MinExpo 2016 Review: Less Pessimistic Than Expected

By Mike Brezonick03 October 2016

When an industry has been struggling as long as the mining business has, a lot of people thought the Las Vegas Convention Center would be a gloomy place during the recently concluded MinExpo 2016. But the reality turned out to be anything but for the 1400 exhibitors and the 43,000-plus visitors from more than 130 countries who attended.

No one sees a turnaround for the mining industry any time soon, yet many exhibitors noted that attendees appeared fairly even-keeled and optimistic despite the hard times. That may also have been related to what was on display from mining equipment manufacturers and suppliers, who highlighted new equipment and technology intended to help miners stay profitable at a time of low commodity prices and ensure they’re prepared for when conditions do improve.

Mining has long been an industry that wanted to make quick repairs with a wrench and a hammer and, as such, has resisted digital technology. If MinExpo 2016 proved anything it was that mining become, more than ever, truly a science. The industry has adopted 3D imaging technology, Wi-Fi communication deep underground and autonomous systems in a big way.

Here is a brief look at some of the interesting things Diesel Progress saw at the show.

Caterpillar announced the availability of Cat MineStar Detect Object Detection systems for additional Cat machines as well as other brands of mobile surface mining equipment. Now previously unsupported machines can be equipped with the cameras, radars and in-cab displays that deliver increased site awareness to mobile equipment operators.

Detect Object Detection is designed to work during machine startup and when a machine is traveling at low speeds. The system is engineered to employ radar capabilities to automatically detect hazards such as other equipment or vehicles within critical zones around the machine and also presents specific camera views to show the operator where potential hazards are detected. A proximity bar on the in-cab display flashes yellow or red, depending on the distance of the detected object.

Caterpillar also introduced a new collision avoidance system, Proximity Awareness, for surface vehicles. Part of the company’s MineStar Detect capability set, the new system uses the latest peer-to-peer communications leveraged by the automotive industry. The system delivers fast communications between vehicles and presents collision avoidance information to operators without the need for a robust radio network covering the site, Cat said.

The onboard hardware can be fitted to light vehicles and to any brand of surface mining equipment. The onboard display can store up to 24 hours of incident data. This data is sent to the office for storage and analysis by using strategically located communications hot spots on site. The Proximity Awareness system presents information to the operator via an intuitive graphic display in the cab.

As detailed in the September issue of Diesel Progress North American, Liebherr Components launched a new family of diesel engines for mining equipment as well as other off-highway applications. The first engine variant, the 12-cylinder model D9812, rated 2699 hp — was introduced at MinExpo and be available in 2017 from Liebherr’s manufacturing plant in Colmar, France.  The D98 series will also include V16 and V20 variants that will reach the market by 2018.

Komatsu presented its Innovative Autonomous Haulage Vehicle concept truck in the Central Hall. Unlike its existing 930E and 830E autonomous models, the AHV truck is an unmanned vehicle — no operator cab at all — and got a lot of attention.

By distributing equal load to the four wheels both when the vehicle is loaded and unloaded, and adopting four-wheel drive and four-wheel steering, Komatsu said it is aiming for high-performance shuttling in both forward and reverse travel directions, eliminating the need for time-consuming turns at loading and unloading sites. The truck has a mid-mounted Cummins QSK60 diesel engine rated 2700 hp.

Komatsu said it expects the new vehicle will considerably improve the productivity at mines where existing unmanned haulage vehicles face challenging conditions, such as slippery ground due to frequent rain/snow fall as well as confined spaces for loading.Ÿ?? Komatsu said it has no timeline for introducing the technology to the market. Following the show the vehicle was to be hauled to the company’s proving ground near Tucson, Ariz.

Joy Global’s new underground hard rock load-haul-dump products, the Joy 18- and 20-metric ton diesels use an electric drive system. Compared to other LHDs in their class, the company said the machines offer faster acceleration, lower fuel consumption and lower heat rejection.

The 18HD and 22HD use Joy SR hybrid drive technology that has been used for years in its Letourneau wheel loaders built in Longview, Texas. The new LHDs are also built in Longview.

The LHDs use the new Kinetic Energy Storage System (KESS) from Joy Global, to enable the storage and reuse of braking energy, reducing overall fuel consumption by 30%, said the company. KESS supplements engine power by more than 50% to improve machine acceleration, reduce the effects of engine turbo lag and dramatically improve cycle times, Joy Global said. The 22HD uses an MTU Series 1100 rated 400 hp or an MTU Series 1300 Tier 4 final diesel engine rated 509 hp. The company said the lower horsepower option is most suitable for production level operations such as block/panel caving while the higher horsepower engine option is most suitable for multipurpose applications where the machine is required to work on declines or steep grades.

Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology showed its new Sandvik AutoMine compatible underground drilling offering. Based on AutoMine technology that has been in use for more than 10 years in numerous underground mines, the company said new intelligent rigs, led by the Sandvik DD422i development jumbo, will soon include long hole drills and bolters.

