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Autonomous sensorized rollers for industrial conveyors for failure early detection

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - GAZIMO (Autonomous sensorized rollers for industrial conveyors for failure early detection)

Reporting period: 2019-08-01 to 2020-01-31

Nowadays, conveyors are the most common system to move materials in different sectors like: mining, steel, chemical, thermal, etc... Fuel prices and difficult access places make conveyors the best option not only in terms of speed or convenience but mainly due to economical reasons. Although their initial investment is higher than other alternatives, conveyors’ long lifespan make the return of investment a reality in 4 or 5 years.
However, conveyors suffer from a pandemic disease: their rollers. Every conveyor is mainly composed of three kind of components: rollers, belt and drums. The rollers are the main critical part, suffering from corrosion, abrasion and the contact of the materials which are being transported make the rollers collapse. Their lifespan is very dependent on the environment and the materials carried, but the results are always fatal: belt deterioration and sudden stop of the whole conveyor. Considering that the average conveyor length is more than 10Kms (reaching in some cases 100Kms) and that many conveyors operate 24x7, the economic losses of an unexpected stop can reach to millions of Euros. As an example, recent studies confirm that in the mining sector in 2017 more than 40% of their installed conveyors had an unexpected stop assuming for the whole sector more than 250 M€ in losses last year.

GaZiMo is a brand-new improved conveyor belt roller introducing new technologies in order to identify problematic rollers that may culminate in the breakdown of the entire conveyor, with its associated subsequent costs. GaZiMo includes sensors that measure roller temperature, a self-energy generation system, a communication module and an online platform to monitor the entire system.

GaZiMo is composed of the new intelligent roller and the management software:

Intelligent Roller: The roller is the result of developments over the last 5 years within the ULMA Group, following the specifications determined by top entities in the mining sector. The roller has the same dimensions of a traditional roller (which depends on the type of conveyor). The build materials are the same, in order to keep the same durability and minimise corrosion. This new intelligent roller will only have a 10% higher manufacturing cost than traditional rollers. However, once the manufacturing process gets optimised, costs will decrease, presumably reaching traditional roller levels in a few years. Apart from that, investment in new rollers will pay off due to important savings in maintenance costs.

GaZiMo Software: The software is used to gather data from the rollers, treat said data, analyse it, locate the faulty roller and generate custom appropriate reports per conveyor and/or customer. The system allows companies to gather information on technical parameters of the rollers, general status and location. Thanks to this vast amount of data, maintenance teams can anticipate how many rollers must be replaced and where they are exactly located along the conveyor belt. In this way, companies can assess workforce and spare part stock needs more accurately, as well as avoid unexpected issues that would otherwise affect operation negatively. Given that a real-world conveyor facility can easily have over 30,000 rollers, the amount of data generated by several installations needs Big Data tools and technologies in order to be treated and analysed.
The work done during the 6 months of the project has thoroughly been following the work plan signed in the Grant Agreement. In the following lines, the work plan is explained and detailed:
Objective: Analysis of the innovative value proposition that enables the sale of the product with enough profit margins to allow the return on investment and ensure the future sustainability.
Tasks: Three different tasks have been implemented during the project execution:

Task 1: Market: Including: Market features; value chain; market segmentation; opportunity; competition and regulation

Task 2: Value proposition, business model and commercialization. Including: Description of product & service; differentiation; Intellectual property; business model; commercialization; Risks, Activities; Resources; Time to market;

Task 3: Cost, revenues and funding scheme. Including: cost structure; revenue model; sales projections; financial and funding scheme.
As explained previously in this document, even if other competitors offer intelligent roller solutions, none are as advanced as GaZiMo, as it offers a solution perfectly aligned with the needs of the sector. When compared to traditional rollers and their visual maintenance process, GaZiMo offers the following benefits:

40% increase in accuracy. Accuracy will be improved thanks to the determination of the exact roller that is failing, allowing for a simple and quick replacement.
90% visual test time reduction, thanks to the automation of tests and digitalisation of data, preventing potential human errors. Time reduction results in a direct cost reduction for mining companies and a quicker result evaluation.
Exploiter facility stock needs cost reduction. The service model proposed by ULMA will supply the rollers to customers before they fail.
Automatic result collection, interpretation, comparation and management, resulting in a simpler and easier management system.
Simple database generation, for the interest of research for future developments.