Laboratory automation solutions that sustain world-class phosphate processing
Automation technology that optimises your phosphate production
Phosphorus is vital to the production of the world’s food. It serves as an essential aspect of fertilisers, ensuring the security of the globe’s agricultural sector. However, with the availability of the world’s primary source of phosphorus becoming gradually more uncertain, maximising the value of the phosphate produced is critical to the success of future phosphate production.
Phosphate ores show a wide diversity in the composition of their gangue materials. A wide variety of techniques and equipment is used to mine and process phosphate rocks in order to beneficiate low-grade ores and remove impurities.
There are a number of chemical factors to consider when producing phosphate feedstock:
- Phosphorous content
- Fluorine, carbonate and free carbonates in apatite
- The content iron, aluminium, manganese, inert gangue mineral, sodium, potassium, organic matter, chlorides, heavy metals, radionuclides and toxic elements
- Other minerals, such as magnetite and ilmenite, which can be recovered for economic benefit.
With all these factors in mind, consistency and accuracy when gathering physical and chemical analytical data are crucial to producing high-quality product. Therefore, we provide a variety of automated solutions, designed to assist you in efficiently controlling the production process.
Automating your process allows for improved turnaround times, the reduction of human error, and the effective completion of all tasks, regardless of ore type or quality. This leads to reduced variables, eliminated bias, increased mine-life, and greater reliability of supply. The higher rates of accuracy also reduce unexplained material losses, benefiting laboratory managers and the overall production process.
Laboratory automation will help your business thrive, as you’ll be able to produce more reliable product, and at a faster rate, as a result of the ability to more accurately determine process efficiency and recovery rates. Also, health and safety concerns will be minimised, cultivating a healthier environment for your workers.
Functions that can be automated include:
- XRD technology for quantification of minerals
- Filter/dryers for slurry samples
- Microwave ovens to dry filter cake
- Cake-breaker technology to prevent spluttering when filter cake is dried
- Particle size analyser
- XRF spectrometer to determine P₂O₅, TiO₂, Fe₂O₃, CaO, SiO₂ and other required elements
- Bar-code reading
- Milling and pulverising functions
- Pelletising functions, for pressing milled powder into steel rings for XRF analysis
- Compiling composite samples
- Transport of samples by conveyor belt
- Placing samples into machines and removing them when a process has been completed
- Monitoring technology for automated data gathering
Our automated solutions assure your facility better phosphate production success, making us your preferred choice when you decide to optimise your phosphate processing quality chain.
Benefits that optimise your phosphate processing
Our automation solutions offer many benefits, including better productivity, affordability, and quality.
Better productivity and consistency
Automated processes require little-to-no human intervention, meaning that they can run for more extended periods compared to manual-operated laboratories. This allows your laboratory to produce a higher capacity of sample data per day. Also, the equipment can provide more consistent results, since human error, distraction, and a lack of proper training no longer have a significant impact.
Reduced operational costs
You can reduce costs in certain areas of your operation due to laboratory automation as a result of minimised onsite manpower. This particularly affects remote laboratories, where the cost of maintaining and retaining staff can be considerably high.
Quicker turnaround times
In automated laboratories, equipment can run on a 24/7 schedule. Also, because our automated equipment has self-regulatory functions installed, technical breakdowns are minimised.
Enhanced process and quality control
Automated laboratories process each sample identically, promising greater accuracy than any manual laboratory can provide. This leads to increased productivity, quality and reduced sample turn-around times.
Real-life examples of automation success
We have a passion for delivering innovative solutions that meet the needs of our customers. Through working with you and understanding your requirements, we aim to produce technology and innovative solutions that provides you with the most efficient process available.
- ANOF Laboratory, Russia
The technology is capable of automatically receiving slurry and filtering samples, allowing for the removal of most of the moisture content. The remaining moisture is driven off via microwave drying, and then samples are sent for particle size analysis and on to the second phase of sample preparation.
Samples can also be milled and automatically pressed into steel rings for XRF analysis. The process only requires a single person to observe from a nearby control room, making the facility highly advanced and efficient.
- Foskor Mine Phosphate Rock in Phalaborwa, South Africa
This fully automated laboratory was supplied to Foskor Mine in Phalaborwa, South Africa. This facility is designed to function 24/7 with minimal human supervision.
The laboratory allows for samples to be automatically taken from up to 12 slurry streams, where they are filtered and dried for analysis. In a robot circle, samples are automatically presented to a particle size analyser and then pressed into steel rings for XRF analysis. A WinCC-based SCADA system controls the laboratory process and interfaces to the plant/process control system for closed-loop control.
Besides the robotic laboratory, Foskor also ordered four large-capacity mills for the preparation of online samples for XRD analysis. As Foskor is the first to pioneer this technology, we are excited to work alongside them and cultivate this technology for future use.