20190218 Raglan Mine Capitalizes on Thermographic Imaging - Header.jpg

Raglan Mine Capitalizes on Thermographic Imaging

Author: Glencore Canada | Date: 18/02/2019

Raglan Mine demonstrated its entrepreneurial spirit by introducing a thermographic camera at the concentrator to support production, avoid unnecessary costs and increase safety.

Thermographic cameras are devices that translate thermal energy (heat) into visible light in order to analyze a particular object or scene. They’ve been used by various industries for many years now, including by firefighters to see through smoke, law enforcement to manage surveillance activities, power line maintenance technicians to locate overheating parts and building construction technicians to see heat leaks.

“We were aware of the use of thermographic cameras, especially for electrical applications, such as in electrical rooms,” says Marc, Superintendent, Concentrator at Raglan Mine. “Photographs would show where heat was present immediately drawing attention to parts that needed to be addressed before they failed, however, we were unsure of the application in a mechanical environment, such as at a concentrator.” 

There was ample reason to take the technology’s potential seriously. Previously, the concentrator at Raglan Mine had occasionally experienced disruptions due to perforated pipes. The team tried proactively opening them up and inserting a traditional camera to inspect whether degradation was taking place in an effort to replace faulty pipes before they broke. However, the process was long, tedious and involved significant labour.

Then, the team toured the mill with the thermographic camera in action. They were able to witness first-hand how the camera’s photographs would bring points of wear and tear to their attention. The decision to adopt this technology was made and, once the camera was installed, given full strategic support. Three employees received two-day training to equip them with the necessary knowledge to capitalize on the new technology.

From left to right: Stéphane, Dany and Sylvain pose with the thermographic camera, which has enabled the team to proactively maintain the concentrator to support production, avoid unnecessary costs and increase safety.

Safety and maintaining control 
“The thermographic camera enables us to be proactive and maintain better control of the operation,” says Pascal, Maintenance Supervisor, Concentrator, “Seeing restriction points and areas of concern before they become urgent empowers us to plan and work more safely.”

In fact, a significant added benefit of the introduction of the thermographic camera has been avoiding risky environments altogether. Given the nature of the material flowing through the pipes, a break would pose a risk to employees and contractors given the possibility of a splash or projectile. Addressing pipes before they break eliminates this risk.

“We know what is coming and, in the future, we will be able to better target – and even budget – replacement parts on a more proactive basis,” says Pascal. “Like building a house, we’re focused on building a solid foundation first, but we’re developing a plan of action for 2019 and beyond that can evolve as we learn more about the technology and how it can be applied elsewhere.”

Thermographic images indicate where heat exists pointing to stress points or signs of wear and tear to enable the team at Raglan Mine’s concentrator to proactively address equipment issues as part of a robust preventive maintenance program.

Since using the thermographic camera, perforated or faulty pipes have not affected concentrator performance. Each time the camera indicated an issue with the piping, the team proactively addressed the pipe in question thereby avoiding costs and disruptions.  

The savings realized by avoiding longer, more costly production stops has paid for the investment in the camera many times over, while reinforcing Raglan Mine’s commitment to safety, health and operational efficiency.

Looking into the future, the team believes there may be other potential uses for the thermographic camera, such as water treatment facilities, conveyor belts and mobile equipment, to name just a few.