Tag Archives: equipment maintenance

Henkel LOCTITE 270 shores up jaw crusher operation in Australia

Henkel’s LOCTITE® 270 adhesive thread locking has come to the rescue of a mining operation in Australia that was facing a potential collapse of the jaw crusher equipment frame.

According to Henkel, the failure of a threaded assembly through self-loosening not only risks lost production but also worker safety. This was the case at the Australia mine site.

The M36 anchor bolts in question had been locked by spring washers that could not rise to the challenge of securing bolts on a piece of equipment subject to continuous vibration and high shear forces, according to Henkel. This resulted in the loosening – and, ultimately, breaking off – of anchor bolts and the collapse of concrete footings.

Spring washers, also known as lock or helical spring washers, are one of the most popular mechanical devices for securing threaded fasteners against self-loosening, Henkel says. The washer is squashed flat when the nut is tightened against the mounting surface so that its sharp edges dig in to prevent the threaded fastener unwinding.

In practice, a spring washer may delay the length of time it takes for the bolt to loosen, but it will not permanently prevent it, according to Henkel. “The main reason is that the split washer does not solve the gapping issue, the free space remaining between the threads of the nut and the bolt,” it said.

On a typical threaded assembly there is just 15% efficient metal-to-metal contact between the threads. Everything else is empty space that enables plenty of side-to-side movement for the bolt. Additionally, being metal itself, a spring washer can cause damage to contact faces and corrode in place.

For the Australia mining operation, this problem was exacerbated by the size of the bolts. The bigger the bolts, the bigger the gap between threads, which leads to more vibrational impact on the assembly. This realisation resulted in the company changing to adhesive thread locking with LOCTITE 270, according to Henkel.

This is a high strength formulation that fills all gaps between the thread and prevents any movement of the bolt within the nut, according to Henkel.

“Secured this way, the assembly is completely vibration-proof but can still be easily dismantled with hand tools for repair and maintenance,” it said. “Additionally, the liquid thread locker seals the threads against humidity and dust, preventing corrosion and surface erosion.”

This simple adjustment to working practice has not only underpinned productivity but contributed to a safer working environment at the operation, Henkel says.

One 50 ml bottle of liquid thread locker is sufficient to secure around 850 M10 bolts but, unlike spring washers, can be used on any bolt size, according to the company.

Mader Group to maintain heavy equipment fleet at Nevada Gold Mines

Mader Group says it has entered into a contract with Nevada Gold Mines for the provision of heavy equipment maintenance.

The ASX-listed contractor will be responsible for providing skilled labour for mechanical and electrical maintenance, machining, scheduling and planning to Nevada Gold Mines, a joint venture between Barrick Gold and Newmont, to ensure the upkeep of heavy mobile equipment operating standards.

The three-year contract will see Mader Group deliver maintenance labour services across Nevada Gold Mines’ eight mine sites, associated infrastructure and processing facilities (all located in Nevada).

Mader Chief Executive, Patrick Conway, commended the team’s track record and growing capability since launching operations in the US.

“This is just one of several key contracts ensuring our continued expansion in the region,” Conway said. “It gives us great pleasure to support Nevada Gold Mines in what is likely to be a fruitful and long-lasting relationship. Forecasting 2.1-2.25 Moz of gold production in 2020, Nevada Gold Mines is expected to account for approximately 30% of total US gold production with optimal fleet performance a critical component in achieving their targets. We look forward to providing a top tier and dependable maintenance service to back their success.”

Microsoft mixed reality tech keeps BHP’s Pilbara sites on track

BHP, through the deployment of mixed reality Microsoft HoloLens technology, has managed to keep equipment inspected, serviced and maintained at its iron ore operations in the Pilbara of Western Australia in the face of COVID-19.

Workplace restrictions designed to keep people safe from COVID-19 mean that BHP hasn’t been able to fly people to and from its mine sites as freely as it did in the past.