New 3D scanning technology makes drilling and also bolting more efficient by bringing in new tools and methods for continuous quality control. Blasting quality, overbreak and underbreak analyses together with continuous mine mapping increase overall drill and blast process efficiency significantly, said the company. Sandvik has supplied highly automated underground drilling systems for selected customers for many years. The company said it has been busy finalizing the commercialization of these offerings into global markets.

All-electric equipment is making inroads into the mining industry, particularly in underground operations. Ventilation and cooling has long been one of the most expensive aspects to running a mine. As ore bodies trend deeper into the earth, in particular, battery power could become a viable alternative to diesel.

California-based battery and motor manufacturer Artisan Vehicle Systems introduced its 1.5 yd. load-haul-dump (LHD) underground mining vehicle. Propelled by permanent magnet ac, three-phase motors rated 170 peak hp that deliver 513 ft-lb of torque, the Artisan 153 uses lithium batteries for power. The new vehicle uses a Dana 360 two-speed transfer case and Dana 113 axles front and rear.

There was a noticeable reduction in the amount of coal-specific mining equipment on display. Manufacturers that had relied primarily on coal presented new lines intended to help them enter other mining segments. Or in the case of Johnson Industries, a company that has built utility vehicles for underground coal mines for decades, entirely new markets. The company showed two machines designed for industrial applications, including airport ground support.

Genco Mine Service began in 1978 as a supplier of new and reconditioned electrical and electronic systems to the local coal mines around Huntington, Utah, but soon expanded into vehicle manufacturing with the introduction of an underground personnel carrier based on light-duty pickups. The company has expanded its shop with the equipment and technology to produce its own personnel carriers. At the show, the company presented a pair of heavy-duty personnel carriers built from the ground-up and equipped with Cummins diesel engines intended to help it expand beyond coal mining.

Bosch Rexroth provided an interesting glimpse at the future of service and support with its Hägglunds InSight Live software tool. Using virtual reality and a rudimentary Internet connection and a smartphone, tablet or laptop, onsite service personnel are able to get direct support from Rexroth product and application experts.

The app establishes an immediate sound/image connection to the correct product or application specialist. With the appropriate service agreement, the specialists are available for all service related questions regarding Hägglunds heavy-duty drives. The specialists see everything the customer’s engineer sees and in return can superimpose their hands, tools, documents and diagrams on top of the image the service personnel is displaying. The onsite service technician can then be guided through diagnosis and repairs.

With total cost of ownership (TCO) a recurring refrain at MinExpo, Cummins announced several new initiatives focused on reducing miners’ TCO related to engine operation. A new fuel consumption reduction initiative called Fuel Saver is currently available for QSK50 and QSK60 engines, with plans to extend it to other high-horsepower engines. Through base engine modifications, fuel system upgrades and electronic calibration changes, Cummins said fuel consumption can be reduced in mining trucks by 1 to 5% annually.

Cummins also showed its air, lube, fuel, hydraulic and water filtration technology that is engineered to provide extended service intervals of 1000 hours or more. More details are available here.

The company also launched its new Data Enabled Mining Solution, which Cummins said provides prognostic capabilities that allow Cummins to monitor engines and deliver accurate, real-time operating information, enabling a quicker and more focused response to potential issues. The Cummins Data Enabled Mining Solution operates over cellular networks, and in the near future, satellite communications systems. The system is able to stream real-time, high-frequency data which, when coupled with support from the expertise in our solutions center, allows monitoring of the entire fleet, 24/7.

On the hardware side, Dana Inc. unveiled new drivetrain technologies for small- and medium-sized load haul dumpers (LHDs) and articulated trucks used in underground mining operations. They include the Spicer 20D planetary rigid non-steering axle, a long-drop version of the Spicer TE14 hydrodynamic transmission paired with a Spicer C3000 torque converter (right), along with two new axles for small-sized underground mining vehicles.

Each of the new axles are designed to accommodate Dana’s optional Spicer Smart Suite technology, a platform of fully integrated, connected-vehicle features that converts operating data from the drivetrain into actionable insights. Machine-learning algorithms built into the software optimize productivity by measuring performance, forecasting maintenance issues, and enabling more precise maneuvering in tight, subterranean work areas, Dana said. Ultimately, packages featuring Spicer Smart Suite technology will extend to additional Spicer drivetrain products.

The Spicer 20D axle is designed to deliver 25 to 40% more load capacity over previous models. This axle supports LHDs with bucket capacities from 10 to 12 tons and mining trucks with payloads from 22 to 36 tons.

The Spicer TE14 transmission for mining is designed to provide improved shifting along with more precise maneuvering and simpler maintenance. Currently in pre-production testing, this transmission has been designed for a wide range of medium-sized mining vehicles.

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