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Automation today and tomorrow

June 2, 2015

Increased automation in technology is reducing investment costs, lengthening the life of equipment and increasing safety, fuel efficiency and reliability.

Atlas Copcoís Scooptram Automation features advanced software and sensors. The system makes safe, fast and accurate operation in hazardous areas a real possibility.

Atlas Copco mining equipment

Automation underground

Underground mining can be a dangerous business. It’s also hard for managers to keep track of what all the miners and machines are doing down in the mine. To help its customers address both of these challenges, Atlas Copco is working on products and systems in the fields of automation and integration.

Automation technology allows companies to remove machine operators away from high-risk areas, says Julian Reynolds, Atlas Copco’s Product Line Manager for Automation in the Underground Rock Excavation area.

Atlas Copco is partnering with the Swiss-based multinational ABB in a project called Underground Mobile Equipment Integration. ABB has an automation development platform that allows Atlas Copco to bring in a variety of different functions into the mine and onto one platform to monitor and control miners and machines. ABB is involved the process control aspect of the project, while Atlas Copco will focus on collecting and transferring data from the machines.

For customers, the ultimate benefits of automation and integration are that miners are exposed to fewer hazards while managers operate more efficiently and gain more timely information about what’s going on underground.

Compressor data goes mobile

Imagine being able to monitor an Atlas Copco compressor or dryer’s operations anywhere, anytime, from a smartphone or a tablet computer. Actually, no imagination is necessary, since that capability is already here.

The Elektronikon® App, Atlas Copco’s first mobile app for the compressor market, links directly to the controllers in Atlas Copco’s compressors and dryers. Previously, compressor operators could monitor their installations’ performance over the intranet thanks to the Elektronikon Mk 5 controller. With the app, users can monitor an installation’s real-time status, such as running hours, analog inputs and running or stopped status. Both the Elektronikon controller and the app are available in 32 languages.

The Elektronikon App is designed for Apple and Android mobile devices and can be downloaded for free from iTunes or Google Play. Customers with an existing Atlas Copco compressor with an Mk5 Elektronikon controller can use the app after updating their software.

Documented improvement

A structure is only as strong as the foundation upon which it is built. This applies figuratively to most things in life and literally to things such as buildings and roads.

Soil compaction must be performed in the right way in order to guarantee the quality of road construction. But as a report from the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute notes, the documentation on compaction performed needs to be improved.

Computerized documentation systems can help. One example is Atlas Copco’s Compaction Analyzer (DCA) system, which uses the roller as a measuring instrument to check the compaction results, number of passes and other information vital to the process and document the data. By using GPS information for positioning, the results can also be presented on a map or drawing.

Knowing the number of passes for each individual project is a major advantage for contractors. Too few passes can lead to poor quality, and – in the worst-case scenario – expensive claims for damages. Performing more passes than required is a waste of time, money and fuel, and causes unnecessary wear to the equipment.

Vassbakk & Stol AS, one of the leading earthwork companies in Vestlandet in southwest Norway, has seen the benefits of using the DCA system.

“Offering project documentation has helped us win several prestigious projects,” says Jon-Aage Ødegaard, training coordinator at the company’s headquarters in Kopervik.

Turkish power

A hydroelectric power plant under construction in northern Turkey aims to generate 470 Gigawatt-hours a year, enough to power about 150 000 homes. Norway’s Statkraft, Europe’s largest generator of renewable energy, is the prime contractor for the Kargi hydropower plant, while Turkish construction company Gülermak is responsible for the drilling and tunneling at the site, some 200 kilometers northeast of the capital Ankara.

After experiencing some difficulties with its tunnel-boring machines, Gülermak turned to Atlas Copco for a fully automated computerized drill rig.

“The most important reason to choose Atlas Copco is the experience,” says Ömer Yeni, Chief Geological Engineer for Gülermak. “We believe that Atlas Copco Turkey has the best service coverage compared with its competitors.”

Gülermak is using Atlas Copco’s boomer face drilling rigs to excavate an 11-kilometer-long tunnel with a face of 104 square meters, the largest ever in Turkey. “Considering these harsh and critical operations, you have to buy the best machine,” Yeni says.

“When the machines arrived at the construction site, eight Atlas Copco personnel were ready to train our engineers, technicians, supervisors and of course our operators,” he says. “That impressed us.”

Written by Michael Miller & Ulf Wiman

The Elektronikon App monitors installations in real time.

Soil compaction equipment

Drill rigs Compressors Safety Energy efficiency Global Productivity Mining equipment Mining Road compaction equipment Automation