Using Drones Equipped with Infrared Cameras to Monitor Mining Equipment

At BHP’s Newman Operations in Western Australia’s Pilbara region, the extraction and loading of iron ore are being revolutionized through the use of innovative technology. The mining giant’s teams are currently testing the effectiveness of drones equipped with infrared cameras to monitor the health and performance of their mining equipment.

By utilizing infrared technology, the teams are able to measure the temperature of various equipment, such as iron ore reclaimers. This enables them to identify any components that may be operating outside of their normal limits. Similar to a doctor checking a patient’s temperature, BHP is conducting temperature checks on critical components like motors, gearboxes, bearings, and pumps to ensure they are functioning properly within their optimal temperature ranges.

To ensure accuracy and safety, the drones are fitted with laser range finders to maintain an optimal distance from the moving reclaimer. This allows for precise infrared measurements while avoiding potential collisions.

What sets this initiative apart is that these operations are conducted at night. BHP strategically chose night-time operations to minimize the effect of solar loading on the reclaimer’s components. Solar loading refers to the heat effect from the sun, which could potentially distort temperature readings. By conducting operations at night, BHP can obtain more consistent and accurate data.

This innovative practice of night-time thermal surveillance highlights BHP’s commitment to reliability, operational efficiency, and safety. By successfully implementing drone technology equipped with infrared cameras, BHP is able to continuously monitor the health of their equipment and promptly address any issues that may arise.

– Infrared technology: This technology uses electromagnetic radiation in the infrared wavelength range to capture and measure temperature.
– Iron ore reclaimers: Machines used to extract iron ore from stockpiles and transfer it onto conveyors for further processing.
– Laser range finders: Devices that use lasers to determine the distance between the device and an object or surface.

Source: BHP mining company.