New technology to step-up BHP’s prep plant throughput
Vice-president of technology, global transformation Rag Udd revealed the plans at Greater Whitsunday Alliance’s (GW3) Future Workforces Summit this month, when he spoke of the enormous potential for Mackay region to be at the forefront of the fourth industrial revolution.
Among elements of BHP’s ‘technology and transformation agenda’, Mr Udd said the company saw great potential to rapidly enhance the CHPP productivity.
“If you were to build a new prep plant similar to the size at Blackwater, it would set you back around $750 million,” he said.
“And while their value to the production of coal is immense, the way they are operated has remained largely unchanged since they were first introduced.
“They are reliant on judgement and information arrived at in batches of time – like a shift report.
“Fast forward to today, and through the advent of decision analytics, we see great potential to very rapidly enhance the productivity of our prep plants and achieve a whole new level of through-put.”
Sensors would provide real-time information such as chemical properties, yield, temperatures, speed and rotation of motors, water flows and more.
“Once fully implemented, we will be able to optimise what we do – as we do it in real time,” Mr Udd said.
“And we expect a greater return on our coal because we have the ability to optimise instantaneously. This will still involve people – they’ll just work in a different way.
“Elsewhere at our sites, we have been impressed by the safety and productivity gains delivered through the latest geospatial technology.
“Drones are allowing us to gather more information about our sites than ever before.”
He also covered the companies plans to roll out autonomous haulage across its open-cut operations, as announced by BHP Mitsubishi Alliance Asset President James Palmer last month.