Mario González
Country Manager
ANDRITZ
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Implement Technology to Meet Mining’s Separation Challenges

By Karin Dilge | Tue, 03/15/2022 - 12:41

Q: What are the most common separation challenges miners face and what should they consider to solve them?

A: We see a great need for intelligent machines and plants in the minerals and mining industry. Nowadays, it must be possible to inform the plant operators on the current performance status of their plant anytime and anywhere. Furthermore, the operator should not have to find out for himself that a machine needs to be overhauled, maintained or even repaired. If possible, the machine itself should be able to report this to the operator. As per the client’s request, these reports can also go directly to ANDRITZ so that we can take the necessary action immediately in turn.

Our technologies, services and automation solutions can successfully handle numerous elements, minerals and products. Our clients choose ANDRITZ because we offer different technologies for a variety of applications, even distinct options for the same process. Many vendors have only one technology available for separation; for instance, either a decanter centrifuge or a filter press. Furthermore, our customers rely on our global experience to help solve local problems.

Having served customers with solid/liquid separation solutions for over 150 years, ANDRITZ can analyze the specific needs of its customers and guide them to the optimal solution for each challenge. Moreover, creating a customer relationship on a long-term basis is key. This means following up on a project’s development even once it is up and running.

ANDRITZ develops equipment that is suitable for specific particle size distribution and material behavior. No matter the temperature or coarseness of any given material, ANDRITZ has every solution covered through its leading engineering practices.

Q: How do your solutions help reduce operating costs?

A: Time is often the critical factor: hardly any operator can afford long downtimes. ANDRITZ recognized this a long time ago and offers proven solutions for optimization of maintenance costs based on data models, as well as for increased availability and reduction of operating costs or variable costs.

The ANDRITZ Intelligent Filter Press is a key example. In industries like mining, efficient filtration is the key to achieving the desired quality in the final product. One of the most common filtration technologies is the filter press. By combining our proven filter press automation solutions with Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology, an increase in product quality and a decrease in operating costs becomes possible. Smart Sensors collect all the relevant operating data from the filter press, after which sophisticated data analytics select the relevant details and display this information for the operator. The technology can be used for both and fully automated operations and is useful for everything from predictive maintenance solutions to process monitoring, troubleshooting, and long-term trending. It can optimize cycle times and enable predictive maintenance, among other benefits. In addition, the process becomes more reliable: thanks to monitoring features, filter press plants can make significant productivity gains with minimal intervention when Artificial Intelligence (AI) is applied with the Metris addIQ ACE system. In addition, we develop smaller and stand-alone Metris features for our customers that can often be extremely helpful, not exclusively for ANDRITZ equipment but also for machines from other manufacturers.

Also, we have developed other specific features for our machines, such as a unique cartridge solution that allows systems to continue operating when problems arise. This translates to higher production figures and a better ROI. The time clients need to spend on maintenance on such a product is shorter, allowing them to quickly continue with normal operation.

Q: How does the company provide support to its clients for these innovative solutions?

A: We developed our ANDRITZ Service Level Agreements (SLA) with a focus on product availability. Through SLAs, customers are guaranteed fast and straightforward emergency support with calculable costs. We provide sustainable asset management with the help of preventive maintenance features and transparent documentation of all service interventions.

The basic SLA package has an array of services included by default. Customers receive technical support from local and global ANDRITZ experts via phone or the Metris remote assistance app, with augmented reality features for live, remote analysis and troubleshooting. This support also features web access to the Metris Spare Parts Catalog to ensure easy spare and wear part ordering. Preventive maintenance features are also included in the basic SLA. A control system performance check is conducted every three months, with remote checks on the most critical system components (performed using Metris addIQ Connect.

Clients enjoy the basic SLA feature that issues regular reports with predefined KPIs on chosen intervals. Further options include a critical alarm service, where a mobile app notifies our customer of predefined, critical machine and process alarms and events. They can monitor performance remotely via an app, too.

Q: How do your solutions reduce the environmental impact of separation processes, especially regarding water consumption?