To get around this issue, it has equipped people like Andrew ‘Woody’ Wood, a Mechanical Fitter with 30 years’ experience under his belt, with HoloLens 2 – a head mounted computer with a see-through display. This has allowed employees like Woody to coach his peers at site, anytime, from anywhere using Microsoft Dynamics 365 Remote Assist.

Woody is instantly able to see what mechanical fitters at site can see, send them helpful documentation, videos and schematics on the fly, and even use digital ink and arrows to annotate real things in the physical world in order to help them complete tasks and inspections on remote sites, Microsoft says.

For Alex Bertram, Digital Products Manager at BHP, the rollout of the technology was accelerated by BHP’s ability to innovate during the COVID-19 pandemic, with strong support from its partnership with Microsoft.

Safety, speed and smarts

“Using mixed reality in its day-to-day operations is one of a series of innovations that BHP is undertaking to keep its people safe and its productivity up,” Microsoft says.

Dash Maintainer Tools, developed by BHP’s maintenance and innovation teams, allow front line personnel to securely collect data from machinery remotely, avoiding the potential risks associated with manually checking dials or taking readings from heavy mobile equipment such as trucks, excavators, drills and dozers.

Leveraging IoT sensors and industrial computers connected to Azure the Dash solution gets data into the hands of maintenance technicians on their smartphone or tablet, the company says.

“Productivity and safety go hand in hand and are guiding lights for BHP and its innovation efforts,” Microsoft explains. “This focus enabled the team to have the first version of Dash in the field on a 400 t excavator within 16 weeks of it being an idea on a white board.”

To keep its people, families and communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, BHP introduced many rigorous measures and controls to reduce the risk of transmission.

This has included limiting numbers at its mine sites to only those required to enable safe operations; anyone who can work from home has done so.

At first, it meant that Bertram couldn’t get his team to the South Flank iron ore development to keep developing the Dash tool at the same velocity. Nor could many other experts who would typically be flown to a mine to set up new equipment, solve a problem or conduct an inspection.

Even so; “Our people on the front line are empowered to try new things to safely get on with the job”, Bertram says.

“During COVID-19, I expected the pace of innovation to slow, but we’ve seen the opposite. People really rally together and are open to trying new things to safely get the job done.”

He had already witnessed the potential of HoloLens and mixed reality, and was convinced that in combination with Dynamics 365 Remote Assist it would allow expertise to be delivered virtually to the teams still working at BHP’s Pilbara operations to support continued development of the Dash Maintainer Tools, Microsoft says.

“Given many of us were working from home due to COVID-19, the first device was delivered to my house to test and by the following week, we’d undertaken trials in our workshop environment in Perth,” Bertram says.

The team were able to test the system on real machinery at BHP’s Innovation Centre Lab, located at the Perth Repair Centre, which provides a safe and controlled environment to trial new technologies and ways of working on mining equipment.

“The following week, we ran a dry run and test at the mine, and five or six days later we supported the installation of the first prototype of Dash Maintainer Tools on a 300 t haul truck,” Bertram said. “A process like that would normally take a few months at least.”

It took less than four weeks from the HoloLens2 arriving at Bertram’s Perth home to it being used to install the first prototype of Dash tool on a Komatsu dump truck in the heart of the Pilbara, according to Microsoft.

The deployment of mixed reality technology has the potential to be rolled out more widely, and deliver safety and productivity benefits long after COVID-19 abates, Microsoft says. And there is further scope in making the physical delivery of equipment to sites more efficient.

“This technology can help us reduce the time and cost associated with regular travel, increase the speed of maintenance and new equipment deployment without compromising safety, and support greater inclusion and diversity,” Bertram said.

Having proven the HoloLens2 solution’s potential, BHP is now running further trials across its rail workshops and maintenance teams in Perth and the Pilbara, and at several other global locations in Australia, the US and Chile, according to Microsoft.

“We are seeing promising early results,” Bertram said. “If those trials are successful, we will look at how we can scale up. We are not getting ahead of ourselves, but we are well placed because the HoloLens2 solution speaks to our existing systems such as security controls, and device management.”

