Productivity optimization software

Schauenburg uses Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to process Big Data provided by a number of sensors attached to underground vehicles to give our customers a holistic overview of the complete mine process. This ensures that the highest levels of safety and productivity is met and monitored in real time.

An Introduction to SMPO

Let us start with an analogy. Before there were smartphones (Example iPhone), there were plain button operated mobile phones (Example Nokia 3310). For this “step up” in integrated technology a mind shift change was needed for both the developers and the consumers. For most of the population it would be unthinkable now to go back to button operated mobile phone.

Digitalisation is the integration of digital technologies into everyday life. Its purpose is value creation – using technology to generate new ways of thinking.

Smartphones are the result of digitalisation of mobile phones. It is the hardware integration of a mobile phone, a GPS, a camera, a touch screen interface, an internet modem, biometric interfaces etc. paired with software applications that allows for an extraordinary amount of functionality that most of us cannot live without.

We see SMPO as the best available tool for true digitalisation of underground coal mining.

SMPO is a fully functioning, commercially available fleet management productivity optimisation system that utilizes mobile machine monitoring and smart device communication, connected to powerful software in control rooms, on desktops and on smart phones that allows for short interval control of an underground coal production sections, as well as being an enabler for longer term strategic decision making.

The vision is continued integration until the entire mine is monitored and managed through a single point, but in a modular setup allowing modules to operate independently and as an integrated unit. We aim to remove uncertainty. We want to build a digital ecosystem and through the monitoring of specific data points we can realise usage-based maintenance of assets.

There are many variables affecting the ability of production sections to operate at optimal efficiency. Their eventual impact on the output may be hidden or unknown.

In terms of section efficiency – we want the most time available for production activities; for equipment to be available and functioning optimally and we want the process of load, haul and offload to be as efficient as possible. To get to this ideal state we want:

  • Teams to start as early as possible and finish as late as possible against set start and finish targets.
  • Spares and consumables in the section to prevent unnecessary downtime.
  • Teams to be available and competent to operate and maintain machinery.
  • Teams to have the best real time information about their current setup available to them as they operate.
  • All SCs are utilized.
  • The RB to operate fast enough so that the CM is not stopped because of unsupported faces.
  • The CM to sump and shear and load optimally.
  • The correct load transfer from CM to SC in the shortest amount of time.
  • The SCs to tram the optimal route in the shortest amount of time.
  • The shortest possible offload time at the Feeder.

These are just some of the opportunity areas. The SMPO system can monitor and analyse information to the extent that the root causes of inefficiencies can be identified and corrected in the shortest amount of time.

As an example – Reducing the cycle time (CM load time, SC tram time, FB offload time) by 30 seconds can increase production output by 16%. Typical cycle times can range from 250 to 400 seconds based on setups. With SMPO the root causes of inefficiencies can be identified and corrected.

This section covers some unique selling points, as well as the advantages of each. These are advantages that Schauenburg has over competitors. Some competitors are OEM solutions, some do not rely on their own information and some do not have adequate expansion capability to truly digitalise mining.

1. SMPO is OEM independent
  • You are not tied to one OEM and their monitoring solution which forces the CM, SCs, FB and RB to be from the OEM to allow the monitoring system to work effectively. OEMs also tend to focus mainly on machine health.
  • SMPO can integrate OEM data, but for most Key Performance Areas (KPAs) this is not necessary.
2. Schauenburg has made a significant investment in SMPO in a commitment to become digitalization leaders.
  • We have made a bigger financial hardware and software development investment into UG coal productivity than anybody else. This is not just an indication of our belief in the value of the product, but also a show of commitment for continued improvement.
3. SMPO has powerful analytical and predictive software.
  • Software was developed over a continuous 2-year period by a team of 4 engineer developers, supported by industry experts and machinery experts.
  • Because we monitor several data points, we can predict the root cause of inefficiencies.
  • Mines, teams, assets, shifts etc can be configured easily and most potential configurations are already built in. As a result of this the system could be adapted for double header CM setups in less than 2 weeks.
  • If you partner with providers that do not have development capability you are at risk of introducing non sustainable solutions.
4. SMPO monitors more data points than competitors.
  • Because we monitor more productivity related data points, we can more accurately determine the root cause of inefficiencies. We can monitor electrical and diesel equipment.

