Optimizing Production at a Mining Quarry

Versatile DT80 Intelligent Datalogger from dataTaker

CAS DataLoggers recently supplied the data logging solution for a major international building supplies provider experiencing regular downtime in one of their mining quarries. Raw materials were constantly moved around the facility using conveyor belts throughout the quarry, and evidence of a problem had surfaced when significant discrepancies between the manually-reported stoppages and the throughput began appearing. To clarify this issue and to identify the cause of these discrepancies, an automated monitoring solution was required to monitor the conveyors’ 4-20mA current loop on their belt scales to enable instant rate monitoring and view total tons of material moved per shift so that the actual stoppages could be identified against the manually reported stoppages to find exactly where and how the discrepancies occurred. Current throughput monitoring was also needed to enable fast response times to prevent stoppages before they halted production completely. This intelligent solution would also need to feature a versatile communications suite including USB data transfer for convenient data retrieval and accessibility and also have the durability to survive the hazard-prone environment.

Management installed a dataTaker DT80 Intelligent Data Logger at the top of each conveyor belt in turn. The DT80 device was then connected to each conveyor’s belt scales using 4-20mA current outputs and pulse outputs; the 4-20mA current outputs provided instantaneous rate monitoring given in tons per hour and the pulse outputs returned the total tons per shift. The cost-effective DT80 was fully expandable to 100 channels, 200 isolated or 300 single-ended analog inputs, and provided low-power operation. The dataTaker device also had the capacity to monitor and log up to 15 current sources using its universal analog sensor inputs such as 4-20mA outputs, and also featured four dedicated high-speed hardware counters, which were used to monitor the number of pulses from the belt scales. This allowed the client to view each genuine case of stoppage as opposed to the manually-reported stoppages and to quickly identify both their location and causes.

Featuring a built-in display and secure connections via its removable screw terminals, the stand-alone DT80 recorded all measurements at a precise 18-bit resolution across a ±30 V input measurement range, utilizing high-speed counter inputs, phase encoder inputs and a programmable serial sensor channel to easily connect to most sensors and data measurement sources. Temperature, voltage, current, 4-20mA loops, resistance, bridges, strain gauges, frequency, digital, serial and calculated measurements could all be scaled, logged and returned in engineering units or within statistical reporting. Additionally, the dataTaker’s ease of use enabled operators to group sampling, logging, alarm and control tasks within schedules to fit their needs.

An additional use for the DT80 was to eliminate the bottlenecks in the system to improve throughput. Here the DT80’s enhanced web interface enabled users to view graphical indicators, providing the current throughput to the operator. This in turn allowed for remedial action immediately while a problem was developing, rather than the operator having to wait until the crusher was blocked completely, improving productivity. Throughout its use, the dataTaker’s rugged design and construction provided reliable operation even in the mining quarry’s extreme conditions.

Managing the data was equally easy: the data logger stored as many as 10 million data points in user-defined memory so that users could log as much as needed having independent control of schedule size and mode. The DT80 also offered users the choice to overwrite or stop logging once the allocated memory was full. Data transfer options via the logger’s extensive communications array included Ethernet, smart serial sensor channels capable of interfacing to RS232, RS485, RS422 and SDI-12 sensors, and Modbus slave and master functionality allowing connection to Modbus sensors and devices and to SCADA systems. The data logger’s built-in web and FTP server allowed for remote access to logged data, configuration and diagnostics, and USB memory stick support offered users another method for easy data and program transfer.

Additionally, dataTaker’s user-friendly dEX graphical interface came free of charge with the data logger using a pre-installed Windows Explorer-style interface enabling quick setup and configuration. The dEX software was configured and ran directly from a web browser, accessible either locally or remotely over the Internet. Any of the logger’s built-in communications ports could be used to view dEX, including Ethernet, USB and RS-232.

The mining quarry’s operations benefited in several key ways after installation of the dataTaker DT80 intelligent data logger. The dataTaker had the flexibility to connect to both the current outputs and pulse outputs, greatly reducing the conveyors’ downtime due to stoppages and significantly increasing throughput. The device’s rugged construction stood up to the extreme environment so that the logger wasn’t vulnerable in its somewhat exposed position. Additionally, the DT80’s extensive communications options enabled hassle-free data accessibility and retrieval. After monitoring throughput on the conveyors, management were able to easily apply this type of application to the quarry’s other batch weighing systems and manufacturing processes, increasing productivity throughout the quarry.