Martin Engineering conveys speciality contractor message

Using a specialty contractor for installation and ongoing maintenance of conveyor belts contributes to safer and more efficient production – with less unscheduled downtime – and, in the long run, saves money and reduces injuries, according to Martin Engineering.

“Performance problems with conveyor components and systems can frequently be traced to improper installation or insufficient maintenance,” the bulk material handling innovator says. “It is recommended that the component manufacturer or expert contractor install equipment on both new and retrofit applications.”

Serious performance problems stem from a lack of proper maintenance, which is exacerbated by several factors.

Training and retention

The time and resources required to train employees on equipment and certify them to conduct certain procedures such as confined space entry, electrical work, etc can be a significant ongoing expense, Martin Engineering says.

As workers become more experienced and gain certifications to properly maintain efficient systems, their value in the marketplace rises. This leads to retention becoming an issue.

“In contrast, specialty contractors must be experienced, knowledgeable and certified to conduct the appointed maintenance, and it’s up to the contracted company to retain and train that staff,” the company says.

Maintenance danger zones

Due to a greater emphasis on safety and the expensive consequences of unscheduled downtime, bulk handlers are being more meticulous about conveyor operation and maintenance, according to Martin Engineering.

This increased scrutiny includes regular cleaning of spillage, improved dust control, and additional monitoring and maintenance, which expose employees to a moving system more often. These changes introduce a variety of hazards.

Conveyor danger zones where work injuries are likely to occur include:

  • Loading zone;
  • Discharge zone;
  • Mechanical/electrical equipment;
  • Rotating pinch/shear points;
  • Underneath the conveyor; and
  • Unguarded reach-in points.
Danger zones exist along the entire length of the belt, many at maintenance points

“Most common conveyor-related issues are found across a wide range of industries, and personnel who work around the equipment on a daily basis often become complacent about the conditions, viewing issues as an unavoidable outcome of production rather than abnormalities in need of resolution,” the company says.

“An experienced maintenance contractor recognises these problems and may present solutions that internal resources have overlooked. The improvements are designed to reduce employee exposure, improve workplace safety and maximise productivity.”

Service contract types

Maintenance programs differ by provider and may be customisable to suit individual customers, but they generally fall into three categories: inspection/report, cleaning/servicing and full service.

A scheduled inspection and report contract results in a specialty contractor coming to site to thoroughly examine a system – from belt health to equipment function to the surrounding environment – and identify potential issues. A report is produced that presents findings and offers solutions.

The cleaning and servicing contracts are perhaps the most common, Martin Engineering says.

From spillage and silo cleaning to monitoring and changing belt cleaner blades, services can be very specific and fill gaps where maintenance crews might be overstretched. “The first advantage to this is that a conveyor can be surveyed without requiring the attention of plant personnel, freeing them to go about their usual tasks,” the company says. “A second advantage is that the outside surveyor is an expert in proper conveyor practices and current governmental regulations.”

At the highest level, a full service and maintenance contract sends trained technicians who take accountability for monitoring, maintaining and reporting on every level of system function. They replace wear components when needed and propose required upgrades to maximise efficiency, safety and uptime.

“This provides operators with cost certainty, making it easier to project and manage the cost of operation,” the company says.

Return on investment (ROI)

Increasing speeds and volumes on older conveyor systems designed for lower production levels contribute to workplace injuries and increased downtime. Capital investments in newer semi- or fully-automated systems designed for higher throughput require less labour, but the maintenance staff needs to be highly trained by specialised technicians.

Maintenance service contracts deliver the best ROI, according to Martin Engineering, through a series of factors:

  • Compliance – the contractor points out compliance issues and offers solutions prior to expensive fines and violations;
  • Injuries/liability – contractors rely on a strict set of safety procedures to conduct maintenance, reducing liability;
  • Efficiency – maintenance service contracts focus on improving and sustaining uptime with the least capital investment possible;
  • Consistency – contractors have a clear directive and are not affected by internal factors (labour disputes, morale, etc); and
  • Cost of operation – with a defined scope of work on a set budget, along with clear reporting and recommendations on pending needs, operators can better forecast improvements and control labour costs, further improving ROI over time.

