4MINES is a platform that offers specialized services for mining companies. It was created in 2020, within the Technical University of Madrid, promoted by European collaborative projects for technological development.
It integrates a multidisciplinary team of internationally recognized professionals in mining, which allows it to offer specific solutions in all mining activity areas. The platform also markets specific technological tools designed for safer, more efficient, and sustainable mining.
Due to its close ties with the University, research and development are two pillars that stand out in this platform, continuously seeking innovation in the mining sector.
SAFEME4MINE project is born to answer the needs of mine safety, thanks to thedevelopment and implementation of an innovative maintenace system on safety devices of mining machinery that will enable mining operation with superior safety performance. SAFEME4MINE will develop an innovative integrated system consisting on a platform that combines cloud, edge and IoT technologies to collect, process and report data about the safety devices of mining machinery and includes a tool-kit to be used by supervisors and technician during the inspection phases to identify most critical elements to be inspected and to report results of on-field verifications.
This is an challange to overcome because nowadays preventive maintenance strategies of this type of machinery do not consider worker integrity, although it is affecting the production and the effeciency of resources invested. Current maintenace programmes just test the functional conditions of the machinery, not taking into account employee safety.
Background of the project
The project is born in the heart of the Laboratory Oficial José de Madariaga (LOM in advance). This entity belongs to the Technical University of Madrid (UPM) and is the technical assistant of the Mining Directorate of the Spanish Ministry of Industry. In the area of certification and testing, LOM is the official laboratory to develop the conformity assessment procedures of the national regulations in the fields of mining, explosives, pyrotechnics and dangerous goods transport. In 2010, due to the high accident rate in the mining sector, the Spanish Ministry commissioned LOM to develop an inspection procedure for maintenance of loaders and dump trucks focused on safety devices. LOM developed the inspection procedure supported by a computer solution to speed up the process and reduce machine downtimes. This new maintenance software allowed for the in situ inspection in a short period of time and for obtaining of immediate results. Later, the Ministry published the legislation on mine safety and consequently mining accidents started to be reduced thanks to the use of the new solution of inspection procedure for maintenance, minimizing by 66%.
The impact of industrial accidents in the mining industry is remarkable. In the European Union, more than 10.000 minor occupational accidents occur each year, resulting in 4 days or more of sick leave. A project implemented in 2017 by the Spanish Ministry of Industry calculated the cost of accidents in Spanish mining. It was based on a guide from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and has real examples of the cost of accidents in Spanish mining. The costs are as follows:
Taking into account these figures and calculating with a mean cost of 25.000 euros/accident, mining activity is suffering a loss of more than 200 M€/year. Consequently, this has a huge impact on the bottom line of mining companies.
Nowadays, the type of preventive maintenance inspections and how often they should be performed are based on manufacturers recommended standards and guidelines. Standards are given by the manufacturer’s manuals and supported by experience on the operating. Consequently, maintenance strategy is guided mainly by the manufacturer, being the primary goal of maintenance to preserve and restore equipment functional reliability. Inefficient and ineffective maintenance procedures of the mining machinery will be traduced also on occupational health problems and occupational accidents and will lead to reducing the machine effective life cycle and losses for the companies. Even knowing that, inspection and maintenance programs provided by manufacturers for these machines only cover functional features and do not cover other aspects such as safety devices. Nowadays, aspects as safety or extending service life are not guiding criteria when designing and implementing preventive maintenance strategies in the mining sector. Moreover, regular inspection intervals are usually specified trying to reduce the cost of maintenance while supporting the functional health of the system component. However, these inspections do not have into account occupational health or sustainability.
Impact and benefits
The project SAFEME4MINE will have an important impact in line with the EIT Raw Materials vision, mission, strategic objectives and goals, by developing and implementing an innovative product that will improve the raw materials sector in Europe.
The new preventive maintenance system for mining machinery’s safety devices will contribute to boosting competitiveness, growth, and attractiveness of the European raw materials sector, specifically in mining exploitation. Today, the programs used in the maintenance strategy only consider functional parameters of the machinery. As this new product will ensure operativity and efficiency, it will contribute to the security of raw material supply and will create a breakthrough for the EU by reducing importation market dependency.
Likewise, the innovative solution will have a great impact on the consortium partners enhancing their industrial competitiveness, their knowledge and innovation capacity, as well as increasing staff qualification.
SAFEME4MINE: Preventive Maintenance system on safety devices of Mining Machinery | EIT RawMaterials
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