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Hansford Sensors: Monitoring in mining

10 February 2015

Costly unexpected machine downtime is leading to mining companies introducing productivity boosting initiatives to remain competitive. With that in mind, implementing a proactive maintenance system is the most effective way forward, says Chris Hansford, Managing Director of Hansford Sensors. 

Although mining sites vary in size and scope, in general mining machinery operates around the clock. This means that rotating components in machinery such as crushers, pumps and conveyors are heavily used for considerable time periods. Whereas members of the workforce take a break, machinery doesn’t because any downtime has a direct effect on the bottom line. It is therefore essential that machinery performance and output is optimised and the best way to do so is to implement an effective maintenance strategy, which can boost productivity and profitability.

One method that has proved to be a key tool for plant and equipment maintenance is vibration monitoring. Its popularity is continuing to grow as many mining companies have experienced first-hand its positive impact on machinery uptime and productivity. With careful monitoring they are able to not only extend operating life beyond recommended maintenance intervals, but also ensure that catastrophic failure is avoided by identifying rapidly increasing vibration before it’s too late.

Although machinery must be continuously monitored to warn of wear in bearings and components, it is frequently installed in hard to reach or potentially dangerous locations.  By using remote vibration monitoring systems, site operators can maximise both performance and safety levels, as the requirement for engineers to come into close contact with potentially hazardous equipment is removed. This, alongside its cost-effectiveness and profitability boosting benefits, is one of many reasons why the technique of vibration monitoring is becoming increasingly relied upon in the mining industry.

One of the most popular vibration monitoring options for use in mines is that of accelerometers, especially those that are certified to the latest ATEX (IECEx) standards (Group I Mining) for potentially explosive gas atmospheres, such as underground coal mines. Compact and reliable, accelerometers can be specified for a variety of environments in the mining sector. For example, within the mining sector it is common to monitor conveyors that are running under 60Hz. In these situations a higher sensitivity sensor, for example, 500 mV/g (HS-100 Series) can improve the signal to noise ratio and increase the capability of conducting a full data analysis.

Whether the sensors are to be installed on a crusher, screen, conveyor pulley or drive, a specialist vibration monitoring solutions provider is able to recommend the best model, such as a side-entry/low profile model. If conditions permit, top-entry can be used, but the location of the sensors may need to be reviewed to ensure debris (for example, coal falling from a conveyor) cannot damage the sensor. Some mining environments are suitable for installing top-entry sensors, for example a pump room. In these areas using a top-entry unit for a more cost effective solution is advisable.

As the mining sector has increasingly implemented vibration monitoring, the technology and equipment has developed to meet requirements with some common sense solutions. For example, a customer of Hansford Sensors commented that when dust settles on the lid of a standard enclosure it can fall inside when the lid is opened, so we now provide an enclosure that has a sloping roof, which protects against dusty and dirty environments by allowing run-off of contamination.

Accelerometers are a valuable tool in vibration monitoring and by working alongside a solutions provider that has experience in the mining sector, mining operators can implement an effective vibration monitoring programme and ensure that both machine uptime and productivity is maximised.

About Hansford Sensors: the International Centre of Excellence for Vibration Monitoring

Hansford Sensors Ltd specialise in the design and manufacture of accelerometers for monitoring vibration and temperature levels of industrial machinery, playing a key part in the role of predictive maintenance. Products include intrinsically safe models for approved use in Group I (Mining) and Group II (Petrochemical). Hansford Sensors Ltd also supply multi-sensor switch boxes, vibration sensor modules, portable vibration meters, accessories for sensors, vibration condition monitoring protection systems and custom built vibration sensors.

For more information on the extensive range of Hansford Sensors products, please visit

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