My research focuses on improving the operations of mechanical equipment in the mining industry. To do this I have been targeting a variety of projects with differing companies and integrating expertise from other disciplines. My efforts to improve the current state of mining equipment can be categorized into these areas: machine maintenance and reliability, comminution and energy reduction, and intelligent machines.
Maintenance and Reliability
I have been actively involved in this area for the last 20 years and consider it a strategic area for continued research. I intend to continue to use collaborative projects with Industry for collecting data and to apply statistics, neural nets and other data mining tools to deepen the understanding of equipment behaviour in the mine. Parallel to this the industry interaction allows a gradual migration of tools and skills to the sponsoring companies. This is done via formalized training courses as well as from normal project interactions.
Once an understanding of the equipment, its environment and corresponding interactions is developed this knowledge can be used to assess strategies for optimization of management procedures, equipment selection and life cycle planning. The ultimate result will be tools developed (software\hardware and business processes) from the research that will assist the industry in becoming more cost effective and efficient.
Communition Technologies and Energy Reduction
I am interested in understanding the mechanisms of comminution and how improvements can be made in design and selection of equipment for specific applications. This has led to work in evaluating wear in gyratory crushers, scale up technologies for stirred mills and energy evaluation of high pressure grinding rolls. I believe there is much to be learned in this area and would continue to pursue research in this area. Parallel to this is an interest in wear and its mitigation. This is a significant area for mining that has not been well addressed by academics to date.
Much of the existing work on automation of mining equipment has been on applying technology to existing equipment designs. As well, the majority of the work has been for underground mining equipment. I am pursuing work on open pit equipment automation using advance controls systems and vision Over the last several years I have been working on intelligent digging funded both by NSERC and Industry. This research has opened several areas for development.