As an example –

  • We monitor individual SC tram time and offload time, as well as combined figures.
  • If the individual offload time at the FB of a SC is slower, it can be an indication that there is something wrong with the SC and not the FB.
  • If all the SCs are offloading slower there is an issue at the FB. There may be spillage, or the chain speed is mismatched in relation to SC offload capability.
  • The performance of the SC can then be compared to the previous shift to either confirm the individual SC as a root cause or it could then potentially indicate that the specific SC operator is offloading slower.
  • The root cause can be addressed quickly.
5. SMPO provides a reliable and cost-effective monitoring solution.
  • Hardware provided is practical, reliable, safe, cost effective and non-intrusive. It does not change the way the section teams operate and does not affect equipment reliability.
  • Hardware can be positioned to prevent damage and it does not impede operator visibility.
6. SMPO has nearly 100% data recovery.
  • Even if your network goes down, data is stored on multiple mobile machines and will be downloaded when the network is online.
7. SMPO provides near real time information.
  • We provide a cost-effective wireless connection point to move data from machinery to the mine network. Data is collected and analyzed within seconds every time a SC offloads at the FB.
8. SMPO is locally developed, manufactured and supported.
  • Locally developed and supported hardware and software.
  • Schauenburg Systems is a sustainable business that has been operating in South Africa in the Mining Industry since 1972.
9. SMPO has significant expansion capability for UG Coal.

SMPO is a modular piece of the full digitalised mine.

  • As part of our commitment for the current system we have already developed an Advanced Roofbolter Monitoring System. A POC is underway.
  • We are expanding our Faceboss Application. Currently the smart device applications show section KPAs. This application will be expanded to include downtime booking, consumable management and inspections.
  • Additional development is possible on the Faceboss Application, which can include cutting sequence monitoring and incident management reporting.
  • Integration with SCADA and EMS is possible,
  • Solutions to track positioning and utilization of diesel equipment (LHDs, Tractors, LDVs and Busses) can be provided.
  • Digital twins of production equipment can be created in the software system. The information could be used to realize usage-based maintenance.
10. SMPO is scalable for application in opencast or plant environments.
  • The software solution has been designed to allow expansion to opencast and plant environments. This would allow entire sites to be digitalised and communicate and report centrally.

SMPO Product Development History & Live Trial

To understand the full functionality and business case in subsequent sections, we must explain some key concepts

SMPO was developed by Schauenburg Systems utilising in house R&D engineering expertise & coal production & mobile machinery specialists, as well as utilizing a professional software developer (> 40 software development engineers) to develop fit for purpose modular software.

Schauenburg Systems is the South African OEM of the hardware, with vast experience in the Mining industry, has more than 600 employees and is a Level 4 B-BBEE contributor.

Schauenburg Systems strategically utilized industry expertise by partnering with TAU5 (Mining Digitalisation and Consulting) as experts of the coal underground environment. The subject matter expert from TAU5, Quintin Coetzee has been involved in productivity optimisation initiatives and introduction of technologies to mines over the past 10 years.

Mobile machines communicate with each other through intrinsically safe RF hardware installed on mobile machines (See figure below). The devices create different zones around the machines. The machines can transfer information and keep record of its own activities. It thus becomes possible to obtain accurate combined and single machine load time, tram time and offload time information as well as machinery utilization information in a very cost-effective manner.

The more data points are monitored the more key observations can be made. Accurate data with high availability is then communicated to a wireless communication module connected to the mine data network. Information is available within seconds on surface.

Figure 1: Mobile machine interaction communication

The data can now be analysed, and information presented in value adding formats. These include: The control room management system, real time performance monitoring screens, smartphone application and underground smart devices. Some examples are shown below.

Example – Operations controller view. Has access to all monitoring and management functionality.


