U/G Mobile Equipment Data Management at Xstrata Nickel Rim South Operations

Industry: | Solution: Equipment Monitoring

On-board data management systems are offered by most underground (U/G) mobile equipment manufacturers. These datasets (engine & performance data) are quite useful for proactive maintenance, troubleshooting and other maintenance-related decision-making purposes. However the challenge is that each of these systems is unique and proprietary, and does not use common communication protocols; hence data collection and analysis can become expensive and in some cases impossible.

Symboticware SymbotAt Xstrata Nickel’s Ni Rim South operations (NRS), an intelligent solution has recently been developed and implemented in order to collect and analyse U/G mobile equipment data and then integrate the datasets into a single data historian. This has been possible in collaboration with Symboticware Inc., which is based in Sudbury (Ontario), Canada. The solution developed by Symboticware is called “SYMBOT” and it offers a vendor-agnostic open platform for data collection, integration and analysis.

So what is this SYMBOT? It provides an open hardware (shown in the adjacent figure)/software (Linux-based) platform for flow of information using IREDES and OPC-UA standards. The other intelligent feature of the SYMBOT solution is its “store-and-forward” feature.

UG network connectivity is typically limited. When a mobile equipment moves UG, it experiences intermittent connectivity. When this happens, the SYMBOT, which is mounted on the mobile equipment, stores the data. When a hotspot in the Wi-Fi infrastructure is sensed, it transmits the data to the data collector, thereby ensuring that there is no gap in the data.

flow-chartAt NRS, 6 SYMBOT units have been installed on 6 Load-Haul-Dump (LHD) trucks. Reliability of data transfer from LHDs to the data historian (PI) has been demonstrated successfully. A typical flow of information is shown in the adjacent figure.

The units are mounted inside the LHD cab under the driver’s seat (fig. on next page). The datasets are collected by “Symview” – a data collector provided by Symboticware Inc. Work is under progress to integrate the datasets directly into PI.


At the time of writing this article, datasets pertaining to sixteen (16) parameters (for e.g., engine RPM, Engine Oil pressure, Fuel consumption rate etc) are collected on PI.

The trends are available on PI SharePoint for stakeholders to monitor the data. A typical trend displaying 4 parameters for LHD862 is shown below.