then automatically forwards the collected vibration and temperature data to SKF’s Remote Diagnostic Centre (RDC) in Jet Park, Johannesburg, for analysis by highly skilled engineers. “When anomalies are detected, the IMx system sends alerts to the end-user’s cellphone or email in real-time,” adds Patel.

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Access to structured truck component data point analyses in real-time whilst the trucks are operational, coupled with SKF recommendations by expert analysts, enables the mine to better plan repair work and carry out the necessary preventative maintenance during scheduled downtime, avoiding potential catastrophic machine failure and all the associated costs. By efficiently and effectively managing the health of critical truck components, SKF’s IMx-16 online remote monitoring system is improving the predictability, reliability and availability of the critical mining haul trucks.

SKF Zambia provided customer training on the IMx-16 system two weeks after the initial data gathering stage had been completed.

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