New answers to old problems deliver millions in profit potential through engineering audits

A company committed to advanced engineering technology that delivers practical and proven solutions to mining, energy and materials handling challenges has announced a new series of audits focused on improving cost-efficiencies in material transfer processes.

Chute Technology combines its decades of Australian and international practical engineering experience with advanced expertise in new flow enhancement and problem-solving technologies to produce modern answers to problems that in some cases have hampered mineral and coal throughput for decades and cost millions in unrealised profit.

The company – which has just launched a new website detailing its problem-solving  capabilities – provides audits and solutions extending from single issues at individual plants through to whole-of-process improvements extending from mines to port or point of resource use.

“The audits respond to big changes in the mining and materials handling industries, including how to get transfer systems designed in the 20th century to achieve the higher throughput required for the 21st century,” says Chute Technology Managing Director Dennis Pomfret.

Dennis Pomfret and Gian Naldi
Chute Technology, led by Dennis Pomfret and Gian Naldi, applies new technologies to throughput challenges in partnership with mining and materials handling customers. Chute Technology’s approach to problem-solving differs radically from typical piecemeal improvements. It goes to the root of challenges and proposes comprehensive solutions based on the application of new technologies implemented through long practical experience in mining, energy, materials handling and ports.

“Sometimes the issues with retrofits can be to eliminate individual bottlenecks that are slowing down the whole process by 15 or 20 per cent compared with what the production line could achieve with them eliminated. In greenfields development or plant re-activation, the issue may require a whole-of-process review extending from production and transfer systems at the mine to loading out for export or domestic use. New technologies that are proven and reliable can deliver outstanding ROI and throughput boosts worth tens of millions of dollars a year,” says Mr Pomfret, who has been involved in major mine and port throughput and uptime enhancements throughout Australia and internationally for more than 30 years.

Chute Technology Problem Solving Process

Dennis Pomfret and advanced engineering partner Gian Naldi lead a multi-skilled team that uses audit results as part of a four-stage problem solving methodology. The team works in partnership with operations and engineering management at mines and bulk handling facilities.

Chute Technology’s four-stage problem solving process includes:

  1. Transfer System Audit. Chute Technology can either provide an end-to-end transfer audit to analyse the full materials handling process, or tailor our analysis to a specific issue that requires fixing. In this audit, the initial scope of work is identified through a site visit, customer interview and inspection of problem areas. We also determine our customer’s aims, which may include increasing equipment life, decreasing wear or solving material flow issues, for example. Chute Technology provides support to customers including functional performance comparisons (expected vs actual performance) and running DEM diagnostics (to determine the root cause of issue and to replicate any problems to assist the problem-solving process.) Chute Technology provides a report on the audit and discusses the next stage of the project).
  2. Problem solving feasibility proposal. Chute Technology uses DEM modelling, Finite Element Analysis, Thermal Analysis and other engineering tools to determine the best and most cost-effective solution. A range of solutions are developed and presented to the customer. They involve different levels of engineering and provide design improvements focused on minimising wear rates, improving belt life, improving other equipment life, increasing throughput, improving overall flow performance preventing choking or blocked chutes, minimising downtime and optimising overall performance.
  3. Design Implementation. After a preferred design and solution has been agreed upon, Chute Technology manages the final engineering, drafting and implementation of this solution from start to finish, and puts in place technologies to measure the improvement in performance.
  4. Monitoring and preventative maintenance. Chute Technology continues to monitor performance to ensure solution is delivering benefits such as increased throughput and decreased wear. Where necessary, Chute Technology can provide further support to fine tune the solution by making minor adjustments to further optimise performance, throughput or minimise wear. Chute Technology can also put in place a preventative maintenance programme to ensure all assets are kept in peak operating condition, and continue to provide consistent and long-term efficient performance.

“The process differs radically from typical piecemeal improvements in that it goes to the root of challenges and proposes comprehensive solutions based on the application of new technologies and long practical experience with coal and minerals,” says Mr Pomfret.

Chute Technology sometimes works with clients to resolve issues related to a specific transfer point. On other projects, the company takes a broader view of a transfer system, and use its engineering expertise to provide an end-to-end audit on a series of transfers, such as the example above

Transfer System Audits

Chute Technology’s range of new audits that are part of its problem identification and solving process include:

  • Whole of Plant audits
  • Total Transfer audits
  • Spillage and Waste audits
  • Conveyor audits
  • Environmental Performance audits
  • Compliance and Safety audits
  • Automation and Industry 4.0 audits
  • Risk Management and License to Operate audits

“The audits look at a plant or asset in depth and use the latest technologies to find where efficiencies can be gained, and to report on areas such as excess wear, throughput (tonnes per hour), asset life, spillage, waste, environmental performance, safety and other compliance issues,” said Mr Pomfret.

In addition to extensive experience with coal plants, Chute Technology also optimises iron ore and other minerals handling systems

Mining and bulk handling partnerships

Chute Technology has enduring and valuable relationship with respected mining and bulk handling specialists Telford Engineering Solutions (TES) and TW Woods Construction heavy engineering, with which it has partnered on projects involving some of the biggest names in mining, energy and ports.

Expanded capabilities

Chute Technology was formed as a company dedicated to improving material flow through coal and ore chutes, but it has now grown to encompass a broader range of materials handling equipment used in mining (surface and underground), ports, rail, energy, conveyors, control systems and bulk handling, including dry goods and grain,

The company’s expanded capabilities include:

  • DEM (Discrete Element Method)
  • FEA (Finite Element Analysis)
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Project Management
  • Plant upgrades
  • Plant commissioning
  • Control Systems
  • Designing, installing and maintaining equipment such as
  • Coal and ore chutes
  • Conveyors
  • Ship loaders
  • Improving the reliability and safety of unsupervised processes
  • Installing the necessary prerequisites for automation and Industry 4.0
  • Continuous support and wear management
  • Extending time between maintenance
  • Minimising environmental impacts, helping companies obtain or maintain their License To Operate (LTO)
  • Solving material flow problems