Ensuring optimal mining engine performance and energy efficiency

A mine is a demanding, complex work environment, for both personnel and machinery. By ensuring optimal mining engine performance, mining ventilation, and energy efficiency, companies can maintain maximum uptime and workplace safety at the same time. Here’s how to do it.

Aftertreatment systems reduce mining ventilation needs and energy consumption

Ventilation is a major challenge in any mining environment. Ideally, it should be kept low in order to reduce energy consumption for the end customer. Fuel-efficient mining engines with low emissions help keep ventilation low. New emission standards create better conditions in terms of both lower ventilation and an improved work environment in the mine. This, combined with hybridization, gives end customers the opportunity to reduce their ventilation, and thus their costs as well.

Exhaust aftertreatment systems significantly reduce the amounts of nitrogen oxides and other hazardous particles in engine emissions. This means that less ventilation is required, which in turn reduces energy consumption for the end customer.

Collaborating with OEMs to ensure optimal mining engine performance and energy efficiency

At Volvo Penta, we believe that working in close collaboration with OEMs is essential in order to successfully develop machinery and equipment for mining applications. This way, the interaction between the mining engine, its driveline and its installation can be optimized to suit particular applications. In addition, we, together with the OEM, are able to advise customers on how to use their mining engines in the most energy-efficient way.

How operators’ actions and behaviors can affect mining engine performance and energy efficiency

Mining engines need to be robust and equipped with proper filters for urea, fuel, oil and air. That said, operators still have a responsibility to follow the scheduled maintenance. Doing so allows the engines to perform at their best, with long maintenance intervals and few unplanned stops. This goes for our exhaust aftertreatment system too. The engine’s exposure to dust should be kept to a minimum, through the use of good air filters. When refilling fuel, urea and other liquids, it is also important not to expose them to dust or other pollutants.

It is also easy to underestimate the positive effects of smart and safe driver behavior. When operators use machinery in a secure and stable manner, they help reduce energy consumption and maintenance. This is an area where automation could have a major impact in the future. Artificial intelligence allows for new, even more efficient production systems; yet another area where close collaboration between the mining engine manufacturer and the OEM would be important.

Optimal mining engine performance Volvo Penta

Three technological factors that will shape the future of underground mining

Having a genuine experience and understanding of what underground mining operations actually require – of personnel, vehicles and equipment – will only become even more critical in the future. This not least since many mining operations will take place deeper and deeper underground.

Listed below are three key factors that we at Volvo Penta believe will have a profound impact on the underground mining industry. Each of them offers unprecedented opportunities for mining companies, OEMs, and their partners.

  • Closer collaboration between the mining engine manufacturer and the OEM
    Working closely with OEMs allows a company like Volvo Penta to refine our mining engines even further, and ensure optimal mining engine performance. This includes helping OEMs with everything from predictive maintenance to developing components made to withstand very tough conditions. We are also able to optimize our drivelines, including their engines, gears and shafts.
  • Machine learning and advanced analytics
    Machine learning and advanced analytics provide highly valuable insights into an engine’s performance over time, and in various conditions. This knowledge contributes to improved uptime for operators – through predictive maintenance, for example. Unplanned production stops can be replaced by fewer, much less costly, planned stops. OEMs can use machine learning and advanced analytics to get a better understanding of how their machines are used. This makes it easier for OEMs to improve and streamline their machine fleets.
  • Electromobility
    The pace of electrification differs from industry to industry and depends on several factors: location, energy use, accessibility to the electrical grid, etcetera. However, one should not underestimate the potential of electrified transportation, especially not when it comes to profitability. In the case of underground mining, emission-free vehicles significantly reduce the need for ventilation. This means less energy consumption and, consequently, reduced mining ventilation costs. Electrification also helps lower noise levels, which leads to a better work environment for operators and other mining personnel.

    Visit our website to read more about Volvo Penta’s work with electromobility. This is also a topic we have previously covered here on our blog. Lastly, make sure to keep an eye out for our upcoming e-mobility guide, Making the switch from diesel to electric on the off-road!

Visit our website to learn more about our industrial engines and solutions, including our Volvo Penta mining engines. Do you have any questions on this topic? If so, you are welcome to contact me at andreas.nyman@volvo.com. Make sure to read the two other two articles in this series as well: How mining companies can reduce TCO and improve uptime and Flexible aftermarket solutions for the mining industry. If you found this article interesting, I can also recommend my article on how to improve stone crusher performance and uptime.

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