Your behavior appears to be a little unusual. Please verify that you are not a bot.


Screening insights: How producers are riding the smart tech wave

By |  January 5, 2021
Haver & Boecker Niagara’s Pulse vibration analysis service program helps operations achieve production targets and minimize unscheduled downtime, as well as demonstrate sustainable improvements through online asset management. Photo: Haver & Boecker Niagara

Haver & Boecker Niagara’s Pulse vibration analysis service program helps operations achieve production targets and minimize unscheduled downtime, as well as demonstrate sustainable improvements through online asset management. Photo: Haver & Boecker Niagara

Screening equipment does not change too dramatically from year to year.

Yes, suppliers regularly make updates, changes and enhancements to equipment, and new screening products continuously emerge within the market. But screens as seen in a quarry a century ago are very similar in look to the screens in operation today.

A screen’s function has not changed in that time, either. Still, tremendous change is making its way into screening, particularly in how aggregate producers manage their equipment and make decisions around it.

The change that’s coming is taking shape within smart technologies – and, in some aggregate operations, smart solutions are already being implemented.

“Smart tech is really a game changer for the customer,” says Wilm Schulz, parts and service manager at Haver & Boecker Niagara. “It can improve processes, increase efficiency and minimize downtime. It allows customers to focus on critical equipment. That really is a significant change in the market.”

Gains to be had

Lars Bräunling, director of product technology at Major, agrees that smart solutions represent the next frontier for screening operations. The aggregate industry is very much in its infancy in terms of adopting these solutions, Bräunling says, but improvement opportunities are nevertheless there for the taking.

“The general drive for this is raising efficiency and productivity,” he says. “We’re at a point where the only way to further improve is by making data-driven decisions.”

Major’s app-controlled vibration analysis sensor enables readings of screen box vibrations within seconds, generating a report that can be sent or reviewed. Photo: Major

Major’s app-controlled vibration analysis sensor enables readings of screen box vibrations within seconds, generating a report that can be sent or reviewed. Photo: Major

Producing data and fully utilizing it really is what smart technology is all about.

“It’s in the detail,” Bräunling says. “You can collect necessary information in different ways. Yes, you can have an expert listen to a machine who says: ‘This is not right.’ And with enough experience, he may tell you what is wrong.”

Undoubtedly, that intuitive approach to diagnostics remains common across aggregate operations. With screens, operators also continue to use analog tools to collect information.

But operators can now collect information digitally – perhaps through sensors, as with the smart offerings from Haver & Boecker Niagara and Major. That data, because of how it is captured, is also more shareable with those who must be in the know.

This latest approach presents an opportunity to operate more proactively when things go wrong, too.

“Picture your vehicle,” Schulz says. “It shows your oil light when you require an oil change. If we have the data on hand and can predict when the customer is experiencing problems, then we can proactively go out and avoid downtime. That’s where I think smart tech needs to develop.”

According to Schulz, Haver & Boecker Niagara is already proactively responding to customers through its Pulse condition monitoring system that provides 24/7 monitoring of vibrating screens. Permanent sensors are installed on the screen, recording data that’s available to producers in real time.

Through data, serious issues with screening equipment can be identified or even avoided.

“There are several incidents where I visited customers, including one in particular where we were doing vibration analysis,” Schulz says. “I could outline that there were structural issues with the machine. I showed what I saw with the vibration analysis, and he asked: ‘You could tell by looking at the data that I had a broken deck frame?’

“I said ‘absolutely,’” Schulz continues. “They are now looking at investing in condition monitoring.”

What’s next?

Pit & Quarry Roundtable & Conference 2020

Syntron Material Handling’s Brad Nichols, pictured at the far right, says engineers will be able to check screen performance trends and alarms to take scheduled or immediate action, increasing the life of equipment. Photo: PamElla Lee Photography

Bräunling, for one, has a vision for where smart screening solutions will go in the years to come.

“We can safely say there’s going to be more smart products,” he says. “Take the example of Powerscreen and other OEMs coming out with their systems. The current stage being pushed is being able to observe and visualize what’s happening. The next stage is being able to control it, adjusting as needed.

“The stage after that is going to be the self-regulating system – single machines, at first, and entire plants, eventually,” Bräunling adds. “I think that is going to be the trend.”

Self-regulating systems are already popping up in other industries, according to Bräunling. Mining, for example, is ahead of the aggregate industry on this front. Certain segments of the aggregate industry are taking to introductory smart solutions faster than others, though.

In some instances, the companies adopting smart solutions are larger in size and more corporate in nature. But individual operations within the larger producing companies sometimes have their own independent approaches, Bräunling says. So, smart tech presents opportunities to streamline activities across a greater company.

Still, the largest producers aren’t the only ones buying into smart tech. In terms of adoption, Bräunling can draw a bit of a generational line between those taking to it and those who have yet to engage.

“We are seeing a lot of generational change,” says Bräunling, whose company offers sensor technology that delivers vibration measurement data for producers. “Owners are passing the business on to younger family members, plant managers retire and younger ones step in, and as that generation changes so does their perception of what’s necessary and how digital everything has to be.”

The idea of analyzing a product in stream is another exciting possibility, Bräunling adds.

“There are systems where particle size is analyzed live,” he says. “If there is a shift, the system will regulate the crusher setting to adjust it. This already exists in more advanced operations, but I think this is going to push into smaller, more closed-off systems like track mobiles that are really their own plants. I do think it will still be a few years until we see fully integrated solutions.”

Syntron Material Handling’s Brad Nichols also sees a number of new possibilities arriving in screening.

“Oil level detection, bearing temperature, vibration monitoring and stroke measurement allow Syntron engineers to custom-make feedback screens in a cloud-based or non-cloud-based system utilizing an industry-available gateway to connect wirelessly or through a site’s LAN (local area network),” says Nichols, business unit manager of bulk handling systems at Syntron. “Now, your engineers will be able to check screen performance trends and alarms to take scheduled or immediate action, increasing the life of your equipment.”

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is the editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry magazine. Yanik can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

Comments are closed