SKF’s online condition monitoring solutions improve plant efficiency for a leading global diamond producer in Botswana  

The diamond producer was looking for an online condition monitoring system that aligns with their digital transformation strategy in a cost-effective way. In addition, the customer required support for their reliability strategy in a bid to reduce unplanned downtime at its mining operations.

Owing to its proven world-class online condition monitoring systems and outstanding service solutions, SKF was selected to be a long-term partner on the customer’s journey to full digitalisation at their four mine sites.

Kutsi Jaka, SKF Product Manager: Condition Monitoring (CoMo), explains that the mining company was already familiar with SKF having been an indirect customer for a number of years. “SKF South Africa has been supplying products and services including bearings, seals, MaPro, power transmission, training as well as several other related services to the customer via distributors in Botswana. The customer has also been using the SKF Microlog hand-held vibration analyzers and @ptitude Analyst software.”

Before building a proposal, the SKF team held several online meetings with the customer, building up to a scoping visit at the mine site, to understand and define the necessary requirements. SKF South Africa recommended the Enlight IMx-1 automated machine health monitoring system and Multilog IMx-8/16 surveillance systems complete with the @ptitude Observer (@O) software to monitor the customer’s critical and semi-critical assets.

Satisfied with SKF’s proposal, the customer gave the green light to implement the online condition monitoring project to monitor all their critical assets at the mine site. The critical assets monitored in real-time by the wired SKF IMx data acquisition devices include High Pressure Grinding Rolls (HPGRs), Gyratory Crushers and Conveyor Drives, whilst the semi-critical equipment are looked after by the wireless SKF Enlight Collect IMx-1.

The SKF Enlight Collect IMx-1 system, comprising vibration and temperature sensors and gateways, collect critical data on the health of machines and equipment. Both the Multilog IMx-8/16 surveillance and Enlight Collect IMx-1 systems provide data to the customer’s historian (data store) for machine learning algorithms and analytics. 

The historian consumes the SKF @ptitude Observer suite (@O) data through the Phoenix API (Application Programming Interface) enabling the customer to consume condition monitoring data onsite, saving significantly on possible PLC I/O card costs that they would have had to invest in. The data is analysed by specialists based at the SKF Africa RDC in Johannesburg, and an overview and detailed asset health report is created periodically for the customer.

The data store collects history data such as temperature, pressure, current, voltage, and any other type of operational data, from the SKF IMx range data acquisition devices. Each of these data sets or signals also have a time stamp assigned to them in order for the historian to simplify the most demanding data reporting and analysis requirements.

Primarily developed to work with on-line condition monitoring systems, @O is a core platform in a family of reliability software applications that work together as SKF @ptitude Monitoring Suite. The software offers an easy-to-use operator interface and intelligent diagnostics functions. “The expert diagnostics and analyses functionality resident in @O provide unrivalled application insights to maximise rotating equipment performance (REP),” states Jaka. “This optimises safety, reliability and sustainability and allows the customer’s business to be more agile and deliver greater output.”

By providing real time data on the condition of the customer’s assets and general plant health, SKF’s holistic online condition monitoring solutions contribute to optimised equipment performance, efficiency, reliability and reduced life cycle costs. The subsequent optimised plant and machine availability enhances uptime and production at the mine site, for ultimate customer peace of mind.

According to Jaka, based on the success of this project, SKF will be rolling out further online condition monitoring systems to the customer’s other three mines in due course.

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