Sept/Oct 2007

P&H adds AC drives to shovel line

By H. Ednie

P&H pilot shovel in action at Suncor

A new shovel from P&H Mining Equipment is proving its mettle at Suncor’s oil sands operations this summer. The 100-ton payload 4100 BOSS oil sands shovel has been outfitted with an AC drive, and so far it’s been up to the challenge of moving material more quickly than other shovels in the region to help Suncor meet its rising production targets, said Tom Barnes, manager, OE products, P&H Mining Equipment.

“At P&H we’ve traditionally offered DC drive technology, and will continue to do so on our electric shovel line,” said Barnes. “We’ve often been asked ‘when’ P&H might move forward on AC drives, as it’s been the general trend for fixed power applications. But we’re cautious. We’ve never been willing to jeopardize the reliability of our equipment.”

Over the past few years, as computer technology has advanced, P&H continually found ways to obtain more performance out of their DC drives, and didn’t see a need to switch to AC. However, upon requests from customers and with growing evidence that AC drive technology had arrived at a point where its reliability and performance matched P&H requirements, they decided it was time to move forward with an AC drive.

The P&H AC drive development project began in 2004, and the pilot unit was shipped to Suncor last November to be up and running and used in production by March this year, which was achieved. Overall, Barnes said, “We’re very pleased, and the shovel is doing very well - the AC drives are extremely responsive and reliable, and the motors, designed and built by P&H, are performing equally well.”

“There was one minor issue in the motor design, but we detected it early, found the root cause, and made the correction.” Barnes recalled. “But the availability and productivity goals set for the pilot shovel have been exceeded - we have a real winner here.”

P&H worked with Suncor on the shovel design, primarily for decisions related to maintainability. Suncor was regularly at the table throughout the development process and provided valuable input.

With one currently in operation, two more have been sold, and P&H is working on plans to extend AC drives to other models.

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