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Bengalla Mining Company (BMC)

Bengalla Mining Company finds Big Productivity Gains in Incremental Improvements with Lumada

Bengalla Mines Company

INDUSTRY

Mining

SOLUTIONS

HARDWARE

SOFTWARE

Lumada Maintenance Insights

Lumada Manufacturing Insights

Pentaho Data Integration (PDI), a Lumada DataOps Suite product

SERVICES

Premium Support from Hitachi Vantara

Challenge

Challenge:

Deliver real-time insights to mine technicians to gain control, reduce variance and optimize productivity.

Solution

Solution:

Combine Lumada industry solutions, Pentaho and Hitachi Unified Compute Platform offerings to create “ingest and analyze” solution.

Outcomes:

  • Increased production by greater than 100k tons in the first twelve months
  • Real-time insights predict production issues with sufficient time to take action
  • Fewer plant shutdowns and delays, and consistently reduced operator variance

Challenge

Bengalla Mining Company (BMC) is located in rural New South Wales, Australia, and supplies international markets with thermal coal. BMC is a major employer in its region, rooted in the community. With 420 permanent employees and 200+ contractors, Bengalla Mine is in production 24/7.

The mining industry is essential to the Australian economy, intensely regulated and incredibly competitive. BMC has approval to extend mining through to 2039, with a production limit of 15 million tons per year. Working towards its “smarter mining” vision and a desire to increase production from 10 million tons, BMC hoped to avoid a plant expansion which was going to cost large amounts of capital, estimated in the hundreds of millions. 

“To achieve that, we knew we would need to embrace technology and our data,” explains Kent Flaherty, Electrical Engineering Superintendent, BMC. “Within our Coal Handling and Preparation Plant (CHPP) we have data collection points capturing information from more than 12,500 data points from unique pieces of machinery, processes and systems, which is all fed through our Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system. We also collect data from many sensors on industrial machinery such as drills, trucks and other mining equipment assets across the site.

“We had no way to combine and analyze all that data. There were times when we would experience failures or production slow-downs without fully understanding how they would impact processes and workflows across the rest of the site. That made it difficult to make adjustments, or to prevent the same issues from happening again.”

“We needed to figure out how to consume and analyze all of the data from various disconnected systems across our operation and feed that information to our operators,” adds Flaherty. “Not only to optimize production and increase revenue year on year, but to support critical requirements like regulatory compliance, governance and maintaining our Social License.”

Cam Halfpenny, General Manager at BMC explains, “We target world's best practice and we believed that we could get there if we could work more effectively and productively with the assets and people we have.”

The Hitachi Vantara Lumada-based solution allows us to ensure that when we get an improvement, we can keep it and move on to another focus area.

– Cam Halfpenny, General Manager, Bengalla Mining Company

Solution

Despite having access to large amounts of data, BMC could not fully utilise it for the overall benefit of the plant. Shift by shift, decisions were being made by operators with different levels of skill and experience. To get better control of the plant, BMC needed to analyze its data in real-time and reduce operator variance.

“We selected Hitachi Vantara because it designed a solution that would reach beyond the CHPP and across all the different parts of our operation,” says Flaherty. “Plus, we wanted to keep using the technology, systems and hardware that we already had, and just bring in the advanced analytics bit. We were interested in the proposed solution which would deliver alarms and insights through the interface our technicians have been using for 20 years.”

“As a long-time Hitachi customer, we valued the technology and experience on offer from other business units within the larger organization,” says Flaherty.

BMC engaged Hitachi Vantara to build a cutting edge ingest-and-analyze solution combining Lumada Maintenance Insights, Lumada Manufacturing Insights, Pentaho Data Integration, and the Hitachi Unified Compute Platform Hyperconverged (UCP HC) offerings.

The solution allows BMC to ingest data from its fleet of mobile assets across the mining operation and fixed assets in the processing plant. It then assesses changes in production, performance, asset utilization and process optimization using Lumada Manufacturing Insights and Lumada Maintenance Insights, machine learning, analytics and visualization capabilities.

The analytics are guided by the experience and expertise of BMC personnel and operators. Best-practice insights are delivered to the operator advising on the best actions and adjustments for each shift to be run as efficiently as possible. The control room receives insights and alerts in time to take action, improve production, avoid slow-downs and prevent shutdowns.

Outcome

“We created metrics to ensure we are measuring for – and getting – the value we were promised. And we are getting it,” says Russel Hartin, CHPP Logistics and Infrastructure Manager, Bengalla Mining Company.  

In the first six months, we’ve picked up additional product by using insights provided by this solution to improve our tailings process and take action to avoid slow-downs. That’s a big win that adds significant value to the business, and it’s repeatable,” says Hartin.

“The insights and alerts from the solution reduce operator variance by bringing the capability of less-experienced operators up to that of the most experienced,” adds Flaherty. “Without Lumada, we wouldn't have this level of control of the CHPP.”

Overall, BMC’s General Manager, Halfpenny, says that the operation is seeing consistent improvements already and the mining company is looking to build on each of these to be ready for what’s next.

“We're in a volume game and must utilize our assets effectively,” says Halfpenny. “We were considering a massive capital expenditure program to expand CHPP capacity. Instead, we’re working the plant more efficiently and enabling our employees to work smarter. My view is, over the next five years we’ll spend less than a tenth of what we had planned.

“The Hitachi Vantara Lumada-based solution allows us to ensure that when we get an improvement, we can keep it and move on to another focus area. Each time we see a performance improvement, we can set the analytics to alert our operators if we start to drop below our newly optimized level and they can take the necessary action to correct it.”

Once fully implemented the transformation will impact the entire mining value chain, from exploration to  to marketing.  

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