Engineering & Mining Journal

SEP 2018

Engineering and Mining Journal - Whether the market is copper, gold, nickel, iron ore, lead/zinc, PGM, diamonds or other commodities, E&MJ takes the lead in projecting trends, following development and reporting on the most efficient operating pr

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56 E&MJ • SEPTEMBER 2018 www.e-mj.com OPERATING STRATEGIES If higher commodity prices are making companies explore opportunities to rein- vest in their operations, there's perhaps no better area for improvement than energy management. Today, many mining operations are burdened with aging and sprawling pow- er-distribution systems that are both cost- ly and complex. These systems weren't designed to monitor energy usage or make adjustments based on correspond- ing demands. They're also often decades old and rely on technologies that are now obsolete and unsupported. A more modern approach to power dis- tribution in mines can help them improve energy management and lower energy costs. This approach should involve inte- grating power and process systems into a common infrastructure. It also should make use of digital technologies and cur- rent industry standards to help an opera- tion better understand its energy usage. Integrating Power and Process An intelligent packaged power system combines the process and power systems in the mining operations into a unifi ed in- frastructure. This allows one to see where energy is being consumed throughout the process system. And by connecting power data with process data, the system allows one to create more advanced monitoring and control schemes. A unifi ed infrastructure can also create a more robust system that is more resil- ient to outages and component failures. It can help workers quickly respond to dy- namic changes within different processes to help minimize energy usage costs. An intelligent packaged power system also brings all the power disciplines to- gether into a central e-house that provides the mobility one needs in mining oper- ations. Instead of a decentralized power system with one e-house and multiple sub- stations, a single e-house can be used that can move with operations as they expand farther outward or deeper underground. The Power of Data A unifi ed and digital intelligent packaged power system that is based on unmodifi ed Ethernet and adheres to modern stan- dards like IEC 61850 can dramatically improve visibility into the operations. The system can map power data to the process-control environment, allow- ing intelligent electrical devices (IEDs) to communicate with control systems. Time- stamped data can also be accessed and used during production. This can help workers troubleshoot power-related issues by viewing pow- er-distribution events against motor and power-control events. For example, one could notice that a pump is using more energy and determine that the system could be in cavitation. One could then immediately make the adjustment in the control or send someone to fi x that specif- ic issue. Without these insights, an opera- tion would fi rst need to send a worker out to the mine to investigate the issue — a process that could take hours. The ability to correlate data can also give workers a more detailed picture of how their assets are performing. This can help them make better process and ener- gy decisions in real time. For example, IEDs in a distribution switchyard can feed process operators data to make critical control decisions. Or operators could see if pumps are be- ing under- or overutilized and make the necessary adjustments to optimize their performance. If power is cogenerated at the mine sites, the system can help one understand the energy requirements at each site and if the energy-generating ac- tivities can meet them. Historical data can also help one track trends and better understand energy usage in their operations, like the mean average of kWh per product produced or how much energy is used in each equipment step. Enable Remote Monitoring When an operator connects the IEDs, it gains the ability to support remote moni- toring. A subject matter expert can access a mine's process and power information to troubleshoot issues or collaborate with on- site workers from anywhere in the world. In addition to improving collaboration and more quickly addressing downtime issues, remote monitoring can help im- prove mine safety. Rather than techni- cians entering an e-house and being ex- Improve Energy Management With Intelligent Packaged Power By Paul McRoberts Along with effi ciency and safety benefi ts, modern power packages enable mine operators to make better use of Intelligent Electronic Devices (IEDs) designed for remote sensing and data collection.

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