thyssenkrupp is an industry pioneer and world leader in the manufacture of stackers, drum reclaimers and other stockyard machines. Moving with the Industry 4.0 tide, the global engineering specialist has introduced new technology that improves stacker efficiency and performance.
thyssenkrupp stackers are responsible for stockpiling an extensive range of materials at mines, quarries and ports across the African continent. The company recently delivered a locally designed and manufactured 2000tph, 100m long (including the tripper), 300t stacker to a coal mine operating in South Africa’s Waterberg region.
“We have invested substantially in our stacker design to ultimately provide cost and time saving benefits to our customers across Sub-Sahara Africa,” notes Jacques Steyn, General Manager: Materials Handling at thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions Africa. thyssenkrupp locally designs and builds stackers with capacities from 50 to 20,000tph, in boom lengths from 10m to 65m and in an assortment of shapes and sizes such as fixed, travelling, luffing, slewing as well as a combination of the aforementioned. The company also offers customised stacker solutions to customer specifications. “Local design, manufacture and customisation illustrate thyssenkrupp’s commitment to providing customers with best-in-class products in the shortest turnaround time.
Steyn observes that stackers play a pivotal role in continuous stacking processes with stacking critical for efficient reclaiming and homogenous blending. “The basic operation of these machines and the mechanics of stacking and reclaiming have not changed significantly over the past 5 decades. However, with the advent of the digital age, manual control systems have given way to automation and most modern stackers are fully or semi-automated.”
Machines are now controlled from remote on- and off-site offices. Changes are also seen in the way in which information is fed to and from the equipment. Automation of the entire process provides stockyard managers with vital information such as knowing exactly where the stackers and/or reclaimers are, how they move, what quality and quantity of material they are processing as well as the grade of material that is being conveyed. The availability of this massive amount of data allows for a completely automated stockyard system which results in better planning and consequently a more efficient plant.
“We have designed and developed online analysers that provide analytical process controls for
stockyard blending and homogenisation as well as scientific control of mineralogy of stockpiles,”
shares Steyn. Through online analysis, the presence and amount of a large number of different
elements can be determined, eliminating the need for taking samples to the laboratory thus saving
time and costs. Using this information as input, the thyssenkrupp stacker and stockyard management system achieves an optimal blend of mineral stockpiles and subsequently ensures a constant mineralogy feed to process plants.
Stackers are normally designed for the life of mine but Steyn points to the importance of general maintenance to ensure that the machine remains in good working order to maximise its life cycle.
“If these machines are properly maintained, they will continue working for 40 years plus.” To assist customers in safeguarding the health of their stackers, thyssenkrupp offers best-in-class service which includes a structural inspection and analysis, an aspect often overlooked by customers who tend to focus on servicing easy-to-replace mechanical, hydraulic and electrical components. Steyn warns that failure of a stacker’s main structural component can result in protracted downtime and exorbitant repair or replacement costs, making regular inspections crucial.
In today’s global economy, improved productivity, production, efficiencies and safety are critical to operational survival of a mine or plant. Carbon emission management is another factor that no longer can be ignored. “Automation certainly ticks all these boxes,” says Steyn. “Operations are often daunted by the initial Capex involved in automating equipment but research shows that over the life of a mine or plant, automation maximises factors that contribute to profitability and minimises factors that drive up Opex, presenting a solid argument for investing in this technology.”
“These technological additions to our stackers place thyssenkrupp firmly in the digitalisation space and bring these machines into the modern age. There can be no doubt that stackers will continue to play a fundamental role in the future of modern mechanised and autonomous bulk materials handling, making a valuable contributing to an operation’s sustainability,” concludes Steyn.