Roker says operators at non-automated facilities may run an elevator leg up to 30% less efficiently than its potential so as to avoid plugging, which results in longer lines at the dump pit and reduced throughput.
Doug Forst, president of CMC Industrial Electronics, a HazMon provider based in Burnaby, British Columbia, says removing the human element is part of the appeal of facility automation.
“One of our customers has an internal mandate for their conveying equipment — bucket elevators, conveyors and drag conveyors — to have engineering controls added by the end of 2015,” Forst says. “That means if there is an out-of-safe parameter on the machine, it will automatically stop. The alternative requires someone to manually touch the bearing, or use a thermal gun to get a heat reading, but this company wants the entire process 100% monitored in real time, tied back to a control system that will stop those machines automatically.”
Forst advises using automation system data as part of a preventive maintenance program. Reporting could reveal, for example, an overuse of lubrication. “If you over-lubricate, the bearing will run hot because it has to push the grease around, which can damage it and potentially lead to equipment shutdown.”
Integrating the facets of a facility allows automation system users to remove human decision making from their basic operations, track equipment and operations performance goals, and can assist in a preventive maintenance program.