Maintenance service contracts are not just a way of controlling and potentially reducing the cost of operation, they are also a safety mechanism.

For example, one case study showed a 79% reduction in lost time incidents and a 40% improvement in production using specialty services, which demonstrated payback in days from an annual specialty maintenance contract.

“Workloads may preclude staff from maintaining proper compliance or they just might not notice some violations,” the company says. “Outside resources take ownership of the plant’s efficient and productive use of the conveyor system and strive to improve conveyor efficiency, maximise equipment life and safety to add value to the operation.”

At the core of the issue is lower operating costs and improved production. The work should match or improve efficiency regarding downtime and throughput. If the criteria of compliance, cost savings and efficiency are met, then the maintenance service contract has provided a tenable ongoing solution, Martin Engineering concluded.

Metso strengthens equipment, processes, technology and people connections

Now more than ever remote assistance is needed to keep the lights on at many mining operations across the globe.

The onset of COVID-19-related restrictions has focused the industry’s attention on just how far it can and should automate operations and – nearer term – how it can keep downtime to a minimum at its processing plants.

Metso has been investing in the development of new technologies and digital solutions to aid this cause for decades.

Think of how VisioRock™ and VisioFroth™, combined with Advanced Process Control OCS-4D™, have helped operators monitor rock sizes and flotation efficiency, and optimise production overall, from control rooms far away from where the action is happening. More of its products – such as the recently launched VPX™ filter for tailings dewatering and the Foresight™ smart mining crushing and screening stations – can also be connected to various devices to help monitor equipment.

This wide portfolio of technologies to collect, analyse, and act on data from minerals processing plants was recently combined under its Metso Foresight digital portfolio, which consists of cloud-based IoT and on-premise solutions that collect and analyse machine and process data.

The move has consolidated tools such as the Metso Metrics core remote conditioning monitoring solution and the recently acquired capabilities of HighService Service – which has been providing maintenance and remote monitoring for gearless mill drives for over 20 years – into one integrated solution that mining companies can tap into.

Johanna Newcomb, Vice President, Performance Solutions at Metso, says these recent organic and inorganic investments reflect the company “doubling down” on its digital focus.

“In 2018, we launched Metso Metrics and, in 2019, the acquisition of HighService Service added remote maintenance services to our offering,” she told IM as part of a recent IM Insight Interview.

This year, the company launched its Metso Performance Center solution to keep up this rapid digital momentum.

These centres, currently in Santiago, Chile, and Changsha, China, have been established at just the right time, helping mining companies troubleshoot and carry out maintenance tasks remotely when bringing experts to site may not be possible.

Newcomb explained the rationale for their introduction: “Remote monitoring and analytics, combined with on-site assistance as needed, provides a new, proactive way for Metso to support our customers; to reduce variability of their processes, to optimise the processes and to maximise the use of their assets.”

The creation of the centres has been geared towards leveraging the vast expertise and experience within Metso of equipment, minerals processing and carrying out servicing on a global basis, according to Newcomb.

“The Metso Performance Centers are a new way of funnelling that expertise and data-driven analytics for the benefit of our customers globally,” she said.

While improving process stability, asset reliability and process efficiency and sustaining the improvement over the long term are the key aims of these centres, this type of remote service support could see the philosophy of on-site maintenance teams shift tremendously.

Instead of carrying out ‘firefighting’ tasks, they can focus on proactive elements that optimise the processing plant over the long term, according to Newcomb.

Metso has been able to facilitate such a shift using many of its digital solutions that reside at customer sites such as advanced process control systems, Visio and Audio systems, ore tracking platforms, and others.

But, how do these service centres make the most of these digital solutions?

