Oil analysis specialists WearCheck’s on-site sampling has received a vote of confidence from the Mpumalanga Mining fraternity since the service’s introduction a year ago, with several large mines signing up.
Trained WearCheck technicians travel to the mines to take samples from mining machinery on site.
Customers have the option of either basing WearCheck personnel on their site, or WearCheck can provide daily sampling services to mines where the workload does not require a full- time mine employee to do the actual sampling.
During an intensive three month training course, the specialised sample technicians pass an obligatory “induction”, which qualifies them for sample collection, both underground and on machines that are brought to the surface for routine maintenance.
Once samples are taken, they are delivered directly to the nearest WearCheck laboratory for testing, analysis and diagnosis, and where necessary, clients are then alerted to potential machine component concerns.
Neil Robinson, managing director of WearCheck, believes that investing in this service saves mines time and money.
‘Historically, companies who invest in our oil analysis service have reported a return-on-investment ratio of approximately 1:10, with massive financial savings through the early detection of component wear, which in turn avoids costly, unscheduled downtime.’
‘By using our resources to do the sampling, it removes responsibility from the site engineer and his team, thus enabling our clients to remain focused on their core business, which is mining,” he said.
‘Another benefit is the increased consistency it brings to the sampling process by reducing the inevitable variables that occur when there are multiple “sample takers”, and this can assist in optimising the accuracy and validity of the analysis.
WearCheck’s Chis Hattingh, who provides operations/technical support for the on-site service in the region, takes up the story:
‘On one of our coal mine contracts, we invested in a specially-modified vehicle that complies with mining regulations. This vehicle is certified to navigate underground in a coal mine, collecting samples as per the mine maintenance schedule. Without the vehicle, the sample technician would be required to walk up to 8 kms to collect the samples.
‘Our technicians take samples from any mining machinery with oil-wetted components, including CMs (continuous miners), shuttle cars, roof bolters, feeder breakers, crushers, conveyor gearboxes, LHDs (load haul dumpers), tractors and stone dusters.
‘We are currently servicing several large mines, including BHP Billiton’s Khutala Mine and Samancor’s underground chrome mines. These include the Doornbosch, Lannex and Tweefontein sites.’
In addition to their mining focus, WearCheck provides on-site sampling service to a wide variety of industries, including oil refineries, sugar mills, aluminium mills, factories, process plants, paper mills and the petrochemical industry.
A new dimension to WearCheck’s traditional oil analysis service brings relief for customers with troublesome components, through the introduction of a mobile troubleshooting service.
Until recently, customers sent oil samples to WearCheck for analysis and diagnosis. A normal result meant operations continued uninterrupted.
However, reports indicating abnormal symptoms meant customers had to investigate and fix the source of the problem, which caused difficulties for operations without the necessary resources to conduct the repairs.
Now, a specially-trained WearCheck technician with a diagnostic toolkit can be called on-site to investigate, identify and evaluate problems.
Technical support consultant for WearCheck, Herman Geldenhuys, who developed the troubleshooting toolkit, explains, ‘Typical customer reactions to problematic reports were: “What do we do? How do we do it? We don't have the skills - the tools - the knowledge - we need help!” The mobile troubleshooting clinic evolved in response to these calls for help.
‘Our on-site diagnostic equipment identifies symptoms such as blow-by, low oil pressure, coolant leaks, crank shaft float, exhaust pressures and abnormal operating temperatures. An evaluation report then equips the customer’s technicians to isolate and rectify the faults.’
Geldenhuys believes the new service has additional benefits. ‘Prior to purchasing pre-owned equipment, WearCheck’s mobile troubleshooter can test, evaluate and verify the quality of the unit.
‘Furthermore, the troubleshooting service can determine the necessity (or not) of conducting costly periodic machine overhauls or re-builds.
Says Geldenhuys, ‘Sometimes, customers do not gain the true potential savings of an effective oil analysis program due to skills or equipment shortage. The new mobile troubleshooting service aims to address this, and take traditional diagnostic oil analysis to the next level by extending condition monitoring to incorporate an on-site repair dimension.’
For more information, please visit www.wearcheck.co.za, or call WearCheck on (011) 392-6322 or Herman Geldenhuys on 083 628-9404.