August 20, 2017

Increasing vehicle output the smarter way

Effects of weak commodity prices have not spared any core operation in mines from pit-to-port, reducing profitability. African Mining Brief analyses how fleet management systems (FMS) are enhancing safety, improving efficiency and containing costs in the performance of essential mobile equipment.  

Still smarting from effects of the boom-bust phenomenon in the commodities market, a logical decision mining companies have undertaken is reassessing how they manage their core operations from pit-to-port. They are looking at smarter ways of reducing costs, increasing efficiency and safety. Definitely, one of the essential areas is in the management of the fleet of mobile equipment.

Mines are in a much fortunate position as new innovations in fleet management systems are transforming the way in which they manage mobile equipment worldwide.

Clearly, lack of the right tools to improve performance of the fleet of their mobile equipment would be dismissed as a lame excuse these days. With developers unveiling new fleet management systems, mining companies are literally spoilt for choice.

Monitoring fleet from the desk-top (image credits: Modular Mining)

Pushing the boundaries

A range of solutions are now pushing the boundaries, facilitating better maintenance and uninterrupted, real-time monitoring of assets. Equipment condition can be recorded and data gathered as and when required.

The enabler

Palpably, for mine operators, FMS have brought about a change of attitude towards fleet management. Mines are now becoming proactive. Traditionally, the tendency was fixing something when it is almost irreparably broken.

Through intelligent, up-to-date information about machine and operator performance directly to the decision makers, in real-time, timely interventions are implemented.

The gains    

Mines are benefiting immensely through FMS. Through keeping downtime in check, they are able to increase productivity. Moreover, timely interventions ensure that faults, which can potentially harm or injure the operator are identified and addressed. Through monitoring, there also can be a significant reduction in running costs as fuel wastage and tyre wear.

GSM fleet management

Nothing short of revolutionary has been the integration of GSM technology in fleet management systems.

The terms “game changer” has become hackneyed in recent years. However, there is no question that GSM-enabled fleet management solutions fit the bill.  GSM has broadened horizons in the way a fleet of vehicles or mobile equipment can be managed.

Armed with GSM-enablled fleet management solutions, fleet owners can effectively and affordably manage numerous variables about the location and performance of individual vehicles and equipment by transmitting relevant data on the GSM network, of course, via a preferred network partner. GSM-enabled systems utilise on-board global positioning system (GPS) that track vehicles and manags on-site productivity.

GPS systems can be installed on all mining-related vehicles, including forklifts, handling plant, bulldozers, loaders, ADTs, RDTs, cranes. In addition to transport vehicles such as buses used by mining companies to transport labourers to and from the mine.

With extra features, new systems can plot the data on a map with GPS positions to identify the cause of an incident, and the exact spot where it happened. Besides, through a device set up in the vehicle, an operator can be warned about an accident.

Entirely in mines’ hands

While the mining industry’s long awaited turnaround is nowhere near in sight, on recent FMS will only get smarter and better, hopefully slashing down the cost of managing vehicles.  With technology at their disposal, at the very least, optimising fleet performance is something entirely under the control of mine operators.

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