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User-friendly automation drives next level crushing efficiency


As the crushing circuit becomes automated, personnel need to be brought up to speed with the latest advances. Brian Weiss provides tips for what operators can expect from automation programs – and how they can overcome their reservations about automation. 

Overall plant systems integration and crushing circuit automation will continue to grow, expanding quickly in capabilities every year. For some people, adapting to a new cone crusher automation program fuels fears of frustrating learning curves, operational failures and troubleshooting headaches.

However,  the right automation program is designed with true simplicity and safety at the forefront. 

From a simple set-up to safe start-ups and shutdowns, crusher automation systems should be easy to install, easy to understand, and easy to monitor by any member of the quarrying crew. 

Most importantly, optimum automation ensures safe, reliable, and profitable material processing.

Simple set-up

Operators should look for an automation system with a simple, user-friendly sensor communication network. Past systems may feature dozens of separate conductor wires running from the programmable logic controller to each component, which is a complicated, time-consuming network to set up, and a major hassle to maintain over time.

A simple sensor communication network accesses a standard four-wire cable system from the cone crusher to all auxiliary systems. It’s a quick, easy set-up that streamlines diagnostics and troubleshooting, while minimising the downtime associated with common conventional systems.

Safe start-up and shut down

A major advantage is safely controlling motor starts and stops with one touch on the screen. This ensures that the crusher always safely starts and shuts down in the proper sequence (without operator intervention) to protect machine performance. A one-touch start and stop feature eliminates the need for an additional box for electrical push buttons in the tower.

For a safe start-up, the automation system will monitor the lubrication system for proper temperature and flow before allowing the crusher to start – and should an event occur, it will automatically shut off the crusher as well as the crusher feed.

For a safe shutdown, the operator hits the one-touch stop feature and proper sequencing automatically starts with shutting off the feed, followed by the cone and the discharge. The lubrication will run for an additional five minutes until all the oil flushes through and the cone comes to a complete stop. At that time, the lubrication system will shut down. Notably, the system tracks how long it takes the crusher to shut down – from full revolutions per minute to a full stop. By tracking shutdown times, operators have a way to help diagnose abnormal bushing wear.

The right automation system is all about simplicity – and end users find there’s nothing to fear – and everything to gain in peace of mind and optimum crushing performance.  

Bryan Weiss is the automation manager for Superior Industries.

Field-proven automation

In both portable and stationary operations, user-friendly automation systems are impacting crushing efficiency, and ensuring lower operating costs per tonne. The latter has proven true for an Idaho, USA-based contract crusher who is operating a Superior Industries Patriot P300 cone crusher plant, equipped with Superior’s Vantage Automation System. 

As Matthew Voigt, Superior Industries’ product manager for portable plants, explained, the crushing plant combines a 225kW cone, a triple-deck screen and seven feed and discharge conveyors – all on one chassis and configured for both open and closed circuits. The plant also features new patent-pending “level assist” technology as an innovation that further streamlines crushing plant portability. Voigt explains that after lowering the hydraulic cylinders to get the plant to the desired operating height, the level assist system automatically levels the plant. “One worker can get the job done in less than five minutes. It saves a lot of time in set-up,” he said.

On the portable plant, Voigt stressed that the Vantage Automation System monitors all the vital functions of the crusher. “It’s simple, easy to use, and acts as a warning system that alerts operators to conditions such as bowl float, excessive amperage or temperatures, and lubrication issues,” he said, adding that, “since it’s built completely in-house, the system is more affordable, and offers the user a one-call service and support package.”

On older crushers, Voigt said maintenance crews had to constantly rely upon gauges to monitor operating parameters. “Also, it was such a hassle to change settings on older crushers, causing crews to check the settings less often than necessary,” he added. “Today, crews operate the new plant from a touchscreen control panel that allows them to easily adjust crusher settings, or to start and stop the plant in sequence with the push of a button.”

Operating an automated Patriot P500 cone crusher, the Tulsa Rock Quarry in Oklahoma, US, has had a decrease in operating costs, and an increase in plant uptime. The plant’s processing team likes a number of the automation system’s features, particularly the simplicity of the sensor communication network, which accesses a standard four-wire cable system from the cone crusher to all auxiliary systems. Other big benefits include the capability of making setting adjustments on the fly, which gives them greater flexibility for changes in material feed; and allows them to easily tweak processing within all circuits of the plant. 

Tulsa Rock’s processing engineer Mike Neal said the automation system’s auto-feed function is one of its biggest advantages. Regardless of changes in the feed, the system will always maintain the desired material feed levels in the cone, while also maintaining the desired amperage on the motor to ensure optimum crushing efficiency.

What is vantage automation?

Superior Industries’ Vantage Automation software monitors and controls crusher parameters, automatically adjusting unit settings or shutting down the machine when harmful conditions occur. Designed for simple, straightforward operation, the software maintains optimum crusher production without operator interruption.

It is applicable for the Patriot range of P200, P300, P400 and P500HD crushers.

The software is available on an HMI touchscreen, which comes as part of the package, along with a 10-metre tether cord for remote locating. The touchscreen virtually eliminates the need for electrical push buttons and operator intervention, meaning motor starts and stops can be safely controlled from the pad itself.

The software monitors CSS, amperage draw in real time, liner wear conditions, and the counter-shaft RPM sensor, and can generate performance analysis reports. It will also alert users to potentially harmful conditions, such as lube oil temperature and pressure, lube filter condition, hydraulic clamp and tramp releases, ring bounce/ bowl float, lube oil and hydraulic tank levels, and the eccentric bushing temperature.

Vantage Automation also provides access to Superior’s in-house engineering team, allowing users to directly ask questions of the source developers.  

Source: Superior Industries

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