High-Altitude Precision Measurements

14 August 2023 · 4 min read

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Radian Plus Helps CITIC Successfully Complete High-Altitude Precision Measurements

API’s Laser Tracker Accurate on Ball Mill Verification in Tibet Mountains

Manufacturers need to meet their tolerances, regardless of the environment they’re measuring in. Typically, when we look at environmental impacts on laser measurement, the focus is put on temperature and moisture levels. High altitudes, however, can present their own challenges to laser measurement, as the thinner air can affect the shape of the laser. But even for Laser Trackers that have been tested at high altitudes, when CITIC needed to measure the coaxiality and horizontal height difference in a ball mill at an altitude of more than 4400m, it was an unprecedented challenge for the technology. But using API’s Radian Plus Laser Tracker, CITIC was able to:

  • Complete their measurements at high altitude without losing accuracy
  • Ensure the accuracy of the ball mill to less than .5mm
  • Perform all measurements in limited space

CITIC Heavy Industries Company Ltd (CITIC HIC) began in 1956 under the name of Luoyang Mining Machinery Plant, in Luoyang China. CITIC Heavy Industry Machinery Co., Ltd. is a state-level innovative, high-tech enterprise in China; a backbone enterprise of heavy equipment in China; and a leading research, development, and industrialization base of special robots in China. CITIC Heavy Industries has the first national key laboratory and national industrial design center in China in the field of mine heavy equipment, as well as a national safety analysis and verification center for new mine equipment materials. CITIC Heavy Industries has the world’s leading high-end heavy machinery processing and manufacturing capabilities, products involved in mining machinery, heavy equipment, special equipment, industrial robots, intelligent manufacturing and other fields, with products in use throughout the world.

Precision Measurement Tasks Under Extreme Conditions

CITIC Heavy has set up an experienced and well-equipped quality inspection team that cooperates with manufacturing and maintenance departments to conduct product testing in the factory or at the user’s site, so as to provide reliable data guarantees for the installation and debugging of their products and better serve their customers.

To support these quality inspection efforts, CITIC purchased a Radian Plus Laser Tracker from API in 2017. API’s Radian Laser Trackers are the smallest, lightest, most accurate Laser Trackers on the market. Radian Plus offers completely portable measurements with wireless, battery-powered measurements that work with the full range of API’s accessories (like vProbe, iScan, and Active Target). The Plus has worked reliably for CITIC, but this time, the Quality Inspection Department was given the task of testing a ball mill under extreme environmental conditions.

Ball mills are key equipment for grinding or blending materials after crushing. They are widely used in mining, cement mixing, and other applications. In production and operation, ball mills are inseparable from the control of their processes and installation accuracy, especially in mill operations. It is necessary to carry out regular inspections of the running condition of the mill: mainly to measure the coaxiality of the two ends of the mill bearing parts and the horizontal height difference.

The difficulties of this particular mill measurement for CITIC were:

  1. The measurement error of bearing coaxiality was less than 0.5mm;
  2. The horizontal height error of the bearing parts at both ends of the mill with a length of 8 meters was required to be less than 0.6mm.
  3. The workspace was limited, so precision measurements needed to be completed in tight quarters.
  4. The manufacturing site is located in Jiama Township, Mozhugongka, 68 kilometers from Lhasa City, Tibet Province, China, with an altitude of 4000-5407 meters.

The API Solution

“Although the measurement task is under extreme conditions,” said Mr. Zhang Linwei, Quality Department Manager for CITIC Heavy Industry, “we still need to guarantee the reliability of the measured data, and in the meantime, we need to consider efficiency and flexibility. As a result, we chose to use our Radian Plus Laser Tracker to perform these measurement tasks.”

They chose the Radian Plus because of how pleased they had been with its performance over the years. “API’s Radian Plus Laser Tracker’s accuracy is very high,” Mr. Zhang continued to say. “Its micron level of accuracy could fully meet our measurement requirements for coaxial error less than 0.5mm, and bearing level height difference less than 0.6mm; It can be mounted on a tripod or magnetically, and can work both sideways and upside down, saving space.”

But even with Plus’s proven performance, the job still wasn’t a certainty. “The customer site is at an altitude of 4415 meters, and we didn’t have any experience using precision measurement equipment on such high-altitude place,” Mr. Zhang added. “I asked experts in our company as well as friends who work in the same field. I was told there was no precedent or reference for using a Laser Tracker to work in such a high-altitude area. Using alternative measurement methods, however, would have greatly reduced our work efficiency. So, at the beginning, we weren’t sure if the tracker would be able to handle it! But, when we set up our Plus and turned on the power, we found that our concerns were completely unfounded, the tracker worked excellently, with rapid responses and accurate and stable data measurement. Our customers were constantly praising our Laser Tracker ‘high altitude, high precision!'”

Radian Plus has been performing accurate measurements for CITIC for more than three years, and it continues to exceed expectations, even in the harshest of measuring environments. To learn more about how the Radian Laser Tracker Series can handle manufacturing measurement challenges in every industry and schedule an in-person or on demand online demo, click here to speak to a Real Metrologist today.

(Interview materials of the article and pictures: Mr. Zhang Linwei, Manager of Quality Inspection Department of CITIC Heavy Industry)

CITIC Heavy Industries Co., Ltd.
CITIC Heavy Industries Co., Ltd.
Ball mill to be measured
Altitude Onsite
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