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Optimize the assembly and disassembly activities of the chutes


Deadline 25/05/2020

Closing Time

Technological solutions are sought to reduce the number of hours used to assemble and disassemble chutes from ball mills during maintenance tasks at concentrator plants. An improvement in the duration of the clamping tasks of coupling systems is expected, without producing operational risks.

Operation and processes involved:
The challenge is requested by Minera Escondida, Concentrator Plant area, Laguna Seca line 1 and 2. The pilot would take place on line 2.

Current problem

In the Concentrating Plants of Minera Escondida (Laguna Seca 1 and Laguna Seca 2), the chutes are coupled to the ball mills by a bolting system. In Laguna Seca 1 there are 4 chutes each with 40 bolts for its clamping and in Laguna Seca 2 there are 4 chutes with 24 bolts each. The assembly and disassembly activity requires a person to move the chutes transfer unit (“chutera”) and a crew to couple and decouple. First, the chute is fitted to an upper duct, then alignment is secured to finally bolt it. The removal of the chutes requires similar conditions to the assembly and last between 3-8 hours each, which affects the maintenance tasks in scheduled and unscheduled shutdowns.
It should be noted that the number of bolts each chute uses is a critical factor due to the alignment and clamping tasks of each bolt.

The duration of the assembly and disassembly of a chute is very long, which significantly impacts the times of scheduled shutdowns.

When does the problem occur?
It occurs every time there is a scheduled or unscheduled shutdown in the mill where a chute must be intervened.

How is it currently resolved?
Currently, a crew and a transfer unit operator are required to perform the activity manually.

Tested technologies:
Other technologies have not been tested.


Supply Innovation BHP

aims to promote the development of projects between the Company and the Suppliers with an associative approach, where the design and construction of the solution for the “Challenge” detected by an area of the Operation is addressed jointly. In this way, the generated projects develop solutions that add value to the Company and the suppliers build capacities and competencies that translate in more and better business opportunities.

Expande program

The Open Innovation in Mining Program, Expande, is a public-private initiative designed and carried out by Fundación Chile. The purpose is to drive innovation and make possible a better future for global mining, promoting the mining ecosystem in Chile along with building a collaborative model that enables the best solutions for the high complexity challenges of mining today and tomorrow.