Improving efficiency and productivity with predictive maintenance

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 13 Mar 2015   Posted by admin

MINING operations have an extensive inventory of equipment requiring an uninterrupted power source for operation. An unscheduled shutdown can result in a huge loss of revenue for a company.

To prevent such losses, FLIR Systems can provide the equipment needed to scan all electrical components with an infrared camera for suspect hot spots.

These include, but are not limited to, circuit breakers, transformers, fuses, disconnect switches, buses and panels.

Thermographic systems are most commonly used for electrical inspections to prevent power failure and to ensure efficiency.

As electrical connections become loose, corrosion becomes evident, which can increase the resistance of current and potentially lead to connection failure, unplanned outages and even injury.

FLIR has a range of thermal imaging cameras to suit a multitude of applications.

The FLIR T-Series has a class-leading sensitivity of up to less than 0.02 degrees Celsius sensitivity for outstanding image quality.

Since typical electrical failures occur when there is temperature rise of more than 50 degrees Celsius, the T-Series can detect problems before they occur.

Temperature measurements of these connections allow an objective prioritisation of repairs to be made.

While electrical surveys are very popular for infrared inspections, they are by no means the only use of this equipment in the mining industry.

Mechanical systems such as bearings, motors, pumps, compressors, and conveyor idlers can be scanned for imminent failures.

Most mechanical systems will heat up if there is improper lubrication or overloading.

Again, the thermographic equipment can pinpoint the heat in the early stages, before irreversible damage occurs.

Thermographic inspection of motors and the respective bearings is an excellent complement to vibration analysis.

When comparing banks of motors, thermographic inspection equipment can instantly identify minute changes in temperatures on the bearing and couplings.

Even minor rises in temperature need to be monitored closely.

Drag lines are a microcosm of the operations themselves.

These expensive machines house an amalgam of electrical and mechanical equipment that needs to be operating in best form.

If a failure of the drag line occurs, the mine’s operations can screech to a halt.

In the majority of mining facilities, there are tremendous lengths of conveyor systems, which are the plant’s lifeline.

Typically, the availability of these conveyor systems can determine the plant’s ability to produce; downtime can be measured in thousands of dollars per hour.

Since these conveyors can be long, with tens of thousands of rollers, a vibration analysis program of idlers would be difficult to implement.

Scanning idlers using infrared are more efficient. Idlers can be replaced during a planned outage, well in advance of failure, unlike the traditional method of listening to how loud they squeal.

The FLIR T-Series has built-in GPS technology, which allows geo-referencing of the infrared images.

The images can be loaded into the FLIR software suite, offering links to available map and satellite imagery information systems (like Google Earth) which indicate the geographic location of the images.

The system enables technicians to view, analyse and localise infrared images from many different locations, quickly and easily. It will also guide inspection and field repair teams to the correct area.

The FLIR T-Series’ state-of-the-art technology, portability and ease-of-use combine to create an invaluable predictive maintenance tool for the mining industry.

The lightweight, cordless operation and ultra-low power consumption assures long hours of operation in the field.

Intuitive features such as touchscreen, built in-visual camera and large LCD display make collecting and analysing data fast and simple.

The FLIR tools mobile app links T-Series to smartphones and tablets for immediate image analysis and sharing from the field, plus streaming video and remote control for safer monitoring.

FLIR’s range of software makes report writing simple – the thermal images and annotated data are automatically inserted into a user defined report template, significantly reducing post-processing time.

UltraMax and MSX combine to turn T-Series cameras into the most powerful infrared imaging and non-contact temperature measurement tools on the planet, all in a compact, easy-to-use design.

The UltraMax is a unique image processing technique that allows users to generate reports with images that have four times as many pixels, and 50 per cent less noise; so operators are able to zoom in on smaller targets and measure them more accurately than ever.

FLIR’s patented multi-spectral dynamic imaging (MSX) etches vital image detail from the visible light image onto the thermal image to help identify where problems are without compromising temperature measurement data.

An aggressive predictive maintenance program is necessary in the mining industry, with the extensive array of mechanical and electrical equipment used daily.

Thermography has proven to be an invaluable resource combined with, or in place of, other forms of predictive maintenance.

With the ability to locate problems well in advance of failure, FLIR thermal imaging cameras can yield immediate payback on investment.

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