- In Customer Stories
- Posted 20/02/2015
RME Unearths Multi-Million Dollar Customer Cost Savings Following Creation of a Simulation-based Project Approach
Optimise Maintenance Operations
Lanner solution enables mineral
processing equipment leader to
boost productivity and improve
service through optimisation of mill
“As part of a strategy to continually refine and enhance
processes and techniques, we selected Lanner’s WITNESS
simulation software platform to underpin our mill relining
optimisation consultancy work with our customers.
Our MILL RELINE DIRECTOR toolset is built around a
configurable WITNESS model. A video capture and reduction
process extracts real world data from video footage, creates
time frequency distributions of actual mill reline tasks and
stores this data in an ever growing database.
RME’s graphical configuration tool utilises an interactive
3D model of the mill to facilitate the setup of hundreds of
variables and distributions into multiple ‘what if’ scenarios.
This enables us to study actual performance and potential
improvements to the Reline Process.
Multiple replications of each scenario are simulated in
WITNESS using the MILL RELINE DIRECTOR model to
produce a statistically accurate result. A Standard Reporting
framework distils the simulation output data int o easily
By using a configurable WITNESS model as part of our MILL
RELINE DIRECTOR toolset, we have delivered substantial
cost savings and productivity gains to our many mineral
processing customers around the world – whether they are
looking at designing a new grinding plant or refining the
process within an existing facility.”
Peter Rubie, General Manager and Chief Engineer,
Russell Mineral Equipment
A Complex Industry
The mineral processing industry currently faces
a number of challenges, from volatile commodity
prices, increasing costs and skills shortages to
extreme weather and environmental conditions.
In order to increase profitability, operating
costs must be controlled and potential efficiency
improvements continually evaluated. This means
that across the whole mineral processing supply
chain, from extraction through processing to
transportation, there are business questions
which are ideally addressed through simulation.
An asset-intensive sector, mineral processing
equipment is expensive and to keep it operating
optimally, maintenance is crucial. One of the
key maintenance activities undertaken at a
mineral processing site is relining of grinding
mills. This process requires lengthy shutdowns
of the grinding mills, costing vast sums of money
through lost productivity.
A grinding mill is like a huge concrete mixer
containing large steel balls which tumbles lumps
of ore and breaks them down into smaller
particles, a process necessary before separating
the valuable minerals from the host rock. Heavy
liners are attached to the inside of each mill
to protect it from damage. The liners wear
fast and require replacing on a regular basis.
Undertaken twice a year on average, a typical
reline process can take between 50 and 100
hours, with each hour of lost production costing
between $50,000 and $200,000 in revenue.
Reducing the time required to reline by one day
can recover millions of dollars in revenue lost
through inefficient processes and under-used or
Driving Process Innovation
As part of their commitment to improve the
performance of their customers’ mineral
processing concentrators, Russell Mineral
Equipment (RME) invested in the optimisation
of the overall relining process as part of their
service offering. By looking beyond just the
equipment they supply and taking a holistic view
of their customers’ relining process, RME are
able to demonstrate how the relining activities could be best organised and complimented with
appropriate products and services, resulting in
greatly enhanced productivity and significant
cost reductions for customers.
All RME customers are slightly different to one
another, however the relining process commonly
uses similar sophisticated and rapid transport
systems to extract worn liners and install new
ones, including advanced 7 or 8 axis placement
machines and various bolt removal and fixing
devices. The execution is constrained by the
limited points of entry into the mill and the
configuration of the working platforms around it.
Operators attempting to optimise the relining
process are faced with a major challenge due to
the high degree of variability for each element
of the process. While estimations are the most
common means of reline planning, they cannot
evaluate, demonstrate or predict the effects on
reline time of the introduction of new technology,
additional labor, additional equipment, site
modifications, or the natural variations inherent
in a complex process.
RME’s Engineers have often been asked to
predict the effect on relining times, of changing
mill liner and reline variables. Aware of the
optimisation challenge faced by mineral
concentrator operators, RME investigated
methods of modelling the reline process
and observed how modern manufacturing
environments used predictive simulation
to optimise productivity and resources. By
integrating WITNESS into their approach and
MILL RELINE DIRECTOR product, RME are able
to extend their simulation capability to their
customers, thereby allowing customers to build
a solid business case for investing in appropriate
relining products and services while optimising
relining processes at the same time.
A model developed in WITNESS is used to analyse the current reline operation at a customer site, providing statistically accurate, configurable, and dynamic simulation of their mill relining process. The data used in the evaluations is crucial to the validity and confi dence to be had in the results and recommendations. RME addressed this by developing a database of numerous mill relining projects and using this as the basis for future predictions. All new projects are adding continually to this knowledge base.
To manage the unique constraints for each mill, new data is obtained through the use of customised, long memory, rugged video cameras which capture the entire relining process. This footage is then analysed to identify individual process steps and the time required for each individual reline activity. RME then use these data points to construct statistical distributions that are used to create a ‘Reference Reline’, a virtual snapshot of a customer’s reline situation, and is the basis for evaluating options for each customer.
Using the constraints of the local environment, each customer’s budget and RME’s vast experience in mill relining, RME develop a series of alternative scenarios which are simulated and analysed. Each alternative scenario is then compared to the Reference Reline to assess the effectiveness of the proposed changes, the impact on overall reline time, equipment utilisation and individual reline activity efficiency.
The model itself contains several hundred elements, each imparted with behavioural data drawn out of many hours of actual reline video footage. RME analysed the footage second by second to produce around 50,000 discrete reline activities along with associated meta-data for inclusion within the reline model. These outputs were then evaluated to ensure that the behaviour of the reline model was consistent with real world observations and reline practices.
“MILL RELINE DIRECTOR is a hugely valuable
solution to provide to our customers – whether
they are looking to optimise an existing process
or design a new facility.
“For individual relining facilities at existing
operations, RME starts with either video capture
and other plant data, or completion of a detailed
Data Sheet. For mills using the Data Sheet
approach, typical values derived from a database
of actual relines are used. And for new facilities,
the model quantifies good plant design in order
to inform and quantify investment decisions, as
it provides reliable ‘real world’ times for typical
equipment, processes and solutions, thus enabling
mills to optimise practices from the outset.”
Geoff O’Shannassy, MILL RELINE DIRECTOR Engineer, RME.
A Valuable Commodity
“In the creation of this solution we now have
a service which stands to immensely enhance
our customers’ experience and decision-making
processes. Irrespective of prior experience in
grinding mill relining equipment and practices, mill
owners and operators now have a robust, accurate
and tangible methodology to substantially lower
their operating costs and increase mill uptime and
Through improvements to the relining process
alone, MILL RELINE DIRECTOR has been able to
quantify that mineral concentrator operators can
improve their overall concentrator performance,
adding millions of dollars per y ear in revenue to
their operation. In an industry where operating
costs are under continuous scrutiny, few can afford
to ignore this kind of benefit.
“By using a configurable WITNESS
model as part of our MILL RELINE
DIRECTOR toolset, we have
delivered substantial cost savings.”
Peter Rubie, General Manager and Chief Engineer,
Russell Mineral Equipment
“In the creation of this solution
we now have a service which
stands to immensely enhance
our customers’ experience and
Geoff O’Shannassy, MILL RELINE DIRECTOR Engineer, RME