Example – Detailed SC analysis.


Example – Real time SC analysis. Same reports are available for RB performance.


Example – Smart device / Smartphone view.


Example – Shift performance report, showing current shift performance and performance for past shifts. These reports are configurable per section and team.


Example – SC performance report for the shift. The same is available for the RB.

The Business Case

The active use and appropriate timed correction of inefficiencies highlighted through the SMPO system will conservatively result in a 10% improvement in production output that can be managed sustainably.

For illustration purposes: If we take a mine with 5 sections conservatively producing export coal at 65,000 tons output per section per month and we improve and sustain production output by 10%, it will result in 390,000 additional output tons per annum.

If we assume a conservative sale price in Rand of R950/ton then the additional revenue is R370,5 Million. If we assume that only 40% of the extra income results in profit (base costs remaining unchanged) then the profit can be ~R148 Million.

The SMPO Annual Opex cost for this sample mine of approximately R7,9 Million only represents 2% of the additional revenue conservatively generated.

For this typical mine to recover the SMPO Opex cost, a production output increase of only 8,300 tons for the whole year across 5 sections is required. This represents 0,2% of original production output.

The expected payback period based on the conservative 10% improvement is within 1-2 months of full implementation.

Very important: Apart from the other digitalization advantages offered as a result of SMPO use, it is also very unlikely that more basic systems will yield the same output improvements. SMPO continuously re-invests into product improvements.

This means that even if SMPO only offers a 1% improvement over another system, the benefit is an additional R37 Million in revenue as a result of that advantage.

SMPO Detailed Functionality Overview

SMPO adds data points that has not been monitored before and analyses data to provide clear information in near real time views and on post shift reporting platforms. Inefficiencies can be addressed, and the result of work performed can be monitored for effectiveness of interventions.

SMPO performs the following functions. It is:

A full mobile machinery monitoring system that can monitor and report on the functions below:
  • CM-SC Load Time (Individual & Average),
  • SC Away Time,
  • SC Fill Factor,
  • SC Cycle Times,
  • SC Tramming Time (Individual & Average),
  • SC-FB Offload Time (Individual & Average),
  • RB Bolting Time,
  • Bolts installed,
  • Real First (FAU) of Equipment and
  • Real Last Active Use (LAU) of Equipment,
  • Equipment Utilization,
  • Outbye Equipment Active and Passive Tracking etc.
A digitalised control room management system and smart device applications that can:
  • Handle basic or advanced downtime bookings of production equipment, diesel equipment and conveyors etc.
  • Manage consumables and record inspection results.
  • Manage shifts and teams.
  • Manage maintenance shift work recordings.
  • Provide a record of activities, identifiable by operations controller. Policies are set up so that different user have different viewing and management rights.
  • Proactively identify root causes of inefficiencies. The system prioritizes items to address based on their impact on production output.
A configurable reporting system that can:
  • Report on productivity data, downtime data, consumables, inspections and equipment engineering and operational performance.
  • Be configured per section.
    • Targets are set up per section.
    • Reports can be configured per section to display focus area elements for that section for secondary focus areas.
  • Report on performance per shift or per time period selected.
  • Compares performance of current shifts to past shifts.


The SMPO system will assist your site to improve production output through identification of the inefficiencies that directly affect output. A very low production output increase of only 0,2% will fully fund the SMPO annual operational expenditure.

The conservative expected improvement in production is 10% on what you would have likely produced, given circumstances and conditions. Full adoption of this system is imperative to get the full value out of it.

SMPO is not comparable to more basic systems or OEM systems (see the advantages in Section 2).

We have conducted a successful POC and a successful live trial with the team at Greenside Colliery and have shown the monitoring system and software to be safe, stable and reliable.

SMPO is a proudly South African initiative that is designed, manufactured and supported locally. As a team we have invested capital and resources into the development of this system. Our vision is to provide solutions that will grow the production output of South African mines to grow the South African economy.

Our product has significant expansion capability, allowing us to provide integrated solutions for different areas in your business.