The company stated that the new solution could revolutionise conveyor health monitoring by using real-time data to optimise production and on-site performance, enhance occupational health, hygiene and safety management, and introduce exciting new predictive maintenance and support capabilities to asset management.
Ava Group signed a development and commercialisation agreement with Mining3 in February which facilitated the launch. Having successfully completed surface and sub-surface testing with some of the world's largest mining houses and bulk material handling facilities, Aura IQ is now available for sale globally.
Conveyor systems play a crucial role in underpinning efficiency, and ultimately profitability, in bulk handling operations globally. Conveyor maintenance has traditionally been a real problem, with conventional methods of advanced conveyor failure detection often unreliable, subjective, time-consuming and labour intensive.
Aura IQ's technology harnesses the power of FFT's fibre optic detection and sensing technology platform (FFTTM Aura Ai-2), and is combined with development partner Mining3's advanced signal processing algorithms and predictive analytics to acoustically monitor and assess conveyor health via the cloud-based analysis, reporting and alerts.
Providing deeper insights to maintenance technicians, site personnel, regional operational hubs and global headquarters, conveyors are automatically connected to the cloud via an industrial-grade wireless Internet of Things (IoT) gateway, enabling daily asset reliability reports from every conveyor, at every site around the world.
By transmitting a series of short, laser pulses along a single fibre optic cable retrofitted along the length of a conveyor, acoustic disturbances from the conveyor system cause microscopic changes in the backscattered laser light that is then categorised into known parameters.
Data is then simultaneously gathered from every metre of the conveyor and processed by Aura IQ to pre-emptively alert operators, either on or off-site (in operational hubs or control rooms), to potential failures before they happen.
- Detecting a broken ball or a cracked cage in a ball race;
- Observing and tracking idler bearings as they progressively wear; and
- Predicting potential bearing seizures and prioritising roller replacements at the next maintenance shut down.
Andrew Hames, head of innovation, extractives and energy at Ava Risk Group, said that distributed fibre optic acoustic monitoring is the way of the future for conveyor health monitoring.
"This is a game changing solution which will optimise conveyor performance and create substantial cost savings for operators," he commented. "A typical conveyor can have up to 7,000 bearings per kilometre, which means 7,000 potential points of failure. Aura IQ can monitor the condition of every conveyor roller - eliminating the need to ‘walk the belt' and allowing a controlled and scheduled plan of roller maintenance and replacement to be put in place.
"With Aura IQ, costly delays from roller failure are a thing of the past, while less manual involvement reduces health and safety risks. Taking a formalised and pro-active approach to asset health monitoring means data can also be used to optimise maintenance strategies - reducing reliance on costly manual inspections and demonstrating ongoing compliance with operational standards."