Extraction under control

Critical for controlling the productivity of fleets in mining, the installation of assessment systems may result in a production increase up to 11 percent


Engine power is critical for the prosperity of a mining company. In this industry, machines command the production working 24 hours per day, seven days per week. That is why they require an operating plan with targets, good production management, appropriate maintenance and efficient logistics. In this case, performance indicators are essential to reduce the cost per ton of ore produced.

Technical director from Sobratema and consultant of the mining industry, Edson Del Moro already had the experience of installing three softwares in different work fronts, carrying out later the assessment of the operations. He tells that production increases of 5 to 8 percent were obtained. “But when the teams interact fully with these systems, we got a jump up to 11 percent in our production”, ensures him.

According to him, it is enough to feedback the system and to adjust all existing needs. With these features, the user may—in addition to monitoring equipment operation—adjust the system in accordance with his local needs, developing some interference in the working mode. In other words, it interacts in the operating performance, in accordance with the indicators.

There are currently many softwares available in the market for management of fleets and productivity. Many companies produce these softwares apart from the equipment, making available specific systems of telemetry for production and localization in mining companies. There is a product for each necessity. “In large mining companies, the most common is to find systems produced by third-part companies, instead of those supplied by the equipment manufacturers”, tells Del Moro, pointing that Australian companies are the largest producer of this type of technology.

The specific softwares for mining allow, for example, involving with the extraction planning, installing a module in each equipment and supplying it with local information from the mine. The module surveys all data from the machine and transmits it to the central.

But these indicators have to be transformed in useful and productive information for cost management. Mining companies usually have a department to manage these data and feedback the software, distributing information along the internal chain of management. The installation of this control gives a substantial increase in the assessment of the indicators for large and small companies. The focus is always the reduction of day-to-day operating cost, establishing results that become more and more clear.


In mining companies, the contracts with service renders are generally established by production in tons per hour. Works are usually carried out in long-term, differently from rental contracts in construction and earthmoving, which are established per hour.

But the highest expense of a mining company—except the external logistics of the commodities—is the operating cost of the mine, which has to be converted in tons per hour in the productivity. Therefore, the control of equipment wear, ground engaging tools and parts has to be very assertive to prevent unexpected stop of machines, out-of- deadline maintenance or non-programmed interventions. “The target sought in mining is always to achieve the best operating hourly cost, not always the best price”, explains Del Moro.

For him, the culture of cost management has to be installed in a mining site, independently of the quantity of machines to be assessed. “Data collection is carried out by telemetry. But in many cases it may be carried out using manual procedures, hour meter checking and follow-up of the wear of ground engaging tools”, says him.

The supervision of the useful life of any equipment with relevant value is carried out through the maintenance control (using worksheets developed by the operating teams). For example, Del Moro shows the follow-up of the improvement phases of a monitoring software that will allow the managers to control the lane conditions inside the mine.

The system issued reports at each hour, showing the areas that had to be improved for the traffic. Vehicles had a sensor similar to radar graphs of airplanes, showing the sections in bad conditions. “When the teams knew about lane irregularities, they sent immediately teams to repair them to prevent compromising the traffic and causing delays in the transport time of the trucks”, says him.

At the first attempt of installing monitoring, Del Moro says that an increase of 8 percent in productivity and of 11 percent in dynamic operations was achieved. Static operation occurs when the lines of excavation and loading have fixed machines. In the dynamic system, trucks are allocated in both machines, with no fixed points for loading and unloading “In other words, at the moment that unloading is developed, the panel signals to the driver alng which machine he has to park for loading”, comments him.