IM 2020 June 20 | Page 52

MINING PUMPS Risk and reward Evert Lessing, Vice President Research, Technology and Development, Pumps at Metso, believes the next technology developments around pumps could be cultivated through stronger partnerships between OEMs and mining companies. In this regard, the company’s Life Cycle Services (LCS) contracts could play a part in the OEM’s future innovation blueprints. “That is more and more where the market is going to go; a risk sharing exercise where the OEMs are taking on a bit more risk, potentially with a bit of reward at the end of it,” he told IM. Metso’s LCS contracts are customisable and focus on either customers’ specific goals or developing a partnership based on continuous improvement and optimisation. It is the latter that Lessing believes will provide the right environment for new technology developments for not only that specific customer, but the wider mining industry. “This risk and reward relationship is a healthy way to stimulate innovation in the mining sector,” he said. “If you are carrying some of that risk as an OEM, it really becomes incumbent on you to push the development of new technology from your side.” Digitalisation could help these efforts, according to Lessing, providing the necessary tools to improve uptime and process efficiency within mining pump applications. “At this stage in the pump area, there has not been much done on digitalisation,” he said. “Everybody can ultimately see some value in these digital tools, but the ways to generate this value have not been forthcoming.” Instead of providing condition monitoring covering elements such as vibration and lubrication, for example, the industry needs to move into much more insightful predictive maintenance capabilities to find this value, according to Lessing. “To the best of my knowledge, no-one has really cracked that yet (on a commercial scale),” he said. This comes back to the company’s LCS contracts and the risk and reward relationship Lessing mentioned. “We, at Metso, will be pushing hard to use digitalisation to enable us to better understand the environment the pump is working in, the maintenance cycles, the various duties, etc,” he said. “That will assist us in actually de-risking our part of the services contract.” This could lead to not only being able to diagnose problems ahead of time, but also developing pumps that eradicate these problems from the off. Obviously, there will be benefits to the customers – issuing alarms ahead of critical events, notifying them of potential optimisation opportunities, etc – but real-time data analysis would prove more beneficial to the OEM, according to Lessing. Metso already has a platform ready and waiting for such analysis with Metso Metrics. This system, currently available on Metso's primary gyratory crushers, cone crushers and vibrating screens, pulls real-time data from equipment and creates a digital twin in the cloud. In its most sophisticated form, Metso Metrics uses machine-learning algorithms and artificial intelligence to detect and predict failures. Lessing, who only joined Metso in February, said Metso Metrics provides the digital platform the pumps business area needs to create the value proposition he spoke of. “Every business unit in Metso is responsible for generating their own instrumentation to measure the data and the smarts of how to carry out the predictive maintenance, but then you have a common infrastructure,” he said. “That infrastructure and capability is already established, and you can tap into it.” Incorporated within Metso’s digital platform is the capability to check on wears and spares inventory too, ensuring the supply chain is monitored constantly for any upcoming component replacement or repairs. This common platform and digitalisation capability could be even more valuable should Metso and Outotec merge, as expected (pending approvals), later this year. Lessing explained: “Where Metso has been viewed as a traditional product manufacturer/supplier, Outotec, by its very nature, is a process company. “I think you potentially have this perfect match of process and product knowledge that, when combined, could offer a complete digital package looking at the whole process. I think that is something customers will scream for.” Metso customers should also brace themselves for another addition to its MD line of mill discharge pumps later this year. The company has already sold nearly 200 of these rubber- or metallined products and is looking to take more market share with its newest pump. In 2018, the company installed a pump test rig at its facility in Sala, Sweden, equipped with a 2 MW motor allowing testing of its larger mill discharge pumps. Testament to this is the recent sale of a MDM700 pump to a customer in Russia. With such capacity in place and many South America-based copper concentrate producers demanding large and powerful pumps for their coarse feed material, Metso hopes its new metallined MD pumps will be well received. This new pump comes with a hydraulic design that reduces wear on components and has a bearing assembly frame that fits into existing concentrator footprints, according to Lessing. “The overall dimension envelope allows us to retrofit into brownfields operations,” he said. “That always becomes an issue when you look to replace competitor pumps in this market space.” Smart water management Jessy Parmar, Xylem Business Development Manager, Industrial, thinks digital solutions offer breakthrough opportunities to get smart about mine water management by solving critical challenges – operational efficiency, infrastructure reliability, employee health and safety, and environmental sustainability. As has been well documented, water is a precious commodity that will continue to be in demand in the coming decades, with investors increasingly focused on how mining companies are managing this resource. “Similarly, sustainable practices are often at the core of a mine operation’s licence to practice, and this requirement for sustainability will only increase,” Parmar said. “As resources diminish and global focus on the environment intensifies, it makes sense to harness the power of smart technology to manage this finite resource as efficiently as possible.” Smart water management begins with a holistic view of how mine operations use water, be it sourcing, dewatering, treatment or reuse, according to Xylem. “Whether water is scarce or plentiful, we view every step from intake to reuse as part of a process, to help increase productivity, reduce costs and turn mining water management from an expense to a strategic advantage,” Parmar says. “For example, pumps operating outside their optimum efficiency range waste energy and are subject to faster wear and shorter service life. Pumps that are not compatible with the water’s physical or chemical properties can be at risk of premature failure, causing costly, unplanned downtime. Or older pump hydraulic designs and fixed-speed installations may consume far more energy than the latest premium efficiency units with variable frequency drives.” An audit of a mine’s water management and pumping systems can identify waste and operating risks, valuable insight that will form the basis for a program to optimise pumping efficiency – and, in turn, increase productivity, reliability and sustainability on site, according to Parmar. Yet, every mining project presents its own unique challenges. “Customised water management solutions deliver better results including lower operating costs, enhanced performance, minimised environmental impact and long-term prosperity,” Parmar said. Xylem’s team in Indiana, USA, for example, developed a dewatering system for an 48 International Mining | JUNE 2020