A: For equipment like belt filter presses or belt thickeners, water is constantly required to wash the belts. ANDRITZ uses nozzle systems that do not require fresh water. These systems have cleaning mechanisms that avoid nozzle plugging, letting customers use treated water only controlling the particle size and the PPM level. In addition, process water recovery goes hand in hand with smart tailings treatment solutions.

Q: How is ANDRITZ developing improvements to help miners with tailings solutions?

A: We have developed solutions that concentrate the slurry of tailings and then send it to dry stacks instead of tailings dams. Depending on the situation, we decide on the best technology to handle those tailings so that we can recycle water in the process and reach an optimally dry stack. Nonetheless, not all tailings are created equal: some may have higher ore content than others. One of our most successful installations for a client that has more ore in its tailings features a tailings stream that others could consider raw material because of its high ore concentration. Nevertheless, they are relocating their material to reprocess it later. A key example of such a process would be our solutions for Itaminas in Minas Gerais, Brazil.

Q: How does your tailings solution help clients facing challenges in Mexico?

A: The technology helps our customers thrive in areas of Mexico where water is a valuable and scarce resource by diminishing its use drastically. Clients need to use water wisely. In some areas, the authorities have enacted regulation regarding water consumption in some industries. This pushes the industry to look toward tighter-run processes within their operation.

Q: How is the company investing to evolve solid-liquid separation solutions?

A: We are following a clear strategic plan for research and development that covers various areas and industries. Though we cannot provide extensive details, our efforts are increasingly moving toward the direction of complex and customized systems, away from the classic single-machine business. We have noted this demand from the industry and are taking it into account in our development projects.

Q: What innovation is ANDRITZ bringing to the table regarding automation?

A: As part of ANDRITZ’s comprehensive, digital solutions offered under the technology brand Metris, we have developed the Metris addIQ control system. This is one of the most innovative automation solutions for mechanical and thermal separation processes on the market today. Its various packages and add-ons allow any separation business to optimize its performance extensively

Work in mining and mineral processing is extraordinarily complex, so we are also collaborating with experienced partners to ensure that we provide the most efficient and sustainable solutions to our customers. Our division ANDRITZ Automation offers innovative solutions for plant control and optimization across all industries. These digital solutions open up significant advantages for our customers in many areas, going beyond individual machine technology.

Another product uses different automation solutions to develop different modules within a mining operation. The system learns and improves along with other modules to develop a more efficient operation. It works in tandem with the mining company to offer a so-called digital twin to their operation, measuring their variables. As soon as the actual device variables fail, the customer knows there is something wrong and can solve the problem. After that, the measured and calculated variables move back together, helping our customers improve their efficiency and boost production rates while saving resources.

Q: What are the company’s goals for the next five years?

A: As an international technology group, we know that it is no longer sufficient to concentrate on the purely mechanical machinery business. Today, complex machine and system solutions are required to apply smart solutions and support the user as much as possible during operations. Mineral and mining plants in particular can be found in the most remote places on earth, where specialized operating and service personnel are often hard to find. In the future, we will take this into account by making our machines increasingly intelligent. This way, they constantly inform the operator on their operating status, maintenance requirements and overall performance. This area is also driven by the difficult COVID-19 situation, which causes personnel to be restricted in their movements.

In that regard, one of our goals is to foster collaboration, to work together with clients toward the same objectives. In turn, this will enable us to offer optimal and sustainable solutions. Furthermore, ANDRITZ is involved in several lithium projects. We are teaming up with engineering firms and companies to help them get the most out of their processes. Demand for lithium is bound to grow, so we are preparing ourselves by developing products adapted to the specific needs of the lithium and battery recycling industries.

 

ANDRITZ is an international technology group with a broad portfolio for plants, equipment, systems, services and digital solutions for a wide range of industries and end markets, including pulp, paper, metals, hydropower and separation. The publicly listed group has around 26,800 employees and over 280 locations in more than 40 countries.

Photo by:   ANDRITZ
Karin Dilge Karin Dilge Journalist and Industry Analyst