Extracting ore from rock requires heavy duty grinding machines.
Solid metal ball-bearings, over 10cm in diameter roll and crash into a large sealed tumbling drum while a hardened metal liners with serrated teeth reduce the rock to the size of gravel.
With such heavy duty components to do the grinding work, the mill drum liners wear out rapidly. This requires frequent inspections and costly shutdowns and stoppages to production where inspection teams climb inside the mill to carry out detailed visual inspections.
MillWatch, an Australian leader in mining technology, has developed the first miniaturised, super-ruggedized camera that sits inside the grinding mill taking pictures of the mill lining in operational real time.
It is difficult to overstate the level of technical achievement in developing this specialist application camera. Consider the camera is being bombarded by rock and heavy duty ball bearings yet performs across the IoT in real time with steady clear images for as long as the mill is running.
Through this quantum leap of innovation, MillWatch has solved a problem that has persisted for as long as grinding mills have been in existence.
For the first time mine owners can use the information gathered by MillWatch to institute managed schedules of maintenance and mill re-lining.
This one innovation is a game changer that may very well have rewritten the economics of mineral processing.
Already the team at Toowoomba-based MillWatch have secured local and international orders with several more international sales anticipated in the near future.
David Gray is lead consultant at digital information partners. www.diginfo.com.au