The University of Newcastle, Australia

University of Newcastle partner with MineSensor to save the Mining Industry Millions

Thursday, 9 July 2020

The University of Newcastle’s Professor Craig Wheeler and entrepreneur David Bull jointly developed a new capability to monitor the performance and condition of idlers used in the conveyor systems that play a vital role in our mining industry. That technology is now the basis of a licensing deal recently completed between the University and New South Wales-based company MineSensor Services Pty Ltd, (MineSensor).

conveyancer beltMost above ground mines around the world use conveyors to transport millions of tonnes of materials for processing each year. Idlers are the cylindrical rollers that sit under the conveyer belt that are key to the conveyor’s operation. In Australia there are more than 400 operating mines with (on average) more than 10,000 idlers per mine. When an idler fails it results in an unscheduled outage that can cost a mine up to $400,000 per hour of outage in lost revenue in addition to increased costs. Not surprisingly, the mining industry see the ongoing maintenance of these high-wear components as a critical issue.

Working with MineSensor, Craig, David and their teams were able to design and build online idler condition-monitoring sensors, with wireless connectivity and ‘backhaul capability’. Data and business analytics from the remote sites allow conveyor belt owners and equipment maintenance crews to conduct preventative maintenance and reduce costly, unscheduled shut-downs and material loss.

“With a sensor at each end of the idler, on an average sized site this will result in 20,000 data points being collected, analysed and reported on every day,” Professor Wheeler said, “This has been a true long-term collaborative research project that is resulting in the Internet of Things to mining conveyors.”

The Director of the University’s new Office of Knowledge Exchange and Enterprise, Dr Darren Cundy added, “This is a great example of how the University of Newcastle’s research expertise can be focused on an important industry need, and work with our business partner to translate it into a commercial grade product.”

MineSensor’s CEO, Mr Matthew Parry, said, “Initial trials at major coal and iron ore sites in the Hunter Valley and the Pilbara are in progress. With continued success of the trials, two of the world’s largest miners are poised to begin implementing this technology.”

“We believe the potential market for this technology is enormous, so we are very excited to secure our first sales and grow distribution in Australia and around the world to generate a return for both MineSensor and the University,” he said.


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