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The challenge

Keeping resources moving

During transportation of bulk resources residual material, known as carryback, lodges in vessels such as coal or ore wagons and is a major problem for the mining industry, reducing the efficiency of resource movement and causing product contamination.

In some cases, remnant ore will trigger unplanned material discharge onto train tracks, which can cause dangerous and costly derailments.

Transport carryback and load hang-ups due to sticky materials cause major problems for mines, rail networks and ports.

Negative impacts can include:

  • productivity losses (significant fractional reductions in wagon capacity, materials cross-contamination)
  • environmental concerns (dust generated from carryback during wagon return) and
  • safety risks (derailments due to unplanned discharge of remnant material after unloading).

Managing the problem is a major challenge, with significant residual material often going undetected at critical transfer points along the value chain.

A system that can rapidly and reliably identify and quantify remnant material so that mitigation can be deployed effectively is the only way to combat the problem.

Our response

Automatic detection of stowaway resources

Aerial view of an open train wagon willed with coal

We developed a reliable automated detection system to identify carryback at material transfer stations, with real-time warning signals that can be easily integrated into existing plant control systems.

The system uses laser scanning technology to create a three dimensional profile of the interior of each wagon: detected anomalies are then associated with carryback.

The laser profiles provide the raw data for our carryback detection algorithms which identify the location and volume of individual deposits in the wagon interior.

Unlike control systems that rely on human operators to identify carryback (a solution prone to inevitable vigilance lapses), the Remnant Carryback Detection (RCD) system we developed is an automated, real-time and reliable solution that identifies and quantifies carryback during material transfer, such as at terminal dump stations.

Operators can set thresholds for the quantity of carryback that triggers the alarm which, when integrated with the plant control system, ensures smooth management of carryback events.

Ongoing development of the technology has targeted related transport management issues such as wagon misalignment, bogie and wheel-set monitoring, plough detection and material deposition.

The system can also be adapted to the complementary problem of wagon over- and under-loading, a major cause of lost productivity in bulk material transport networks.

The results

A solution for sticky coal

Our first implementation of Remnant Carryback Detection (RCD) system targeted the problem of ‘sticky coal’ in the Queensland coal rail network and coal dump stations.

RDC technology has been successfully operating at two Queensland coal terminals for a number of years, where it is integrated with the plant control systems to ensure swift resolution of the frequent carryback and hang-up events.

Contact our Resources Logistics team if you need to develop a customised solution to enhance efficiency, productivity and safety.

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