Soledad Barbera, Head of Metso Performance Centres, explained: “The services are available globally and provided by a multi-disciplinary team of experts. There are two centres in operation, one in Santiago, Chile, currently supporting all time zones, and one in Changsha, China, which services the Chinese market area.”

In the ‘first line of defence’ at these centres, specialised engineers monitor connected equipment and processes. This sees them scrutinising analytics, interpreting data, and delivering insights and recommendations for actions. Customers – and potentially an on-site team of Metso technicians – receive this information.

Barbera says Metso is in the process of expanding the first line of monitoring in different market areas, increasing the network of monitoring engineers and adding market area satellite locations. “This will provide an interface to get closer to our customers and speak to them in their own language as much as possible,” she told IM in the IM Insight Interview.

In the centre’s ‘second line of defence’ – incorporating more complex problems – expert advisors with broader operational experience and knowledge of the customer’s applications will be drafted in to solve issues.

The ‘third line of defence’ will see the company’s global network of experts mobilise to help support long-term solutions development. This includes reliability engineers and product experts.

Proactive performance

These remote services help Metso ensure desired performance is reached in deliveries and that this performance is sustained or improved further through a long-term service offering, according to Newcomb.

“By closely connecting the remote services with our existing offering, we are able to mobilise required assistance, changes, parts, etc faster, and elevate the level of proactiveness in our deliveries and services overall,” she said.

This has had a tangible impact on operations at the processing plants connected to these centres, according to Barbera.

“With remote diagnostics now offered through the Metso Performance Center, we have helped customers reduce unplanned downtime by 30%,” she said, referencing an example from the company’s gearless mill drive monitoring division (acquired with HighService Service). “We have also helped cut in half the on-site time needed to resolve failures through this remote monitoring service.”

Metso ensures all customer data is protected throughout the exchange, according to Newcomb.

“We have secure, modular connectivity options and fully respect the privacy of our customers’ data,” she said.

This broad offering has already attracted many customers to the centres, with Barbera saying around 100 pieces of equipment and solutions are currently being serviced through the remote facilities. “They are critical assets for our customers,” Barbera explained.

Expect this number to increase in the very near term, with Metso looking to further broaden the centre’s offering.

“We are expanding the analytics and digital solutions for different types of equipment and services,” Barbera said.

This expansion is very timely.

“The world has changed, and we are living a new way of doing business,” Barbera said. “Many customers want us to support them remotely and continue to be able to give them advice and recommendations.

“With the help of remote services and the latest technologies, Metso is still able to offer expert support to our customers, without a delay.”

This interview is an extract of an IM Insight Interview that will be published later this month

Martin Engineering brings automation to conveyor belt maintenance game

Martin Engineering has announced a belt cleaner position indicator that monitors the blade, tracking and reporting remaining service life in conveyor and bulk material handling applications.

The Martin N2® Position Indicator (PI) monitors primary belt cleaner blades, notifying Martin Engineering service technicians and plant operations personnel when re-tensioning or replacement is required and/or when abnormal conditions occur.

The PI can be part of a new installation or directly retrofitted to existing mainframes that use the company’s replacement blades, the company said, with managers and service technicians able to quickly access information on any networked cleaner via cell phone.

“With approximately 1,000 operating systems currently in service and installations continuing daily, the technology has been embraced by bulk material handlers in a wide range of industries and applications,” Martin Engineering said.

The N2 Position Indicator was designed in-house by the engineering team at Martin’s Center for Innovation, and the firm also engineered and built the proprietary equipment used to manufacture the new devices.

Martin offers the equipment, monitoring service and batteries free of charge to qualifying customers, it said. “The company will also support the PI components and provide customer alerts without cost as needed, with mainframes and tensioners replaced free for users of Martin belt cleaner blades,” the company added.

Martin Engineering Global Marketing Director, Brad Pronschinske, said: “There are no annual maintenance fees, and no add-on charges for cell phone access. Most customers using our cleaner blades can take advantage of this technology.”

