FLSmidth’s digital R&D bearing fruit at the right time

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As miners look for more digital solutions to ensure they can cope with the challenges that come with operating through exceptional circumstances like COVID-19, FLSmidth is leveraging decades of research and development to help them make this transition.

Terence Osborn, FLSmidth’s Director of Product and Account Management for sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, highlights that R&D is the lifeblood of the company’s new technologies. So much so, that it has some 80 projects underway to improve its mining-related offerings.

“The power of digital technology is certainly a key element of these efforts,” Osborn says. “Together with our Blue Box digital concept, based on our ECS/ControlCenter™, which is a cybersecure interface between our equipment and cloud data storage, we use our SiteConnect™ mobile app to monitor the performance of equipment and process plants in real time. The ECS/ControlCenter V8 process control platform sits at the heart of our digital vision, a key component in our growing portfolio of digital solutions and services that we call ENABLR.”

An example of this applied capability is an FLSmidth REFLUX® Classifier modular plant operating on a South Africa mine. Using SiteConnect, operations managers can have real-time access to over a hundred operational parameters on the plant. Data analytics linked to the cloud data can also generate time-based trends for instant viewing on the app.

“We have also developed SmartCyclone™ technology for our hydrocyclones,” Osborn noted. “This innovation uses sensors to detect wear and roping, a condition that reduces separation efficiency. By sending an alert when certain operating parameters are breached, the system ensures optimal efficiency is maintained, even as slurry conditions in the circuit vary.”

He highlights that the company’s machine-level solutions are offered as part of plant and process packages. At both plant and process level, there is also FLSmidth’s advanced ECS/ProcessExpert® solutions, which facilitate not just monitoring and control, but advanced optimisation enabled by state-of-the-art artificial intelligence technologies.

“It is important to remember that control systems need to be flexible, so that they adapt to customers’ needs and to their existing systems,” Osborn says. “With FLSmidth’s depth of expertise in software engineering and machine control, we can ensure that our machine-level systems connect with all market leading control systems – to seamlessly deliver the data that mines need for effective decision making.”

The company’s R&D pushes the boundaries of performance in a range of mineral processing fields. These include advancing its lamella plate technology in mineral separation applications, adapting its vertical roller mill for dry grinding in mining, and extending wear life of pumps with new polymers.

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