‘Fit-for-purpose’ Design, Reliable Lighting
Magnitech’s hands-on approach assures the client of a ‘fit-for-purpose’ LED lighting solution with minimal downtime, and low maintenance requirements. In the long run, with reliable lighting, the momentum of productivity is sustained and the risk of accidents is minimised.
Currently, mining companies are eager to earn record-breaking revenue from high global commodity prices. But truth be told, they can realise this only through ensuring that their operations remain safe and productive. Among the tried and tested methods of achieving this is through the use of reliable lighting.
Procurement based on informed decisions
A situation mining companies should avoid encountering is the failure of lighting, which can result in a huge loss of productivity and an increased exposure of safety risks to workers. That is why procurement of LED lighting solutions should only be based on informed decisions.
This is what Martin Grobler, Head of Marketing at Magnitech, is telling mining companies. This is based on Magnitech’s 53 years of experience in the provision of lighting solutions for harsh industrial and mining environments within Southern Africa and further afield.
Grobler demonstrates how mining companies can forestall common lighting product failure and outlines the hands-on approach the company employs to customise the best possible solution for a respective project.
Forestalling lighting failure
From experience, Magnitech has gathered that the most common causes of failures on LED (lighting installations) luminaries are due to spike voltage, heat-related problems and the results of excessive vibration. So, to forestall these costly consequences, the company recommends that a lighting product should tick all the boxes in the following areas: the design, appropriate surge protection and resistance to high ambient temperatures.
Concerning design, first and foremost, a suitable fixture that is inherently designed to be ‘fit-for-purpose’ must always be chosen. “From the outset, the fixture should be designed to withstand the rigours of a harsh mining environment. This includes the overall design of the fixture, the materials used, the construction of the fixture, and the internal components that are chosen. Each element should speak to its intended purposes and environment,” Grobler elaborates.
Secondly, the use of appropriate surge protection is paramount. And so, Magnitech ensures that as a quality manufacturer, they take every precaution to ensure that all the internal components of its light fittings, such as LED drivers, are protected against spikes or transient voltages. The company is very particular about the installation of quality replaceable surge protection devices. “The sole purpose of surge protectors, as sacramental components, is to protect, and once it has performed its function and has given the ultimate sacrifice, it must be replaced. The installation itself should also have a suitable surge protection device protecting each line,” Grobler emphasises.
Specialised LEDs and optics for high ambient heat
Magnitech has observed that high ambient heat is another destroyer of LED lighting installations. And to manage this challenge, it ensures that specified LEDs, optics, and even wiring, are used.
Usually, high ambient temperatures affect the LED PCB by lowering the output and lifetime drastically, or depending on temperature, destroying the PCB completely as the Tj (or junction temperature) of the LED may be exceeded. These units, together with other components such as LED drivers and optics, are only designed to be able to operate up to a maximum temperature as recommended by the supplier. For instance, the higher ambient temperatures can cause the maximum allowable Tc or case temperature on the driver to be exceeded. This decreases the lifetime of the driver. Should the higher ambient temperature be prolonged, the driver can also be destroyed.
On Magnitech’s advice on how companies can manage this challenge, Grobler explains: “It is paramount to note that all components within a fixture, for example – optics, can only be subject to certain maximum temperatures as specified by the manufacturer. After that, a threshold is exceeded, and in this case, specialised optics made from materials such as silicon have to be used.”
Magnitech’s hands-on approach
Magnitech offers a turnkey solution to its clientele and employs a hands-on approach to ensuring its delivery. The company’s engineering team leaves no stone unturned in guaranteeing that all requirements specified in the order are met – from the lighting design itself through to post installation audits. Although Magnitech is purely a supplier of industrial lighting, the team works closely with all the related parties to ensure a successful and appropriate installation. The critical steps in the process encompass thorough consultation with the client, initial design and product recommendation, manufacturing, delivery, and post-installation audits.
