Equipment & Technology

Laser focused accuracy for wagon deliveries

LASE Australia has developed a system that uses lasers to accurately determine how much product is being delivered by train.

LASE Australia has developed a system that uses lasers to accurately determine how much product is being delivered by train.

When a mine or quarry transports its bulk material by truck or train, the weight of the material can be significantly different by the time it arrives at its destination.

Often, this is due to excess water weight, either from dust suppression systems, nearby sources of water or rain. This water could evaporate in transit, or the product could collect even more water throughout the journey.

Michael Jeffrey, LASE Australia’s sales manager, said the resulting inaccuracies incurred through measuring the weight can have a profound effect on what the product should or should not be sold for.

“That’s where LASE Australia comes in. We can install Light and Detection Ranging Sensors (LiDAR) together with our patented software to accurately measure volume of the material. If we know the density of the product, we can also present the weight of that product.”

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LiDAR scanners measure the topography of a product, such as iron ore on trucks, gold on a conveyor belt or coal in a train wagon, to determine how much material is being shipped. 

For truck measurement, a scanner is positioned on a swivelling platform above the vehicle that measures the vehicle when empty and when it is filled with product. The system then compares the two to calculate the volumetric measurement of the truck.

When it comes to train shipments, however, a different method is required. LASE Australia’s Wagon Volume Measurement tool harnesses the same LiDAR scanner technology but has been specifically designed for trains and wagon measurement.

“Coal trains can be kilometres long, and unlike trucks, the wagons just keep coming. The sensors need to be able to detect the differences between the wagons to ensure an accurate reading is obtained,” he said.

“Much of the accuracy comes down on what the scanner doesn’t measure and LASE is an expert when it comes to this.

“The Wagon Volume Measurement scanner differentiates between each wagon and can detect locomotives to avoid inaccuracies or false readings.”

The devices are contactless and requires little calibration. Variants of the technology can be installed on larger vessels, such as train cars or above ships, where mounting a weightometer could be difficult.

The sensors are designed to handle conditions over 50°C and are resilient when it comes to dust.

It can also detect hangups – where material has built up within a wagon and is not unloaded. By doing so, it helps avoid paying for material that isn’t being delivered.

Jeffrey said the system benefits from LASE’s 30 years of experience designing specific sensors and software.

“For the life cycle of a mine, LASE focuses its expertise on production, transportation, and processing of saleable products. However, LASE is always excited to bring on new challenges and welcome any applications that warrant our experience,” he said.

“In our 30 years of existence, we have evolved and will continue to do so with cutting edge software and robust hardware that can fit client needs for accurate throughput data and improved efficiency.”

The company also uses the technology in its collision avoidance systems to halt moving machinery before it can cause damage. 

Jeffrey said the company continues to support Australia’s bulk handling sector and is developing new products that target the industry’s pain points.

“We’re working on a mobile volumetric scanner that can be easily set up,” he said. “In the longer term, we are looking to expand into further industries and materials.”

“We have an arsenal of engineers and other smart individuals based in Germany we can call on for commissioning and after sales support, and we’re looking to continue growing in Australia.”  

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