Modular Mining Systems says to respond properly to rough roads, awareness is essential. Operators recognise bad road segments, and they can use an option to indicate such locations via manual input – but this has safety concerns for operators and reliability issues for management. In response to this dilemma, the company has released the Road Roughness module, consisting of a rugged accelerometer that can be installed on any haul truck to solve the detection problem. The accelerometer is an effective, low-maintenance and purpose-built device that reliably detects road conditions without the need for operator input.Continuing with news that could not be included in the published surface haul trucks feature, the company explains, “Some may say that the problem of detecting road conditions has long been solved by payload sensors. However, onboard payload measuring systems are not available on all equipment and few mines have all of their trucks equipped with these systems,” according to Modular. “Though open pits have technology they can use, there are still issues with detection systems. More importantly, few tools exist to adequately respond to detected events.”As with any on-board sensor, a fleet and/or maintenance management system is also required to transform sensor readings into meaningful events and to assign resources that can address the problem. The Dispatch system’s Auxiliary Task module, for example, provides a production cycle for auxiliary equipment that differentiates the time to ‘travel to a workplace’ from the time spent ‘performing work’. A Road Work task type can be assigned to graders and/or other road dressing equipment, which appears in a schedule with the equipment’s other tasks. Dispatchers, shift supervisors, and upper level management can allocate tasks based on priority, considering the travel distance of each grader before assigning the work.Providing auxiliary operators with on-board software tools is critical to improving response time. Work performed by auxiliary equipment is different in nature from haulage. Auxiliary work should be managed holistically – there are many factors to consider before a grader operator is assigned to fix a detected rough road section. Technical details, such as the size of the job, location, travel time, and estimated repair time need to be evaluated. Higher level perspectives of all the work required by that machine should be considered, such as the possibility that an operator might need to operate another piece of equipment in that same shift. The right dispatching technology should provide equipment operators and other personnel with the means to account for all of these factors, and the ability to address them in real time.Closing the loop in rough road detection using automated technology, without increasing manpower requirements, requires a substantial IT infrastructure: sensors on haul trucks, fleet management hardware on auxiliary units, wireless communication networks, and experienced control room staff. Most importantly, all software and hardware systems must be architected to work together. This list of requirements may seem high, but by leveraging the investment already made in a fleet management system, such as Modular’s Dispatch system, real productivity gains can be realised with relatively small additional investment. Integrated solutions can address complex problems like haul road maintenance, smoothing the way to increased production.
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