Reprinted from September 2015 | World Coal |
The key to
Fabio Mielli and Shaikh Badiujzama, Schneider Electric, USA, outline
ways to address mine fuel management challenges with smart technologies.
Ore movement (haulage) can be the single
largest energy-using activity for an
opencast mine, accounting for about
30% of a site’s total energy
consumption. The most commonly used fuel for
haulage is diesel and, with the constant increase in
mine complexity and size, as well as the
commensurate decrease in ore grades and margins,
fuel costs have come under significant scrutiny. Diesel
fuel alone can typically account for between 3% and
10% of a mine’s total operating expenditures, in some
cases even exceeding electrical power costs for the
The adage that ‘you can’t measure what you can’t
see’ and ‘what you can’t see you can’t control’ seems
to be an appropriate analysis of the challenges when
trying to rein in control of fuel costs. Among the
many challenges are: quantifying precise fuel
consumption, gaining visibility to fuel and additive
quantities in storage tanks and, in
mobile assets, lack of data from which
to obtain an accurate indication of
overall performance, fuel
consumption relationship with mine
production information and asset
performance (fuel usage under
context), ability to monitor data in
real time, reconciling fuel stock levels,
and lastly, lost inventories due to
But smart technologies and
solutions exist to make the job much
easier, providing control, visibility
and accountability where there was
Defining a fuel
Tracking fuel, from delivery through
to usage, can be achieved with
integrated, intelligent systems that
increase the accuracy of data
collection, reduce labour costs and
improve access control.
Fuel management systems are
used to monitor fuel deliveries,
inventories and consumption
throughout the entire mine. They
are designed to effectively measure
and manage the fuelling
infrastructure from storage facilities
all the way through to the use of
fuel within transportation assets of
These systems are typically used for
haul truck fleets, as well as any vehicle
fleets that require fuel to operate. The
system employs various methods and
technologies to monitor and track fuel
inventories, purchases, deliveries and
consumption by asset. This information
is then stored and managed in a central
system where specialised software uses
the data to deliver real-time
information and generate reports that
can help management make informed
Typical features of a modern fuel
management solution include:
nn Fuel system overview.
nn Site map of the entire mining
operation and tank locations
nn Real-time fuel status and visibility.
nn Individual tank status and levels.
nn Personnel ID (fuel personnel).
nn Asset ID (trucks).
nn Total site information (tank
nn Integration with financial
reporting systems and cost
nn SMS notification of major events.
nn Comprehensive delivery
Figure 1. Since 2005, among the top producers of gold, the amount of fuel needed to
mine an ounce of gold has risen from 12.7 to 21.8 gal./ounce.
Figure 2. View of mine map and fuel supply infrastructure.
| World Coal | Reprinted from September 2015
nn Ability to obtain a complete
picture of deliveries by asset and
nn Customisable reports by cost
nn Trends (for example, asset
consumption vs time).
nn User-defined trends (crossing
Local operator interface includes:
nn Manual entry (Personnel, Truck
nn Basic alarms.
nn Totals/flow rate.
The architecture in Figure 4 shows the
main components of a basic fuel
management system and the location
of its various components. Flow and
levels for diesel and additives are
measured using speciality instruments,
including wireless technologies. Each
fuelling point has a fuel management
station where personnel data
(identified by their unique ID), RFID
data (for asset identification), flow data
and tank level data are integrated and
sent to the fuel management server
(main supervision) via a wired or
The main supervisory system
displays various fuel information,
real-time data and reports acquired by
the fuelling stations. Options include
web or mobile clients, which allow the
user to monitor current data and alarm
status of any remote station or location.
Each station also has an interface with
a simplified version of the main
supervisory system, empowering fuel
personnel with rich information.
This type of flexible system helps
mining operations measure, track,
identify and allocate fuel usage for
better accountability by vehicle type,
fuel type and cost centre, providing a
comprehensive picture of fuel usage
across the entire operation. These
nn Automatic identification of
equipment and vehicles.
nn Remote monitoring of fuel storage
nn Alarm notification when tank
levels are low or high relative to
nn Hardware designed to operate in
nn Software customisable for specific
nn Remote tank monitoring with
graphic display of all fuel/oil
storage tank levels across any site.
nn Reconciliation of deliveries against
nn Prevention of fraudulent
dispensing (RFID tags and
nn Tracking of bulk stock movements,
receipts, transfers and disposals.
nn Reports (daily, monthly and yearly).
nn Trends (tank level data).
In addition, a system with an open
platform allows miners to integrate
data from the fuel management
solution into other mining software
and systems in order to optimise the
entire production chain. What is more,
by working with an energy
procurement service that can negotiate
preferential fuel and additive costs,
there is the possibility to reduce fuel
costs even further than with a fuel
management system alone.
Figuire 3. Fuelling status by fuel type, asset, operator, amount and flow rate.
Figure 4. Typical operational architecture.
Reprinted from September 2015 | World Coal |