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Jun 10, 2020

Mining consumables R&D: More than engineering or materials

Tuomas Teeri
Tuomas Teeri
Director, RTD
How are innovations in mining consumables born and where is the development of wear parts heading? Research and development (R&D) is one of our main strategic focus areas: We are putting increasing amount of effort on innovation, research and creation of next generation offering and solutions for our customers. New technologies are entering the game and product development is more agile and digital than ever.
Close-up of Trellex Polycer lining.

What triggers R&D work in practice?

In general, existing challenges or obstacles lead to new ideas and innovations. We are also continuously looking for ways to improve our products proactively by carefully identifying our customer needs versus our offering and value proposition capabilities.

New ideas can come from any party in our network, internally or externally. Usually the wildest ideas are born in cross-functional teams, which consist of product specialists as well as other functions. We want to make sure that our representatives can be approached quickly and easily in order to implement promising ideas.

R&D is strongly related to business and product strategy as an enabler. Product and development portfolios are constantly being examined with a magnifying glass to identify and fill any gaps and to reach the next level in our offering. We work in close cooperation with our metallic and rubber supply chains and external partners in selected technology fields. Key competence areas are maintained and developed inhouse.

What are the most prominent needs driving the development of mining consumables at the moment?

The customer is the most important influencer when we think about the priority of different development targets: safety, increased uptime, lower maintenance costs and maximized throughput. There may be variation in the objectives depending on the customer’s process and industry. However, the safety aspect is present in all the solutions we provide and is the starting point for all our work.  

Environmental challenges are present and will be there for the rest of our lives and those of the following generations. The global aim to reduce scope 3 emissions—such as goods, services, and transportation—have been notified and we are working seriously to reduce the carbon footprint of manufacturing, recycling and in customer operations via our wear part solutions. For example, with optimized liner design, you are able to make a difference to the power consumption and throughput of the equipment. Notable increase in wear life means directly fewer emissions in the manufacturing of liners. Cost per produced ton is one thing and CO2 per produced ton is another. Our sustainability vision for 2025 aims to bring new environment-friendly products and solutions to market globally. 

We are constantly working to optimize customers’ wear part design according to specific targets and operating conditions. Our in-house developed simulation tools allow us to predict the performance of the customized liners extremely accurately, which ensures that we deliver the gains we promise. This reduces the time to market as less prototyping and physical testing is needed to provide an optimal solution.

What has Metso done lately in this field?

Our recent innovations include designs, new materials, manufacturing methods and digital tools. Some shining examples are the new Megaliner™ for grinding mill discharge systems and the Metso Truck Body for mining trucks and dumpers that have been recently launched with success. These solutions are new to the market and provide benefits which cannot be achieved with previously known technology.

The Megaliner™ for discharge systems integrates dischargers, grates, lifter bars, and filling segments in one unit. The number of components used is reduced by as much as up to 70% compared to traditional solutions. This can cut installation time in half and decrease critical downtime notably and increase safety. 

Megaliner™ for discharge systems and the reduced need of wear parts.

“Haul more with less” is the slogan for the Metso Truck Body. The concept is centered around a lightweight hybrid haul truck tray that combines the best of high strength steel and the elastic behavior of rubber. It is designed to lower hauling costs in addition to offering a safer working environment and maximizing payload. The Metso Truck Body is 20–30% lighter compared to a conventional steel-lined truck body. This makes it possible to haul more payload per round, improving operational efficiency. The rubber lining in Metso Truck Body lasts up to six times longer than conventional steel lining, drastically reducing the need for maintenance.

 Truck Body and chart showing the wear life of rubber and steel.

What do you expect to happen in the next 5 to 10 years?

On the consumables side, more and more non-traditional technologies will come into being. The focus will not only be on steel and rubber components, but more and more also on the solution packages built around these products. Digitalization plays a big role when it comes to remote monitoring, analytics, virtual reality, wear reading, and product lifecycle management. Things will be done more in real time online and in proactive ways. Material development will focus on sustainable, long wear life solutions like hybrid materials and composites. A lot of effort is put into recycling used wear solutions and developing that aspect further.

We need and want to be one step ahead, preferably two.

All the new developments combined with existing engineering, simulation and manufacturing capabilities and knowledge will support us in continuing to be the leading solution provider in the market, generating the most value for our customers.

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