WA School of Mines at Curtin University in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia is using Proof Engineers' Road Condition Monitor (RCM) to gain a real-time snapshot on how mine trucks respond to road conditions.
Roger Thompson, professor of mining engineering at the Curtin WA School of Mines said that his research team had been working with Proof Engineers for a number of years on mine road design and pathways to improve mine roads for reduced costs and increased performance and traffic-ability.
"Proof Engineers' RCM is proving more efficient and economical than some of the older-style capital intensive monitoring systems currently used by large mining companies," he commented. "It's easy for the mining industry to use and integrate within their existing haul road operating conditions, requires minimal investment from the mining sites, and allows operators to see very clearly where the road is responding poorly to the trucks running on it in terms of damage that is measured."
With growing pressures on mines to save costs and improve performance, operators are looking to the efficiency of truck haulage, which accounts for a significant proportion of the total operating costs of a mine.
Proof Engineers' RCM is a compact 12V powered device that can be quickly installed onto haul trucks, water carts and light vehicles for effective measurement and monitoring of haul road performance with accurate up-to-the-second data reporting.
The in-built triaxial system measures vibrations caused by the vehicle passing over the roads surface and this data is fed back to the site in real time, giving mine managers the ability to quickly identify the sections of the road network that require road maintenance intervention.
Professor Thompson said: "From a research perspective, the availability of the in-detail data allows us to develop an extensive understanding of haul road quality control from a mines perspective. Mine operators are interested in the results that the system provides, which is with Proof Engineers RCM, almost an instant picture of the comparative condition of the roads on their network that allows them to flag problems. I know many operations that would benefit from the RCM system because it doesn't require this enormous investment in a communications backbone that the existing on-board systems require."
Jordan Handel, civil engineer at Proof Engineers, said that the RCM was designed in response to a common haul road problem of poorly maintained road or low road dust control measures resulting in decreased production, increased fuel burn, increased mechanical wear, unsafe operating conditions, driver discomfort and higher rolling resistances.
He added: "Any relatively small changes that can be made to the road conditions or the running surface of a mine has a big impact on the bottom line, because it is such a significant cost factor. Proof Engineers' RCM system is compact, cost-effective and simple to implement, allowing for onsite monitoring to be managed by mine site operators with minimal training required."
Handel noted for many mine operations, especially the smaller mines that couldn't afford capital-intensive monitoring systems, haul road checks were usually carried out by the foreman or one of the supervisors driving on the roads and assessing quality.
"Or what often happens is, the truck operators get on the radio and call out a grader to a section of road to do some repair work," he added. "Our RCM system automates that process and that information goes through to mine control, or a construction foreman who can then look at how the roads are performing and identify the sections that need remediation. The data displayed is customisable to a site's specific needs, for instance a site may want to focus on results collected from particular vehicles or roads, or even alter the weighing systems in accordance to different road condition standards."
Proof Engineers' RCM can also assist sites with applying the best watering practices, as the system can identify the effectiveness of soil stabilisation additives by monitoring improvement to the roads' running surface before and after treatment.