Spotlight Feature Articles PROCESS CONTROL - Page 6

Codelco APC Support function helps identify ongoing improvements to Codelco ’ s control strategy and operator performance . Control applications must be set by operators according to process conditions . APC Support specialists help operators deal with abnormal situations and provide guidance to stabilise processes .
Connected Assets allow operators to boost operational efficiency , make more timely decisions , reduce downtime and improve information transparency . Using remote access and monitoring tools , operators can analyse data from different plant sources , including field instruments , processes , DCS , control applications and network devices . Analytics allow the operators to identify abnormal conditions and predict potential failures . They can also access plant systems and applications safely ; and create key indicator dashboards to assist the operations team .
Almost 2,000 Codelco employees have completed competency management training to build their knowledge of control system technology , advanced control applications and process operations . Training sessions are conducted on-site , in the Kairos Mining Remote Operations Centre and via the web to ensure employees are getting more out of Codelco ’ s installed systems .
Emerson ’ s Technology Innovation Centre for mining
Emerson has had a direct presence in the Chilean market since 1997 , through representatives and sales channels . In 2015 , Emerson opened the Technology Innovation Centre for Mining , dedicated to the development , commercialisation and implementation in Chile and all over the world , of innovative automation solutions for the industry , focused on critical asset reliability and optimising key processes in the mining value chain , with high impact on productivity , cost reduction , and safety .
The company states : “ The resident staff of the Innovation Centre is composed of industry technologists and engineers that have a vast experience and knowledge of the industry to offer automation consulting and a high specialisation services , with a focus on customer requirements . The local team in Chile works with the support of Emerson ’ s global network of offices , technology experts , manufacturing plants and service centres .”
The company told IM that the solutions developed and proven in some of the largest mine companies around the world cover all the mining value chain , from the mine to the port , including diverse applications such as chutes and hydrocyclone optimisation , critical asset condition monitoring with machine learning and data analytics and heap leach irrigation optimisation .
“ The experience of our personnel and their extensive knowledge of the industry allows us to help our customers meet their most complex challenges , helping them improve the efficiency of their processes , increase the productivity of their operations , optimise the performance of their assets
Emerson Automation Solutions ' Felipe Cabrera , Mining Sales Director Southern Cone and meet the most demanding environmental and safety standards .”
IM spoke with Felipe Cabrera , one of the most experienced mine process control experts globally
with over 37 years in the industry working in technology companies and now as Mining Sales Director for the Emerson Automation Solutions Southern Cone organisation .
He said that Emerson has over 130 years of experience in the industry , and its Plantweb™ digital ecosystem has been a key pilar to introduce digital transformation to many sites and industries , including mining which is a growing market for the company . This builds on its already leading market position in supplying smart sensors and valve controls to mining across a range of product brands from its Rosemount™ sensor portfolio to Fisher™ control valves and regulators and Bettis™ actuators . It has also added to this strength the addition of the isolation valves business in 2015 . These are constantly being updated with the latest technology and are supplied to numerous global mine sites on a regular basis . But on the wider plant control scale it also offers Distributed Control Systems , DCSs , ( DeltaV™ ) and SCADA solutions , and the recent addition of the Intelligent Platforms control systems business , which includes PLCs solutions that have a great application opportunity in underground mines monitoring and remote control . All this has come together in a complete offering to the mining sector . Cabrera says : “ We now have the full scope of sensor instrumentation , overall plant control systems and local final control solutions such as high performance isolation valves .”
The company has specialised in Chile in offering specific and customised optimisation solutions for mining clients . As well as the mentioned hydrocyclone and leaching pad projects this has included development of a SAG mill optimisation solution for one of the country ’ s largest copper mines . And Emerson offers reliability solutions for the most critical equipment and has installed large numbers of
vibration monitoring sensors across rotating machinery areas from haul trucks to mills with the data analysed by an intelligent platform also developed by Emerson to prevent future failures .
Cabrera gave a good explanation of the core systems that most major mines are using for process control . “ In a typical copper concentrator plant in Chile , you have 50:50 discrete on-off control managed by PLCs but then also a lot of modulating control loops managed by DCS systems . So a typical mine will have one DCS brand such as our DeltaV but a lot of PLCs . Actual sensor and instrumentation monitoring is dominated now by wireless technology . Then SCADA is used typically for specific areas for example in Chile where copper concentrate slurry is moved by pipeline to the port – and the pipeline operations including pumps are managed by SCADA control at the RTUs along the pipeline route . Also with mines now pumping vast volumes of desalinated water from the coast to the concentrator plants , here again SCADA systems are used .”
On remote monitoring , Cabrera said in Chile the industry is moving beyond with the implementation of Remote Operations Centres in the sense of monitoring , but where the concentrators are effectively autonomous from a process control point of view , with a few operators at the ROCs which are connected to the plants via fibre optic cables – not at the mine site . Due to earthquakes potentially severing the fibre optic link , satcomms connectivity acts as a backup .
As stated , Codelco was one of the first companies to implement a Remote Operations Centre ( ROC ), and the technology solution is now being replicated by other large companies in the country . Why have advanced process control remotely ? One driver is safety – being able to have fewer operators and having those at the ROC . Another advantage is process control specialists being located in the same place as management and viewing real time analytics on plant performance , taking decisions in an integrated environment . Visibility is enhanced with a lot of high resolution cameras at the plant as well as AR . And key staff can view critical data on tablets and phones if required – Emerson also offers an application for this , of course protected by security layers .
Rockwell Automation and digital transformation in mining
IM spoke to Fabio Mielli , Market Development Manager : Mining , Metals & Cement at Rockwell Automation . “ Rockwell Automation is a known leader in process automation and we see data and information as a sub-product of that . We are growing a lot in the information solutions landscape . The mining industry in some ways is already highly automated but a lot of information is still trapped in silos . Some estimates put the proportion of available information actually used by mines today at only 1 or 2 %. Maybe it isn ’ t being aggregated correctly , it is not being displayed anywhere , or data is not being recorded anywhere . From the source of the data , such
International Mining | JANUARY 2021