MIRS launches innovative robotic solutions that automate the mill liner change process without human intervention

MIRS launches innovative robotic solutions that automate the mill liner change process without human intervention

6 September 2019

A unique piece of equipment in the world responds to one of the biggest technological challenges in the mining industry, by executing the change of liners at a speed never achieved, with high standards of quality, efficiency and safety.

MIRS launched a revolutionary robotic solution developed entirely in Chile for the lining of SAG and ball mills, at an international event that took place on September 5 at the industrial testing facilities owned by the company, a subsidiary of HighService Corp. in San Bernardo.

The main players in the mining sector, led by the Minister of Mining, Baldo Prokurica, and more than 40 mining and engineering company executives from Chile and Peru, had the opportunity to witness a full-scale model of a 36″ SAG mill and the operation of the EMMR (External Mill Maintenance Robot), the world’s first fully automated system that performs this operation autonomously and without human intervention.

The launch confirms not only the progress and high level of technological development achieved by MIRS worldwide, but also represents the biggest breakthrough in recent times in automation for the mill liner change process in the mining industry, in terms of safety and quality.

“Mining is challenged to change the way we extract and produce metals and minerals. It is now when the industry has the possibility to transform its processes and resume its productivity and competitiveness rates, and that is why the incorporation of technologies and innovations are totally necessary to face it, in a process where robotics plays a very important role,” HighService Corp’s President and CEO, Hugo Salamanca, told the audience.

40 hours less

The process of changing liners is a task that, in the case of SAG mills, must be performed every three to six months and, in the case of ball mills, every 8 to 18 months, depending on the hardness of the ore.

Until now, the only way to execute it was through manual work, performed by a team inside and outside the mill with the support of manual hydraulic machines, in a high-risk environment that constitutes the main cause of a concentrator plant’s mill unavailability.

“Minimizing the time to run the mill liner is a condition that the industry has always demanded,” says Igor Elias, MIRS Mill Reline Commercial Area Manager. “This innovation in plant maintenance reduces maintenance times and increases worker safety,” he adds.

To meet the requirements of its customers, the MIRS automated system increases the quality, safety and speed of the operation by replacing manual labor with the collaborative action of robots of up to 6 tons, which operate in parallel at a speed that reaches up to 2 meters per second, reducing the total time of the operation by approximately 40%. “A 100-hour stoppage with the conventional system will decrease to 60 hours with the use of EMMR and IMMR,” says Igor Elias.

This solution presented by MIRS performs all the high-impact work involved in changing liners, but completely automated: removing nuts and washers, removing bolts, cleaning and lubricating bolt threads, installing new bolts, simultaneously tightening two nuts, cleaning bushings and nuts, and normalizing mill for operation, among others.

High impact and versatility

During the launch, a demonstration was also given of how complementary technologies for EMMR work, such as the IMMR (Internal Mill Maintenance Robot) automatic manipulator, the first fully automatic prototype that performs liner changes on the inside of the mill.

Designed to operate in parallel with the EMMR, it automates the removal of liners and bolts from the inside, as well as their subsequent installation, and will perform other activities such as automatic oxy-fuel cutting and high-pressure washing.

“Acting together, the EMMR and IMMR systems will make it possible to fully automate the process of changing internal and external liners of SAG and ball mills in the absolute absence of human intervention in the mill,” says Igor Elias.

Additionally, both systems have the advantage of minimizing the cost of implementation, as they are installed and uninstalled, requiring minimal adaptation of the plant design and without requiring changes or adjustments, as they incorporate multipurpose tools that are compatible with the traditional ones used inside the mill, even if they are not robotic.

Both solutions feature the new MIRS Bolt-Driven technology, which allows liners to be installed and replaced without dropping them into the mill, allowing a free and continuous flow of materials into and out of the mill, and with MIRS Power Strike, which allows robotic liner replacement to be operated with different types of bolting systems.

This system allows the addition of a series of autonomous equipment and platforms, depending on plant conditions. Thus, for example, the transit of new and worn liners is automated from the storage yard to the mill and vice versa, without requiring the support of vehicles such as forklifts.