Position indicators can be mounted anywhere from 3-800 m from the cellular gateway and the robust, sealed construction means it is virtually immune from damage, according to Martin Engineering. Up to 50 units can be monitored by a single gateway connecting to the Internet, usually located at the highest point in the plant, where the cell signal is strongest. The system does not require a cellular line for each PI, instead communicating via radio frequency from each sensor to the gateway.

Operating independently of any plant communications infrastructure, the small physical size and low power requirements deliver a projected battery life of two years, according to Martin Engineering, with the self-contained model developed by Martin Engineering in order to minimise the dependency on in-plant resources. Only the gateway requires a constant 110 V power point, it said.

The company explained: “The device eliminates the need for manual inspections by giving technicians precise information, delivering critical real-time intelligence and reducing exposure to moving conveyors, improving both efficiency and safety. Maintenance planning is simplified by having detailed information available on demand, allowing service personnel to deliver and install replacement wear parts during scheduled outages.”

Alerts are also provided automatically when a blade change is required; re-tensioning is needed; a cleaner has been backed off the belt; there is an abnormal condition; a substantial change in temperature occurs; and batteries need replacement.

The PI is just one component of the company’s push to develop new and evolving technologies to improve bulk material handling and reduce the associated hazards, Martin Engineering said. It is within the same product family as Martin’s automatic tensioning system to continuously maintain optimum blade pressure without any operator intervention.

“This capability is a true enabler, bringing a number of benefits,” Pronschinske said. “Belt cleaner inspection time is basically eliminated as maintenance personnel no longer need to physically view the cleaner to determine the tension or wear status. It also reduces the time workers need to spend near the moving conveyor, helping to minimise the potential for accidents.”

Pronschinske described the innovation as a game-changer in the industry, with a positive impact on productivity, operating costs and safety. “Relying on actual operating conditions instead of human judgement to monitor blade wear and tension for optimal cleaning performance, the indicator maximises the blade’s usable surface area and reports with certainty when a blade is nearing the end of its useful life,” the company said. “Delivering instant, continuous feedback while eliminating guesswork – tracking the individual performance and status of each cleaner – the detailed history also provides a maintenance log with service dates and work performed.”

The result is an improved return on belt cleaner investments, according to Martin Engineering.

Replacement parts can be scheduled for just-in-time delivery, and installation can occur during planned downtime instead of emergency stoppages.

Pronschinske said: “By monitoring the rotation of the belt cleaner mainframe, the N2 PI helps managers plan tensioner adjustments and blade replacements during scheduled outages.”

Manufactured from a proprietary grade of polyurethane resistant to bumps, shocks and knocks, the PI device is extremely robust, according to Martin Engineering. It can handle a typical mining environment, the company says, and the device can be installed inside or outside the transfer chute. It has also been designed to operate in challenging ambient environments found at operator sites, such as handling wet and sticky materials.

“The system recognises how much rotation is acceptable before tensioner adjustment is required,” Pronschinske explained. “It allows our service technicians to know exactly when a belt cleaner needs replacement, even before the customer does. And, if excessive movement is detected on any cleaner, an alarm notice will automatically be sent to alert operators to check it immediately.”

The software tracks and displays blade status, remaining life, next scheduled tensioning, run time, wear rate, cleaner model, blade type and several other details, the company says.

Outotec to provide proactive condition monitoring system for grinding mills

Outotec is looking to maximise grinding mill availability with a new modular system that provides all control functions required for the safe operation of equipment, and its associated lubrication systems, as well as continuous condition monitoring.

The Outotec Mill Control System allows for advanced condition monitoring strategies, including remote expert support, to ensure maximum mill availability, the company says.

It proactively detects anomalies using diagnostic data from IO-Link instruments to determine instrument health and detect installation problems before they cause downtime, according to the company.

Remote connectivity hardware is included as standard, enabling connection to Outotec’s Connected Services for remote diagnostics and support. Plant owners can also take advantage of Outotec’s cloud-based Asset Analytics service to gain valuable insights over the condition and performance of their assets, the company says.

