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The rock detection system was designed to help operators identify oversize material prior to processing.
The rock detection system was designed to help operators identify oversize material prior to processing.

Oversize rock solution wins innovation award

An innovative oversize rock detection system that recently won an award could potentially improve quarry productivity while reducing equipment downtime and maintenance costs.

The system, which was developed by Perth-based Newton Labs for the mining industry, involves a vibration sensor device that can be mounted on a dump truck. The device measures and processes signals from vibrations produced during loading and alerts operators if an oversize rock is detected.

“The pain point for mining companies is if [a] crusher goes down or gets blocked due to oversized material, you lose a lot of production time because the trucks have to queue while the oversize material gets broken up manually,” Newton Labs co-founder Simon Vincent told ScienceNetwork WA. “It’s costing a lot of these operations tens of millions of dollars just here in Western Australia alone.”

The prototype rock detection system was initially tested on a Tonka toy truck.
The prototype rock detection system was initially tested on a Tonka toy truck.

“The pain point for mining companies is if [a] crusher goes down or gets blocked due to oversized material, you lose a lot of production time because the trucks have to queue while the oversize material gets broken up manually,” Newton Labs co-founder Simon Vincent told ScienceNetwork WA. “It’s costing a lot of these operations tens of millions of dollars just here in Western Australia alone.”

According to a ScienceNetwork WA report, a prototype of the device was first created in May 2015 for the Unearthed Hackathon, a 54-hour annual event that encourages software developers and designers to build prototype solutions for resources sector problems.

“We developed a prototype which involved an iPhone, which has accelerometers built in, and we attached that to a Tonka toy truck – we borrowed my colleague’s daughter’s toy – and we strapped that on a fitness board to simulate suspension,” Vincent explained.

“So in front of everyone and the judges, we threw some rocks onto the back of this toy and … sure enough it picked up on the oversize, the lights flashed and that’s how we started.”

International interest

Newton Labs’ rock detection system recently won the Emerging Innovation category for the 2015 WA Innovator of the Year awards program, which is run annually by the WA Department of Commerce.

Vincent said the award win had generated international interest in the system.

“Quite surprisingly, without any marketing or branding, we’ve been contacted by six mining operations around the world – from Africa to Kazhakstan, Europe, North America and South America as well – who experience this [oversize rock] problem,” Vincent said.

The device is set to be trialled at a number of WA mine sites, including the Boddington gold mine and the Firetail and Kings Valley iron ore mines near Tom Price.










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Monday, 26 August, 2019 3:01pm
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