Fuelling heavy equipment used for china clay mining operations
Imerys is the world leader in mineral-based specialty solutions for industry, Imerys transforms a unique range of minerals to deliver essential functions (heat resistance, mechanical strength, conductivity, coverage, barrier effect, etc.) that are essential to its customers’ products and manufacturing processes.
Whether mineral components, functional additives, process enablers or finished products, Imerys’ solutions contribute to the quality of a great number of applications in consumer goods, industrial equipment or construction. Combining expertise, creativity and attentiveness to customers’ needs, the Group’s international teams constantly identify new applications and develop high value-added solutions under a determined approach to responsible development.
In the United Kingdom Imerys’ activities are run by Imerys Minerals Ltd who manage the extraction, processing and marketing of Kaolins (China Clay) , Ball Clays and Calcium Carbonate.
“Merridale fuel management has been in operation for 14 years and it remains a key element of our mobile plant logistics.”
Imerys’ China Clay from Cornwall makes its way into a diverse range of customer products covering the manufacture of paper, ceramics (both tableware and sanitaryware) paint, adhesives, rubber, plastics – to name just a few.
The process begins in the vast open cast mines located across central Cornwall. The Mining operations use two different methods – either ‘wet’ or ‘dry’ to extract the raw material. In ‘wet’ mining the clay is liberated by high pressure hoses and processed from a slurry. And in ‘dry’ mining, the clay is simply excavated and loaded into dump trucks for further treatment in a specific plant that separates the raw material for further processing.
“Either way, this is a big scale industry utilising heavy machinery and plant which consumes around half a million litres of fuel oil a month cialis super aktiv. Service support and light vehicles account for an additional 10,000 litres of road diesel a month,” explains admin and systems manager, Mark Rundle.
Fuel storage tanks are located at strategic locations across the China Clay operations. The fuel drawn at each of these locations is monitored by Merridale Auditor units.
Where possible product is transported by rail instead of road and Imerys complements its own heavy mining equipment such as dump trucks , dozers and excavators with contracted equipment to meet the operational needs of the business. Fuel management however, remains a priority and the Merridale system has been adapted to meet the group’s changing operational requirements.
The introduction of GPRS communications has enabled the fuel management task to be processed from a single location. This is now a site office within a quarry which is central to the operational area. At the start of each day the administrators dial into the individual fuelling points to download the latest fuelling transactions.
Fuelling records for heavy mining equipment are collated by the site plant co-ordinator, Pauline Hicks and her colleague, Lisa Hooper, looks after the small vehicle fleet – mostly Land Rovers and other utility vehicles.
Reports are created using the Merridale fuel management software. Fuel is allocated either against specific vehicles or as in the case of heavy machinery, it is charged against the particular mining location. The ultimate purpose is to ensure that the costs are allocated correctly to the appropriate user account within the organisation.
Mark Rundle continues: “We use Merridale to monitor and record all the fuel that is delivered to all mobile plant and vehicles. A particular feature of the Imerys’ operations is that fuel must be transported to the equipment within the mining area. This service is provided by a bowser tank pulled by a Caterpillar tractor unit fitted with a fuelling attachment. This outfit, together with a Merridale Auditor unit installed within the cab, makes a daily round of the pits in this area and fuels all the mobile equipment together with the static pumps and lighting towers.
Fuelling times are usually geared around natural breaks, when the heavy dump trucks move to a suitable point at the end of a shift. As well as fuelling, this provides an opportunity to carry out routine maintenance checks.
“The fuelling bowsers return to base every evening where the day’s fuelling records are downloaded automatically while they are parked up.
“The data collected by Merridale enables us to analyse fuel consumption across different types of machines. In this case we are tracking the fuel consumed by SMUs (service meter units) rather than vehicle mileage. The information can be used for comparative trials as we are constantly exploring different methods and ways to manage or reduce our overall spend on fuel.
The fuel bowsers complete about 100 refuelling operations each day. This analysis of this data is reported on a monthly basis. Should there be any anomalies, these will be immediately apparent and investigated.
Mark Rundle concludes. “As well as financial, fuel usage comes with environmental costs. We are completely focussed on the environmental impact of our operations and additionally we work hard with our employees and contractors to ensure that we do not compromise safety in our day to day activities.
“Since fuel usage represents a significant cost, we must ensure wherever we can that we are doing things efficiently and ensure that we achieve optimum productivity from these big machines.
“Merridale helps us by providing good quality information, enabling management to make better informed decisions about deploying different types of machines and if necessary, to compare different contractors and their drivers’ individual skill and economy performance. “