Rock solid reliability – how Zytronic’s rugged touchscreens are helping improve quarry efficiency

When looking to speed up the flow of trucks checking into its busy mines and quarries, Australia’s largest construction material supplier, Boral Limited, decided to apply ‘smart’ technologies. As a result, haulage drivers now use specially designed kiosks, with Zytronic’s interactive touch sensors, at Boral’s incoming and outgoing weighbridges to avoid bottlenecks.

As Australia’s leading supplier of building material and aggregates, Boral has over 100 huge quarries, mining stone, gravel and sand for a wide variety of construction projects. To put the scale of Boral’s mining output into context, during the construction of the Ichthys LNG onshore process facilities at Bladin Point near Darwin, Boral’s Northern Territory quarries supplied up to 5,000 tonnes of aggregate per day. With each of the huge mining trucks capable of carrying a payload of nearly 95 tonnes, over 50 trucks filled up at the quarries each day for this project alone.

Efficiently and quickly logging and directing each truck to the correct loading station is crucial in modern, automated mining operations. Furthermore, monitoring the weights on each truck entering and leaving a site is essential. However, the traditional system for manually processing each truck at a stand-alone weighbridge and associated office, takes considerable time and, during busy periods, creates a huge bottleneck with trucks sometimes waiting hours.

Automation and the implementation of Industry 4.0 data and analytics are already helping transform Boral’s business, speeding up processes and reducing cost. The company’s vision for the Smart Quarry is to measure its output performance in dollars per hour instead of tonnage per hour. Crucial to this goal is for Boral to simplify and speed up the throughput of trucks entering its quarries and mines and for this, they turned to technology integration company, TouchMate.

A specialist in self-service kiosks, TouchMate (headquartered in Brisbane) designs and produces its products in-house. With manufacturing facilities in both Australia and the United States and already thousands of installations across the globe, the company has the experience and skills to install and commission a fully functioning kiosk with a proven track record of reliability and innovation.

The initial brief was to build a bespoke quarry truck ‘check-in’ kiosk that was rugged enough to operate reliably in the harshest of environments, as the units would be deployed in remote quarries across Australia, which has several different climate zones. In the Northern Territories, which has a more tropical influenced climate, summers can be hot and humid, while in the southern parts winters are sometimes rainy. Whereas in the outback areas of central Australia, temperatures can reach over 50°C. Furthermore, dirt, grit and dust whipped up from the quarry by passing trucks was also a factor to consider.

Designed to be used in these extremely dusty and harsh environments, the check-in kiosks are fully sealed and IP66 rated. The internal temperatures are maintained by a ventilation system that integrates positive pressure filtration with a compact heat exchange unit. The electronic peripherals were sourced from specialist distributor JEA Technologies, of Melbourne.

“We collaborate closely with our customers to fully understand their needs from both technical and commercial perspectives, and we then recommend optimum solutions,” says George Grochowski, Managing Director, JEA Technologies. “For this project, the solution had to deliver faultless performance in the toughest of environments. After careful consideration, we recommended Zytronic’s projected capacitive touch technology.”

JEA Technologies has been partnering with Zytronic as its distributor in Australia and New Zealand for over 12 years. With numerous projects successfully completed, the two companies have developed a strong partnership. Zytronic’s business is geared around the provision of durable, reliable and customisable touch technology. Its award-winning projected capacitive technology (PCT and MPCT) offers the ultimate touch solution for challenging environments such as Boral’s quarry application.

Working closely with JEA Technologies, Zytronic designed a bespoke printed glass 19” ZyBrid touch sensor that incorporates UV and IR filters to aid thermal management of the kiosk. A 6mm thick, thermally toughened glass was selected, which ensures optimum impact and scratch resistance and protects the underlying display. In addition, the specified glass incorporated an anti-glare etched finish to reduce reflections in the bright Australian sunshine.

With its experience and flexibility regarding low-volume custom solutions, Zytronic was the natural choice for this project. After the installation and commissioning of the ruggedised kiosks, Boral has seen its quarry truck check-in times drop by 20 to 30 minutes. TouchMate Managing Director, David Ellsworth adds: “The reliable and robust nature of Zytronic’s touch sensors has once again proven their worth for our business. There are now hundreds of these quarry check-in kiosks deployed in some pretty extreme Australian conditions and, to this date, we have not seen a single field failure with the ZyBrid touchscreens.”

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