Implementing a remote condition monitoring system for South African gold mines
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In a modern world, people and industries are increasingly using technology to automate and optimise systems and processes. This also applies to the field of condition monitoring on any level. Several recent academic studies focus on using advanced algorithms to do condition monitoring through feature extraction and to predict the remaining useful lifetime period of components accurately. However, there is one industry in specific where condition monitoring is not being done at the same level as other industries, namely, the mining industry. Condition monitoring on South African gold mines is lacking in the sense that basic condition monitoring is not being done properly and consistently. The primary reason might be the absence of a detailed implementation process. Although there are specialised condition monitoring systems available on the market today, most are expensive and require constant supervision from specialised maintenance personnel. There was thus a need to develop a generic process for implementing basic condition monitoring systems on South African gold mines. To make it more feasible to implement on mines, the process needed to be low cost, simple and reliable. There was also a need to prove the practical feasibility of the developed implementation process by applying it to several South African gold mines. Therefore, the objective of this study was to develop a process for implementing a basic condition monitoring system on remote South African gold mines. This process would implement a condition monitoring system that required minimal additional costs and could be used on any size of mining Implementing a remote condition monitoring system for South African gold mines operation. The secondary objective was to prove the usability of the developed implementation process by using it to initiate basic condition monitoring systems on various South African gold mines. The developed implementation process was implemented on six different South African gold mines. The result was that the condition monitoring systems identified several critical machines with poor operating conditions. Maintenance personnel were notified of the urgent maintenance required on these machines before they failed critically. The impact of the condition monitoring system was quantified by analysing the total number of monthly critical exceptions, which refers to the frequency at which monitored machine parameters exceed their defined limits. From the six gold mines where this process was applied, the results ranged from an 114% increase to a decrease of 83% in the total number of monthly critical exceptions generated for each mine. The implementation of this basic condition monitoring further resulted in an estimated R20 million cost saving by preventing machines from running into critical failure or incurring irreparable damage.
- Engineering