Automation and the digitalisation of its machines and processes is driving thyssenkrup’s strategy to improve its product offering in the age of Industry 4.0.

As a pioneering mining equipment manufacturer, thyssenkrupp is focused on developing next-generation machines, equipment and processes to improve efficiency, performance, availability and more importantly safety.

This article first appeared in Mining Elites in Africa 2020

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thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions South Africa (tkISSA), a global engineering and technology specialist, supports customers on their path of digitisation to assist them in optimising their mining operations while reducing operational costs.

It does this by combining industry-leading machine know-how through progressive integration, with the company’s digitalised expertise.

“Our ability to pool together our local experience which spans some 60 years with over 200 years of global knowledge differentiates us as a preferred partner in the new mining age.

“We maintain long-term customer relationships which see us supporting them throughout the thyssenkrupp product lifecycle,” states Demitri Kokoroyanis, product manager: minerals processing, crushing and screening technology

Automation leads to improved safety

Kokoroyanis adds that autonomous and remote operation increases safety by reducing human involvement in the operation process and removing them from hazardous areas.

“This aligns to our Vision Zero initiative which is central to the company’s continuous SHEQ improvement,” he explains.

Centred on altering mind-sets to motivate behaviour change, the initiative is focussed on zero injuries for thyssenkrupp employees including contractors and visitors, zero tolerance for unsafe behaviours and conditions, zero compromise on safety and health as well as zero impact on the environment and communities. 

No doubt, with mines under constant pressure to improve efficiencies and productivity, they are now demanding optimal performance from their machines and equipment.

“Subsequently, we are designing, developing and manufacturing state-of-the-art machines to assist customers in achieving their efficiency, safety, productivity and ultimately profitability goals,” states Kokoroyanis.

One such example is the introduction by thyssenkrupp’s Minerals Processing division, a specialist in comminution, of the compact and robust Eccentric Roll Crusher (ERC).

The inspiration behind the creation of this ground-breaking ERC which is unique to thyssenkrupp, stems from the growing need to look at an improved, faster and more cost-effective way to crush bulk materials and precious metals such as platinum, copper, kimberlite and iron ore.

Next-generation crusher

Launched in early 2019, the compact and robust ERC is suitable for both surface and underground operations. It is designed for easier operation with wet sticky material and very hard materials in excess of the conventional primary crushers.

Kokoroyanis explains:

“The ERC combines the ability to process hard rock material with a low-profile machine design resulting in less installation height and machine weight. High moment of inertia of roll and flywheels reduce power requirements and improves energy efficiency.

“In addition, the integrated pre-screening device allows for efficient bypassing of fines, reduced wear and higher machine capacity.”

Africa a key focus

As a leading global manufacturer of stockyard machines, thyssenkrupp wants maintain its momentum across the African continent in 2020.

“Over the years,our stackers and drum reclaimers have evolved and our latest models are now fully or semi-automated,” add Kokoroyanis.

“Through the introduction of automation, control systems and the integration of vast amount of input data, the entire stockyard system can be automated resulting in improved efficiencies.

“Information such as the location of stackers and reclaimers and the quality and quantity of the material being processed allow for better planning and subsequently, more cost-effective and efficient stock piling.”

Kokoroyanis admits that these technologies are often considered to be expensive but the resultant efficiencies and productivity improvements, cost reductions, and increased plant and equipment availability, will deliver a rapid return on investment, making the introduction of new technologies a sound investment.

“In addition, some technologies and systems can be retrofitted to existing equipment; a much more affordable option compared to purchasing new equipment with all the related benefits,” he concludes.

Digitisation ensures future substainability

In order for mining companies to ensure that they can be successful in this new age of mining, they have to digitise to ensure future sustainability – it is a question of adapt or die. This is the view of Demitri Kokoroyanis, thyssenkrupp product manager: minerals processing, crushing and screening technology.

“Digitalisation (equipping machines with sensors, applying digital technology, etc.) enables communication between fixed and mobile equipment, makes processes as well as any problem areas visible,” he states.

The next step in the digital process is the collection of this data in real time. But it is not just about collecting copious amounts of data but rather about implementing the right processes to ensure that the right data is collected accurately, adds Kokoroyanis.

“Then follows data analytics and interpreting it in a meaningful way which will enable mines to identify opportunities and areas where they can optimise processes and improve on efficiencies as well as optimise resource utilisation for enhanced productivity and safety. These systems also enable faster reaction times,” he concludes.

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Tel: +27 (0)11 236-1000