Revolutionising conveyor health monitoring 

Taking real-time data and using it to enhance asset management, improve reliability and deliver ground-breaking predictive capabilities, Aura IQ is changing the way conveyor health is monitored, measured and detected. 

The system was developed over five years by fusing Future Fibre Technologies’ Aura Ai-2 fibre optic detection and sensory technology platform – which took 19 years to develop – with Mining3’s signal processing algorithms and data analytics. 

Speaking to National Mining Chronicle, Future Fibre Technologies Group Head of Innovation – Mining And Energy Andrew Hames said while conveyor systems played a crucial role in underpinning efficiency and ultimately profitability in bulk handling operations globally, traditional conveyor maintenance methods were letting them down. 

“Conveyor maintenance has traditionally been a real problem, with conventional methods of advanced conveyor failure detection often unreliable, subjective, time-consuming and labour-intensive,” he said. 

Traditionally, conveyor maintenance methods have?been challenged by testing conditions such as dirty environments, intense heat, high moisture levels and low temperatures. 

Such conditions have placed the early detection of worn rollers in jeopardy. Considering the vast number running a single conveyor at any given time, identifying those that are worn is paramount to limiting heavy losses and to continue receiving and transferring material. 

This is where Aura IQ makes its mark. 

“Aura IQ transmits a train of short laser pulses along a single fibre optic cable retro fitted to the length of a conveyor,” Mr Hames said. 

“Acoustic disturbances from the conveyor system cause microscopic changes in the backscattered laser light that is then categorised into known parameters. 

“Data is simultaneously gathered from every metre of the conveyor and processed by Aura IQ to pre-emptively alert operators, either on or on site (in operational hubs or control rooms), to potential failures before they happen.” 

Potential failures can include the detection of a broken ball, a cracked cage in a ball race or the progressive wearing of idler bearings. 

At the core of Aura IQ is its nifty cloud and internet of things (IoT) network solution which wirelessly connects one or more Aura IQ Edge servers to a central cloud reporting and analytics platform. 

“This enables alerts and reports from conveyor assets located anywhere in the world to be accessible on any internet-enabled device in near real-time, with no specialist software or equipment,” Mr Hames said. 

“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 IoT gateway, enabling daily asset reliability reports from every conveyor, at every site around the world. 

“Users can quickly identify the status of all conveyors and other IoT-monitored assets at each site location, receive daily reports on each conveyor which pinpoint problems at risk of failure, access complex heatmaps which show key failure indicators and view significant detail into an individual linestand to review the key fault indicators over time.” 

By eliminating the need to access natural obstacles or withstand harsh weather conditions or rough terrain to access conveyors, Aura IQ also reduces many onsite safety risks such as re hazards, lightning exposure and manual handling hazards. 

“Walking the belts for visual and auditory inspection is time-consuming, tiring and is a very subjective process,” Mr Hames said. 

“Through the elimination of manual inspections and?the reduction in manual maintenance, we reduce site employees’ exposure to harmful dust and associated health outcomes (particularly at coal mines), reduce their exposure to excessive noise from conveyor equipment, alleviate fatigue and heat stress from sun exposure and reduce the mental health stress caused by such a critical but subjective manual human task.”

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