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Stay Safe and Competitive: Maximise Your Stationary
Equipment Performance with Advanced Technology Lubrication
Component lubrication is an important part of the effective, efficient and economical welfare of plant and equipment. Mohamed Mourad, Industrial Marketing Advisor for Europe, Africa and the Middle East for ExxonMobil Fuels & Lubricants, discusses the increasing important of the ‘golden liquid’ in a mining environment.
The overall productivity and profitability of a mine site is directly linked to the reliability of equipment and as a result, it is vital that mining operators have equipment that functions at maximum efficiency. In the extreme conditions and rough terrain typical of mining sites, machine failure is a common problem, with the associated expense of equipment downtime impacting on operator profitability. For every day that unscheduled downtime occurs, operators stand to lose substantial production and profit.
Stationary equipment such as impact crushers, processing plants and conveyor belts play a key role at mining sites. Conveyor belts transporting raw materials such as coal or rocks outside of the facility or to processing areas and then onto the crushers and other plants which reduces the materials to finer gradations.
High performance lubricants can play a crucial role in ensuring the consistent protection and performance of stationary mining equipment to ensure that financial losses do not occur. However, with constant exposure to dust, extreme temperature and heavy loads, lubrication of these expensive systems can often present a unique challenge.
The good news is that advancements in lubricant technology, especially when it comes to fully-synthetic based products, has seen significant breakthroughs in regards to extending equipment life, oil drain intervals and improving the energy efficiency of equipment. As well as helping to improve productivity these advanced, high performances lubricants can also help to deliver associated safety benefits. During any maintenance process there is an increase of risk to engineers, as well as the risk of leakage, so the longer the equipment can run for, the better all round.
ADVANCED HIGH PERFORMANCE SYNTHETIC OILS
An example of a synthetic lubricant that can help to increase productivity without compromising equipment protection or reliability is Mobil SHC Gear, a high performance heavy duty gear oil. These oils are formulated to deliver a number of performance advantages versus conventional gear oil chemistries. For example, the range’s high oxidation resistance enables extended oil life of up to six times compared to standard mineral gear and bearing lubricants (when compared with conventional reference oils of the same viscosity grade in gear applications) helping to reduce scheduled and unscheduled maintenance. As well as providing superior protection in challenging environments, in statistically validated laboratory tests and field trials, Mobil SHC Gear fluids exhibited energy savings of up to 3.6% compared with conventional oils, demonstrating the savings that can be made when investing in an advanced, high performance lubricant.
SAFELY EXTENDING OIL DRAIN INTERVALS
One example of a mine site that has benefited from using high performance lubricants is a company based in Peru. The company had been operating a Metso 32x34 Gold SAG Mill using a standard mineral oil, with oil drain intervals set at one year. With the objective of increasing productivity and reducing the total cost of ownership, the company managers approached ExxonMobil to determine a lubricant solution that would enable oil drain intervals to be extended safely beyond the one year mark. Following a full analysis, ExxonMobil engineers recommended that the company transition from a conventional mineral oil to a fully synthetic lubricant, Mobil SHC 630 bearing oil. Complemented by ExxonMobil maintenance practices and routine oil analysis, Mobil SHC 630 enabled the mining company to extend oil drain intervals for the mill from one year to three, without any identified concerns. Maintenance personnel were so impressed by the performance of the lubricant that they are now considering extending drain intervals to five years. By tripling oil drain intervals, the company has reduced oil consumption, decreased labour costs, increased plant availability and conserved energy resources, generating an estimated of $1,112,000 over the last three years.
In addition to mills, conveyor belts play an integral role at mine sites, with their year round availability and reliability having a critical impact on an operator’s ability to meet production goals. The recent implementation of gear box oil Mobil SHC 632 at a South American coal mining operation has seen significant improvements in the productivity of its 20-mile long conveyor belt system and drag lines.
On the recommendation of an ExxonMobil field engineer, the coal mining operation installed Mobil SHC 632 into approximately 120 of its main gearboxes. Since the installation, the company has extended oil drain intervals by more than 500% when compared to its previous mineral oil based lubricant, resulting in cost savings of approximately $200,000.
PROACTIVE MAINTENANCE STRATEGIES
In addition to using high quality synthetic lubricants to help maximise the productivity of machinery and reduce costs, it is recommended that operators also incorporate an oil and equipment condition monitoring program. The oil analysis should include a measurement fluid viscosity, waste content, particle count and dissolved metals to determine how well the system is operating. Examining changes in the oil analysis data over time – known as trending – is necessary to assess the condition of the oil. By trending oil analysis data, it is possible to proactively address most undesirable conditions before they become a problem.
For equipment maintenance professionals who want an effective oil analysis monitoring programme, there is ExxonMobil’s proprietary online Signum oil analysis programme. Signum oil analysis offers engineers immediate access and direct control of their lubricant sampling programme. With a few keystrokes, users can manage their oil analysis needs enabling them to:
• Update equipment registrations and select analysis options based on their equipment or maintenance needs
• Track the status of samples at the lab
• Direct actions based on analysis results and trends
• Share critical results with colleagues in a secure, password protected environment.
UNEARTHING PRODUCTIVITY AND PROFITABILITY
Technological innovation is driving the development of next generation synthetic lubricants which can offer significant performance enhancements for mining operators, including improved efficiency, reliability and optimised equipment availability. By combining the use of high quality synthetic oils with an effective oil and equipment analysis programme, mining operators can look to benefit from a quantifiable competitive advantage.