Monday 10th Aug, 2020

RTI helps bulk handlers measure and monitor

Australian manufacturer RTI provides bulk handlers with an accurate understanding of their material flow.

Australian manufacturer RTI provides bulk handlers with an accurate understanding of their material flow.

Purchasing bulk commodities is often based on weight. Power plants want to know how many dry tonnes of ore they have to get an accurate understanding of the amount of energy that will be produced.

In addition, manufacturers want to know the quality of the bulk commodities they are buying. For example, a steel mill will want to know the quality of both the iron ore and the coking coal to ensure the quality of the end product.

As a result, accurate measurement sensors are key to reducing any arguments and ensuring the value of the material is accurate.

Will Robinson, Chief Sales Officer at the Realtime Instruments Group (RTI), says quality control is a serious issue for many manufacturers, as there is not much room for error.

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“Accuracy is important, because in many industries, if a reading is incorrect it can have serious implications for a plant,” he says.

“The cement industry, for example, controls these risks tightly. Products from the quarries need to have the right amount of silica and calcium, along with other additives, to ensure the process creates the right grade.”

RTI is an Australian company that specialised in the measurement and analysis of bulk materials. It began as an instrument technician service provider for the local coal industry but has since grown and diversified.

It now manufactures and supplies a number of measurement equipment for mining, mineral processing, power, cement and food manufacturing businesses.

Robinson says traditional quality measurement requires a sample of the material being conveyed collected from the belt, where it is then crushed, homogenised and tested.

“This sample is used as a representative of up to thousands of tonnes of material that was fed into the process, and is often not very representative,” he says.

“For example, iron ore tested could show a 65 per cent quality rating, but it could have been from a relatively small pocket within the mine itself. Quality can vary throughout the ore body, so it is almost impossible to tell what the end-quality actually is from a limited number of samples.”

RTI’s solution to this is the Allscan elemental analyser, which is installed over the conveyor itself to monitor the entire product stream going across the belt. It uses technology similar to that in an X-ray machine to determine the overall quality of the materials and can be integrated with plant. Blending control software may be used to automatically ensure an even and accurate blend is achieved.

In addition, the company manufactures and supplies belt scales that have been designed with accuracy in mind that use counterbalanced weigh frames.

Robinson compares the technology to balance scales of old, that would use a known weight to measure gold.

“Most scales these days have a very heavy weigh frame supported by four load cells to carry the dead weight of this frame. Our belt scales instead use a single load cell, with the deadweight balanced out of the measurement to match the material that is being weighed,” he says.

“By removing the dead weight, we can get multiple times the measurement resolution compared to conventional scales.

As part of the company’s offering, it also provides total life cycle management from its service department in Mackay, Queensland or in Perth, Western Australia. To assist with this, each sensor is supplied with a 3G modem that can connect to the internet via a virtual private network, allowing for remote calibration and monitoring.

With COVID-19 preventing a significant amount of international and local travel, Robinson says there has been a lot of interest in the RTI remote support technology already.

“We’re quite positive to see the industry continuing to get on board with Industry 4.0 technology. What started off as a good idea has now become a necessity for many in the industry and we look forward to continuing to support this,” he says.