Iron ore, gold, coal, potash and other metals and minerals have been important resources since prehistoric times. But the methods of mining those resources have drastically improved. Today, mining companies use hoisting equipment to quickly move materials and personnel from underground to the surface – typically between a half mile to a mile deep.
As technological capabilities grow, mining companies look to become even more productive and competitive globally. They want to run hoists continuously without stopping for unplanned maintenance, and increase the load size brought up by the hoists. However, safety and reliability are a major concern. A hoist's skip can move up to 60 feet per second and needs to stop within a predetermined position without causing any issues.
Modern hoists today can operate without any supervision or operators. Operators can monitor the automatic operations from an on-site control cabin. However, more companies now see the value of remotely monitoring operations.
INCO Engineering designs and builds modern mining hoists and complete systems for vertical and inclined transport in mines, based on the rich tradition of CKD Prague established in 1874. The Prague-based company designs customized equipment for customers around the globe – including in Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkey and India – and is growing in the U.S. and Canada. Customers' targeted resources include coal, iron ore, uranium, copper, potash, silver and gold.
INCO's hoists are technologically advanced behemoths, reaching up to two stories high. INCO works closely with customers to design and build the hoists to mine requirements. While the hoist specifics may change from customer to customer, the biggest constant is the need for safety and reliability. INCO builds layers of control redundancy into each hoist system to help minimize the risk of downtime.
A global network with Rockwell Automation provides customers with access to the latest automation products and global services. The company uses Allen-Bradley® PowerFlex® 750 AC drives and high-voltage PowerFlex 7000 drives, as well as the PowerFlex 7000 active front-end rectifier for powerful speed control.
An Allen-Bradley CompactLogix™ 1769-L33ER programmable automation controller features an integrated platform for control and motion execution, communicates over an Ethernet network, and can be configured in a single programming environment. This provides INCO's customers with fewer spare parts to maintain, while the control platform's openness helps to ease integration with third-party components.
The control system supports a device-level ring network topology, helping users maintain communications if a fault occurs. Cabling is reduced due to an application of distributed inputs and outputs. An Allen‐Bradley PanelView™ Plus 6 human-machine interface provides a user-friendly interface between the machine and operator monitoring the hoisting process.
In addition, INCO developed and offers Transdatic, an advanced remote-monitoring system. The system continuously monitors conditions of selected equipment, and data is securely transferred to INCO's central service center. If an issue occurs, INCO staff can notify customers immediately – reducing the customers' maintenance costs. Staff can also analyze the most frequent faults, and help customers make equipment and process adjustments to prevent further occurrences. The Transdatic system can be implemented with hoists anywhere in the world from the service center in the Czech Republic.
As part of the OEM Partner program with Rockwell Automation, INCO has reached new markets and customers in the mining industry. The INCO staff utilizes Rockwell Automation services for global equipment maintenance and support.
“As we've expanded from building hoist equipment to providing services to maintain them, our collaboration with Rockwell Automation has grown,” said Dr. Jan Houdek, CEO and co-owner of INCO Engineering. “No matter how remotely located our customers, we know we can rely on Rockwell Automation. And in turn, our customers know they can put their trust in us to keep their operations safe, reliable and productive.”