Noteworthy, having seen the impact of lighting failure on mining operations, the company undertakes a thorough consultation with the client before embarking on a comprehensive design as standard practice,. “To create a customised design for the client, certain parameters have to be established, for instance, indoor or outdoor application, maintenance factors to be used, lux levels required and colour temperature. We also consider whether or not emergency lighting is required,” Grobler expounds.
After the parameters have been established, drawings are sent to the design department, in either pdf or dwg format for the design. After the design is completed, a full schedule or BOQ can be presented to the client.
The majority of light level requirements that Magnitech follows are specified in SANS 10114-2020. These are recommended requirements that the lighting designer is required to base their lighting designs on.
Typically, a successful installation starts with the initial design, where the company’s experienced team of lighting professionals will work with the client and consultant to understand the needs of the mine itself. A lighting design will be incorporated into the design of the installation. In the process, a multitude of factors are taken into account. These include required lux levels, type of installation, an understanding of the potential dirt and dust build-up over time, and potential harmful gases and dust in the air as a result of the mining process. In addition, even the topographical and environmental conditions may contribute to additional challenges that must be taken into account.
Once a design is approved, the client will place an order, after that, we will produce the fixtures in our ISO9001 and SABS accredited facility, based in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Delivery and installation
Magnitech then delivers the fixtures and lighting solution in line with the client’s delivery schedule, to be installed by the client or their installation contractor.
Magnitech then offers post-installation audits to ensure that the (expected) designed light levels are delivered, and that the installation meets not only the clients’ rigorous requirements but its own too.
Informed selection, minimal downtime
By and large, to ensure minimal downtime as a result of poor product selection, Magnitech recommends that the client chooses a “fit for purpose” LED light fitting and not just the cheapest that is available. Grobler emphasises that it is important that mines fully comprehend what ‘fit for purpose’ means: “When we refer to ‘fit for purpose’ in the industrial and mining context, we mean the light fittings themselves and all components are carefully designed to ensure suitability for use in this application. Does the driver have sufficient built-in surge protection? Does it have advanced features such as CLO (or), constant light output? Can the light fitting withstand vibration, and to what degree? Ultimately, many other features need to be taken into consideration to create a truly ‘fit-for-purpose’ fixture.”
Magnitech assures mining companies, as they are embarking on Greenfield and brownfield projects, that it is well-resourced to provide customised LED lighting solutions.
What constitutes mining-specific LED lighting?
A cardinal rule in the selection of any product that is to be deployed in the mining environment is that its features should be ‘fit-for-purpose’. For mining-specific LED lighting, this is no exception, indicates Grobler. “One should ensure that the fixtures chosen are designed by professionals who truly specialise in the mining environment and understand the complexities and unique challenges of the environment itself.”
Lapses in product selection result in severe unintended consequences. This is despite the fact that lighting only accounts for between 1 and 2% of the overall Capex expenditure of a mining environment, notes Grobler. “Choosing the incorrect lighting fixtures, or choosing on price alone, can have severe unintended consequences such as increased maintenance costs, downtime for the mine, decreased visibility, (and) Health and Safety Issues and personal liability claims against the responsible person.”
Delivering an LED lighting solution to a power plant
Magnitech has been delivering LED lighting solutions to customers’ satisfaction for over 53 years for use in different mining environments. Recognising its extensive experience, a client approached the company for advice on a lighting solution for a power plant in an extremely eco-sensitive area. The design was for a number of barges out in the middle of a lake where gas is being harvested as well as the onboard gas processing plant, including buildings such as scrubbing plants. In particular, this type of installation required the use of specialised Zone 2 Exn non-sparking lighting fixtures, especially on the barges.
The MAGLED MINI was chosen for this application. To ensure minimal impact on the environment from a lighting perspective, specialised environmentally aware 2200K LED PCBs were utilised, so as to minimise the effect on the wildlife and insect populations surrounding the site. The use of the MAGLED MINI was continued throughout the process plant in both standard and Zone rated versions. All emergency lighting was through a backup generator and the light fittings had to be easily identifiable.