Winsonic Tech Blog

Weighbridge solution installed at Mpumalanga coal mine


Software development company Dariel Solutions is installing its Weigh Bridge Connectivity (WBX) goods-delivered and goods-received system at a diversified mining major’s coal operations in Mpumalanga, says Dariel Solutions executive director Greg Vercellotti.

Dariel Solutions secured the R1-million contract in January and, depending on the performance of WBX, the solution will be rolled out at all the mining majors’ local operations.

The three-month contract involved an analysis, which was completed in March, and configuration of the mining house’s specifications in April. The final phase of the project scope is the installation, which will take place later this month.

“We have come a long way in terms of weighbridge automation. Initially, WBX was designed to move away from the inefficient system of manual data capturing and, therefore, to enhance the business process,” says Vercellotti.

He further explains that WBX enables weighbridge operators to enter data into a computer, as opposed to drafting data on paper.

“Now we are taking it to the next level, which is automation. Drivers who ship coal will have a radio frequency identification card and vehicle number-plate recognition. There will also be traffic lights with sensors, which enable weighbridge operators and supervisors to focus on their primary job function – overseeing the processes and identifying exceptions, rather than capturing data,” explains Vercellotti.

WBX was launched in October last year, after an exhaustive development process, which started in 2009. It was initially launched as a pilot product at the Cato Ridge Ferromanganese Works mine, a joint venture between South Africa-based mining majors African Rainbow Minerals and Assmang, in the Northern Cape, and two years later as a full-blown installation.

Dariel Solutions MD Malcolm Rabson explained to Mining Weekly in September 2013 that the system had been designed for the mine’s specific needs and to function in conjunction with Cato Ridge Ferromanganese Works’ enterprise resource planning management (ERPM) system.

He noted that the improvements to the company’s WBX solutions allowed for greater flexibility, as the system could be changed and modified to suit the user’s specific mining requirements.

Trucks carrying raw materials from mines use weighbridges to determine the net value of the raw materials, while companies use weighbridges as a software package that cross- references the weight of the goods with an order. Companies also use the software in conjunction with ERPM systems, which assist with business functions such as stock control and orders, and truck and driver identification.

Rabson explained, however, that ERPM systems were not connected to weighbridges directly, which creates a 70% margin for error, such as goods not matching the orders. “The current systems are not flexible enough to deal with such variances, which delay the logistics process, as the goods need to be physically accounted for or checked by slow, outdated computer systems,” he says.

Dariel Solutions’ WBX electronic system functions as a link between ERPM and weighbridge systems. “The WBX electronic system matches the order to the raw materials, but can also identify exceptions such as discrepancies between the orders and the actual tonnage,” said Rabson.

Moreover, the WBX electronic system provides a full order trail, which helps prevent fraud, as the system receives an electronic record of the driver’s licence and the registration number of the vehicle used to deliver the goods from the hauling company, as well as the quantities of material that need to be delivered.

Should the record from the hauling company not match those of the driver, the system identifies and records the irregularity. Security will then notify the necessary personnel, who will confirm whether the change in driver, vehicle or quantities was authorised before the goods were dispatched. The system is connected to security booms and spikes, which will prevent the vehicle from leaving the premises without the appropriate authorisation.

Further, should goods received by a company not match the order, the company or the mine can connect to the WBX cloud network to verify the records of what was sent out by a mine for delivery. If these records do not match the goods received, the variance is attributable to an occurrence outside the mine facility during the delivery process, which eliminates the possibility of mines being suspected of fraud.

Moreover, the WBX system sends and receives records of goods received and of dispatch orders between businesses using the Internet. Should Internet connectivity be lost, the system allows for distribution to continue, as it can still track all orders and, once Internet connection is re-established, it will synchronise and match the goods ordered to the goods dispatched between the businesses.

“Through the coupling of the ERPM and WBX systems, the goods-delivered and goods- received process is automated and reduces turnaround time of delivery trucks in the yard,” he explained, noting that this makes the logistics process more efficient.