A hoist controller is a device used to operate a hoist or lifting system within a mine. These lifts travel through sloped or vertical shafts, which connect underground mining areas to the surface of the earth. A hoist controller is used to control a hoist or elevator within the shaft to carry people, iron ore, or waste products. The precise control and operation of these lifting devices is critical to protecting the lives of mining personnel. A hoist controller can also help to maximize productivity and efficiency during mining operations.
In modern mining, the hoist controller is designed to function with a hydraulic or electric hoisting system. This controller is generally operated by a hoist control operator, who remains near this equipment to handle both routine and emergency operations. He communicates with workers in the mine and at ground level to determine when to lift and lower a hoist or elevator. The hoist control operator may have access to cameras or sensors that enable him to keep track of activities around the lift. This operator not only controls the stopping and starting motions of the lift, but may also have control over speed and braking.
Depending on the type of hoist controller system, the hoisting process may be almost entirely automated. Even in automated systems, a human operator may still be responsible for overseeing the process. With an automated hoist controller, sensors provide hoisting data to a central software or computer system. The software not only helps human operators analyze hoisting and mining conditions, but also provides automated operation using a series of sensors. This software adjusts or stops the hoisting process based on potential dangers or changes in site conditions.
One of the primary functions of the hoist controller is to provide a series of built-in safety features within the hoisting system. These safety features help to reduce accidents, which can protect lives and minimize injury risk to workers. To maintain the highest level of safety, the hoist controller relies on a series of relays built into the hoisting mechanism. If one of these relays is interrupted or senses trouble, it de-engerizes power to the hoisting lines, and also engages the braking system. This causes the hoist to stop working until it can be inspected and repaired.
In a standard hoist controller system, many different types of catalysts can engage the safety system and de-energize the hoist. One of the main catalysts is the emergency stop button, which serves as a way for workers to manually stop the hoist during an emergency. The hoist controller may also stop hoisting operations if the hoist travels past its programmed stopping points, or moves at excessive speeds. Many hoist controllers are also programmed to halt operation during a power outage, a brake failure or any equipment malfunction.