Technology in quarry operations

 

Quarry operations strive for continuous improvement and efficiency gains throughout the entire process of their quarry operation, with one simple objective: to lower the cost per ton. Maximized utilization of the quarry equipment fleet at minimized costs, e.g. fuel and repairs, as well as minimized throughput time of material from the face to the load-out area and minimized material stock levels, are key for an efficient quarry operation. The on-going development of new technology solutions for quarry equipment enables quarry managers to boost the efficiency and productivity of their operations at a rate that has never been experienced before.

Cat connect LINK technology – Product Link™/Visionlink®

Telematics have been used in quarry equipment for more than a decade and are increasingly gaining adoption. Gathered information is becoming richer and more varied, helping managers monitor production, evaluate operational efficiency and manage their business.

Caterpillar, one of the pioneers in telematics for the construction industry from Peoria (IL), USA, has installed telematics over the last decade on some 250 000 machines worldwide, allowing its customers to track and monitor vital information anywhere, anytime, through Product Link, a Cat* Connect LINK technology, that wirelessly reports via the online VisionLink"' user interface. New Cat quarry equipment is fitted with Product Link as standard and retro-fit solutions are available for older Cat equipment working in quarry operations.

In general, telematics can be broken down into two sections: off-board and on-board. Off-board telematics provide individual machine or fleet information to site personnel such as equipment health, payload, and fuel data that includes: idle time and working time fuel consumption as well as fuel efficiency. With telematics systems an integral part of the equipment, no additional labor is required to actually collect and measure any of that data on site. Access to this information allows site personnel to better understand their operations, to make a continuous analysis of individual machines, operators, shifts and job site set-up to improve and sustain operational efficiency, machine availability, productivity and fuel efficiency.

On-board telematics are machine monitoring systems and screen displays that provide the operator with real-time information such as: payload, fuel consumption, idle time, and fuel efficiency. This information allows the operator to make adjustments to his/her operating technique or to the machine to improve fuel efficiency in real time. The operator can also use this information with the site management to assist in job site improvements and to identify issues that may be affecting productivity, operational efficiency and fuel efficiency.

 

Idle management

Idle time is one of the most important and generally speaking, one of the most misunderstood factors that affects fuel efficiency and productivity in quarry operations. Idle time is defined as fuel being consumed without any work or productivity outcome. Industry studies show that quarry equipment idle time can be as high as 300/o to 500/o of the total operating time and therefore massively impacts assets utilization. Idling equipment has a direct bearing on profit margins.

Some construction equipment and most of the Cat quarrying equipment is equipped with "auto-idle" or 'engine idle management' systems. These systems monitor equipment parameters and automatically reduce the engine rpm to idle rpm or to below normal machine idle rpm. These systems can significantly reduce idle time and therefore enhance the equipment utilization. Key for reducing idling time is close tracking and monitoring of the asset utilization. Product Link allows for round the clock monitoring of the equipment utilization and for benchmarking in order to identify opportunities for reducing idling time and for enhancing fleet utilization.

 

Cat Connect PAYLOAD Technology – Cat Production Measurement (CPM)

In all quarry operations the objective is to process the aggregates throughout the entire value chain in the most efficient way and in the shortest time. Onboard payload systems for mobile fleet have become increasingly popular, providing vital payload information to both the operators and the quarry manager. Payload information lets users know how their operation is performing and helps identify bottle necks so that managers can take action and optimize their processes as well as monitor the effectiveness of the operational changes that are introduced.

For accurate payload monitoring within quarry operations, Caterpillar has recently introduced its new on-board payload system, Cat Production Measurement (CPM), a Cat Connect PAYLOAD technology, which is standard on most Cat quarry equipment. Not only does CPM provide the operator with accurate payload information on-the-go with no interruption in the loading cycle, it is also linked to Visionlink, the web based monitoring system, to provide real time productivity and payload information to the quarry manager for extraction, hauling and load-out operations.

 

Material load out

The load-out process is an important element of any quarry operation. A well organized and managed load-out helps lower the cost per ton and increase the fuel efficiency and utilization of the mobile assets for both, the wheel loaders of the quarry and the on-highway trucks of the customer or contractor.

 

Payload accuracy

Payload accuracy is critical in order not to overload or under loading trucks. In quarry operations, it is the responsibility of the wheel loader operator to achieve target payloads. Overloading on-highway trucks can result in severe fines for the end customer and for the quarry owner.

Overloading on-highway trucks significantly increases the cycle time and therefore significantly reduces the trucks' utilization and efficiency. Overloading the truck also has a negative impact on the life of components and tyres due to excessive wear. Under-loading the on-highway trucks reduces the wheel loader utilization and therefore the quarry's income. With the introduction of the M-series, Caterpillar offers PAYLOAD technology fully integrated and standard on all its mid-size wheel loaders.

With Cat Production Measurement, operators can monitor each bucket's payload and even more importantly the accurate loading of the truck with the newly introduced "tip-off' function for the last bucket. In the loading process, the last bucket is critical and with the tip-off function, the on-board monitor advises the operator how much material to exactly load off in the last bucket to achieve the target payload of the truck.

*VisionLink is a trademark of Trimble Navigation Limited, registered in the United States and in other countries.

Credit: International magazine ZKG


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