Back in 2012, a colleague and I developed a report that outlined the systemic cost of lighting failure in mining operations. In summary, we loosely calculated the various costs to a mine across their operation continuum:
- The actual lighting fixture
- Fleet maintenance (time/ installation)
- Inventory / reorder / supply chain
- Production cost/loss (downtime)
At that time, the cost at this mine site operation (Elko, NV) for a shovel was $21,000 per hour in downtime/ production related cost, notwithstanding the additional cost elements.
As one of the first Heavy Duty LED mining light solutions on the market we believed we had a hungry market for our solution, given the expectation of LED lighting being far more efficient, durable, and with better lighting performance.
Theoretical meet reality..
Notably, LED lighting has offered significant advantages for mining and many other dark, damaging and austere operating environments. But there should be some clarity around the realities of LED's performance and durability characteristics with that of the actual operational environment of a mine site. For example, dirtier mining operations ie. coal, bitumen, tar and oil type substances will put far more stress on any fixture, LED or otherwise. The fixtures lifespan will be relative to the condition upon which the fixture is operating under, and the standard 50,000 hour expected lifetime doesn't often compute in this situation.
From experience, we service a very large mine site that operates in mining bitumen and crude oil, and our remedy to try and prolong the lifespan of the fixture was a quick brush wash of the fixtures on operator rotation. The reality is, their operating schedule was so tight (like a Nascar pit crew) that more money would be lost in the time to 'clean' the fixture from downtime, than replacing the fixture entirely from the heavy oil coating building up on the fixture. Albeit, lighting manufacturers like to tote the standard benefits of LED lighting vs. traditional halogen and metal halide fixtures, and on paper there are significant benefits of using LED. However, a more experienced perspective helps contribute to the overall success of a good lighting design in Mining and other related punishing environments and applications.
If you are interested in learning more about our lighting design process please contact us.