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Mining Industry Benefits from 3D Metrology Services

Mining operations are challenging environments for most in the precision measurement field. The older, more traditional mechanical methods are limited in the volume that they can cover and depend heavily upon the skill level of the operator.  Innovative and portable 3D metrology solutions such as laser trackers, make the inspection and alignment of mining equipment much faster and more reliable and traceable than traditional methods.

There are many mining applications that benefit from the use of a laser tracker including the inspection, alignment and rebuild of conveyor idlers, pulleys and bearings. Additionally the laser tracker is ideal for inspecting and aligning large rotating equipment such as railcar dumpers and ball mills and the power transmission to this equipment.

OASIS has completed a variety of 3D metrology inspections and alignments in the mining industry. Here we provide several examples of jobs completed for this industry by our team of metrology engineers.

Railcar Dumper – Sector Gear and Drive Alignment

When a large iron ore mining operation knew they needed to replace the gear segments on one of their railcar dumpers, they contacted OASIS to assist with the inspection of the axis of rotation of the dumper and the alignment and installation of the new segments. Even though the customer did not have the original drawings, with a laser tracker the OASIS metrology engineer was able to quickly and precisely map the axis of rotation of the dumper. Using this data, the OASIS engineer accurately positioned the gear segments for the planar, circumferential and radial attributes. Following the sector gear rebuild, all of the data previously acquired was used to properly position and align the drive pinion.

The customer was so pleased with the results that OASIS has inspected and aligned the gears and drives on additional dumpers at this location.

3D Metrology Services for the Mining Industry

Laser trackers interface with 3D metrology software solutions to quickly generate inspection reports.

Ball Mill Component Alignment

A large iron ore and steel supplier in Canada hired OASIS to assist with the inspection and alignment of the components of one of their ball mills. This location was replacing the pinion and gear wheel of the ball mill after 25 years of continuous production.

Once the original parts were removed, OASIS began the first step of the inspection portion of the project. An OASIS metrology engineer used a laser tracker to survey the mounting surfaces of the gear segments. The data collected allowed for the exact amount of shim to be placed in order to planize the mounting surfaces. This is important because the gears must be mounted to a surface that is flat and perpendicular to the axis rotation of the drum.

After the gears were installed, the next step was to measure the gear segments to ensure they had the same radius to the axis of the drum and that the backlash was the same between gear teeth. Accuracy is of high importance in order to avoid gear wear, jamming and breakage – all of which leads to costly downtime.

Once the gears were aligned, the final steps involved the alignment of the pinion to the axis of rotation of the drum and the alignment of the motor to the pinion.

There are many benefits of using a laser tracker for ball mill inspection. In this case, one of the most valuable benefits was the speed with which the OASIS metrology engineer was able to gather the data from each step of the inspection process and link all data to the axis of rotation of the drum. When downtime is extremely costly, speed is of the utmost importance.

Because the customer was so impressed with the results, OASIS has been hired for additional metrology inspections at this mine and at their other mines across Quebec. Projects include conveyor inspection, excavator reducer inspection and emergency conveyor drive repair.

Ball Mill inspection using laser tracker.
3D metrology report generated for ball mill pinion alignment project.

Conveyor Pulley Alignment

Mining conveyor systems are key to a prosperous mine operation. Conveyors are typically thousands of feet long and with one belt alone costing upwards of $50,000 to replace; a precision aligned conveying system is certainly in the mines best interest.

In this example, a gold ore mine was having constant bearing failure issues in the pulley sections of one its conveyor systems and called in OASIS to inspect for misalignment. Using a laser tracker, an OASIS metrology engineer surveyed the entire conveyor and established a coordinate system using its centerline and level to earth. Once the coordinate system was determined, all pulleys were aligned to that coordinate system. The next step involved aligning the pillow blocks (bearing housings) perpendicular to the pulleys. In order to do this, all mounting plates for the pillow blocks were inspected and shimmed as required in order to make them perpendicular to the pulleys.

The mine saw immediate results including less vibration and noise and a sizable reduction in bearing wear and failure. OASIS is now in the process of inspecting all conveyors at this location.

If you are interested in learning more about the ways mining operations can benefit from 3D metrology services, please contact us for more information. Be sure to visit our blog regularly for more on precision measurement solutions for the mining industry and other industrial environments.

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