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Reverse Engineering and 3D Scanning in the Mining Industry | Trevilla Engineering

Reverse Engineering and 3D Scanning in the Mining Industry

Something commonly acknowledged in the mining industry is that high-tonnage, ultra-mechanised operations will produce the minerals of the future. New mechanical systems are being developed for this purpose. 

Improvements in automation and robotics are transforming the mining industry. Specifically, automation is making mining safer and more efficient. 

The mining industry is a pillar of the national economy. In fact, Australia is one of the world’s major coal exporters. Over the last decade alone, the economic contribution from the mining sector was in the hundreds of billions of Australian dollars.

With the mining industry evolving, sophisticated technologies must be adopted. And Mechanical Engineers are working on it.

Mining Engineering

Mining engineering has made almost every part of our daily lives possible. Even our computer parts are made of materials that have been mined. 

With the help of machinery and modern technology, mining engineers locate valuable mineral reserves. They discover techniques to extract them securely. They are vital in transporting and purifying raw resources that are essential to production.

Below are some examples of technology uses in mining, including surface and underground mining.

Aerial Inspection Drone for Mining

Drones are used in the mining sector for a variety of purposes. Drone technology is utilised for many things, such as surveying, mapping, and ensuring safety, among other things. Collecting accurate data using drones is quick and cost-effective.

3D Aerial Drones photograph structures, towers, and stockpiles. With these it is possible to generate real-time 3D interactive CAD models.

Drone mining surveying allows a specialist to collect precise airborne data. Mining engineers then take advantage of these. This will enable them to improve production, planning, safety, and inventory management.

This technology employs UAVs outfitted with cameras to capture images from various angles. The data is processed using photogrammetry software. This allows for the creation of 3D maps, digital terrain models, etc.

Some popular aerial drone applications are:

  •         Surveying and Mapping
  •         Stockpile
  •         Mining Exploration
  •         3D Point Cloud

Longwall System

Longwall systems are a practical, safe and quick way to mine coal from underground. Using this method, coal blocks are removed in a single continuous process. An automatic cutting head travels parallel to the coal face. While the coal is being sheared off the face, the working area is sheltered.

Each specific coal block (panel) is generated by driving a succession of tunnels. While the coal is being cut, the longwall face is supported by hydraulically driven roof supports.

The underground system comprises complex mechanical systems: gearboxes, conveyors, shearers, and drive systems. 

Mechanical Engineering for Mining Equipment

Mines and mechanical equipment are supervised by mechanical engineers who also oversee the replacement and repair of mechanical equipment and components. This includes the procurement, installation, removal, and maintenance of them. 

The mining business is increasingly reliant on technology. Mechanical engineering firms now use cutting-edge technologies to satisfy the demands of the mining sector when designing systems and equipment. 

Maintenance is also an important consideration. Mining equipment maintenance and repair are critical for efficient and safe operations. Over the years, significant progress has been achieved in maintaining technical equipment. However, it remains challenging because of complexity, expense, and safety issues.

Nonetheless, Mechanical Engineers aim to reduce downtime and speed-related losses through methods, such as 3D Scanning, CAD design, and FEM software. Risk management, of course, also plays a significant role in this.

CAD Design in Mining Industry

Mining equipment includes complicated machines that operate in severe environments. The complexity of machinery necessitates the use of digital tools. Longwall systems incorporates the design of the shearer, maingate, tailgate, AFC (articulating face conveyor), beam stage loader, crusher, mini pans, roof supports and bootend.

CAD design makes it easier to create optimal mining equipment. These programs are used not only in new arrangements by mechanical design companies. They also utilise it for repair and upkeep. CAD design may also be used in reverse engineering. Models generated by 3D scanning services may be rebuilt using CAD design.

Nowadays, concepts such as digital twins help to optimise the entire process. With these 3D models built, FEM analysis may be performed to test components digitally.

Reverse Engineering in Mining Industry

One of the ways reverse engineering is employed is repair and maintenance. Mining systems work under challenging conditions. Often downtime in a mine is very costly. Thus, short repair times are essential.

Reverse engineering can be used to create sub-parts of the machines. They can also be used to improve existing systems. Or sometimes drawings belonging to a part might not exist. This time the recreation of it needs reverse engineering techniques.

3D Scanner Services

For a wide range of applications, laser scanning systems shine. They can calculate the spatial coordinates of any spatial object. This covers constructions, buildings, and machine parts. The speed, accuracy, intricacy, and safety of these 3D scanners are unrivalled. The scanned object can be represented as a cloud of points using CAD software.

In the mining business, 3D scanners are helpful in two ways. They can be employed in geotechnology in one manner or another. This pertains to surveying the actual state of tunnels and infrastructure. Of course, this involves evaluating the contour of the lining and other underground building components. This technology is also beginning to take hold in quarries for topographic mapping and monitoring. 

Reverse engineering using 3D scanners also plays a significant role in mining equipment maintenance. Because these are heavy-duty machines, maintaining them is hard. Portable 3D scanning allows engineers to practice design strategies for improving and maintaining equipment more quickly and efficiently.

Inspections on parts are more accessible and quicker, for example with the measurement of curved surfaces. Measuring such dimensional features was a challenge with conventional ways.


Today technology offers many industrial solutions for mining. From products being designed in virtual environments before they are constructed to non-destructive test (contact probe and 3D laser) methods making preventative maintenance easier, technologies are delivering huge benefits.

Aerial inspection drones can be used in creating a digital representation of a mining site. 3D Scanners can create a 3D Model of a physical component that needs repair. Reverse engineering methods can improve equipment such as longwall systems.

Employing such solutions might require trained technicians or the help of specialised Mechanical Engineers.