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Research and development of a Rotating Level Sensor: To provide a low-cost alternative for large stockpile profiling in real-time

Slipper, Karina (2017) Research and development of a Rotating Level Sensor: To provide a low-cost alternative for large stockpile profiling in real-time. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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A recent downturn in the mining industry has meant that lowering costs has become an essential practice for companies to remain profitable [1]. Current stockpile height sensors on the market come at a big cost to companies. This report details the research and development of a low-cost alternative for real-time stock height measurement. To develop a competitive option, the sensor would need to be able to withstand industrial environmental elements, such as heavy moving product and high dust levels. Substantial research into sensor technologies resulted in light detection and ranging (LiDAR) being the front runner for this devices measurement tool.

Development of the sensing device was centralised around having rotational capabilities to increase the measurement area of the stockpile using a single sensor. This measurement information attained from the LiDAR sensor was then processed using an Arduino Uno. Additional capabilities of the developed device allowed for three modes in which the stockpile data can be interpreted; an LCD screen on the sensor, Microsoft Excel featuring a real-time plot and output to a programmable logic controller (PLC).

Extensive testing was then undertaken to ensure the sensor was capable of meeting the initial requirements set. The sensor performed well when tested on products with varying reflectivity, incident angles, surface roughness and on replica stockpile scenarios. Atmospheric properties were tested, which included varying amounts of ambient light and dust levels. Ambient light tests gave reliable results while theoretical research into LiDAR and obscurants, such as dust, showed that there are technologies that can be incorporated to overcome dust, rain, and fog. Upon completion of this thesis, a viable prototype has been developed, costing only 1.2% of the price of the nearest competitor currently on the market, while offering similar performance capabilities.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Engineering and Information Technology
Supervisor(s): Lee, Gareth
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