“The system uses standard hardware and software components that are common across Outotec product lines for improved availability of support resources and spare parts and meets all relevant EU safety directives and other key international safety standards,” Outotec said.

IO-Link technology, an international standard according to IEC 61131-9, enables digitalisation and smart instruments by allowing for extended diagnosis of sensors and actuators, and the use of IO-Link instruments contributes to time and cost savings as the single interface means fewer input/output spares are required, according to the company.

In addition to increased mill availability, Outotec says it Mill Control System significantly reduces the commissioning time and cost associated with implementing similar systems, provides a shorter engineering lead time and superior installation quality thanks to “simplified wiring and termination design” as well as standardised software and hardware modules; comes with reduced project risks as the complete solution is delivered under one contract; and ensures compliance and reduced risk with state-of-the-art safety-rated hardware.

Air Springs Supply provides silent solution for vibrating machinery issues

A broken coil spring isolator or actuator in conveyors, vibrating screens, crushers, tanks and bin hoppers can bring processes to a complete halt, sending in maintenance staff to undertake the heavy and hazardous task of disassembling and returning to service vital machinery used in industries such as bulk material handling and mineral processing.

Actuation and isolation specialists, Air Springs Supply Pty Ltd, provides silent rubber solutions to such issues with complementary products engineered by Firestone Industrial to overcome both breakage and noise issues endemic to vibrating machinery, it says.

This includes solid no-maintenance Marsh Mellow™ rubber and fabric-reinforced bias ply isolators, which offer high load capacity with constant vibration isolation through changing loads, according to Air Springs Supply. Marsh Mellows will not bottom out like coil springs and offer low natural frequencies to provide excellent isolation (including forced frequencies in the range of 800-1,200 cycles a minute at 13-20 Hz), the company said.

Ruggedly engineered bellows-type air springs Airstroke® pneumatic actuators, which are friction-free for immediate response, and complementary Airmount® pneumatic actuators, which do not require periodic maintenance or lubrication, provide another solution. They are available in sizes ranging from 58-940 mm in diameter and 445 kN force capacity, meaning they can be used for delicate tasks and conveyors, through to heavy shakers, screens and crushers, the company said.

Air Springs Supply said: “Before Marsh Mellows were developed to solve problems with metal springs – including breakdown, replacement and noise – solid rubber springs were either physically too large or became unstable laterally when they were made long enough to provide good isolation.

“The concept of ‘stacking’ rubber springs answered the latter problem but introduced the need for complicated mechanical guide systems to control the lateral movement.”

The Marsh Mellow fabric-and-rubber spring solved this problem and provided a new way to make use of the many advantages of rubber as an isolator, Air Springs Supply Sales and Marketing Manager, James Maslin, said.

“The basic construction of the Marsh Mellow spring includes a solid rubber core with a hollow centre and fabric-reinforced body,” he said. “The controllable variables of this construction are the keys to the extreme design flexibility that the Marsh Mellow spring offers. And the same springs can eliminate potential problems of broken coil springs causing fragment damage to vibrating, stamping and metal forming equipment.”

Marsh Mellow Die Springs can be compressed by up to 40% of their free height at a cycling rate of 50 cycles/min or less, the company said. Cycling rates of up to 300 cycles/min can also be attained.

“Marsh Mellow Springs’ high load capability means fewer springs may be needed in an application, resulting in less overall cost,” the company said. “A spring with a smaller overall size than an all-rubber spring of identical load capacity can be chosen, which is an important factor where space is restricted.”

Airstroke pneumatic actuators and complementary Airmount Isolators provide a further alternative to metal springs, the company says. In effect, these are heavy-duty balloons that both contain no internal moving parts to break or wear. The resulting lack of internal friction and inherent rapid cycling capability makes them very suitable for actuation tasks such as conveying equipment and vibrating machinery, the company said.

“They are also outstanding isolators, in which role Airmounts reliably achieve isolation efficiencies often well exceeding 99%,” Air Springs Supply said. “Their outstanding performance suits them to applications such as suspending vibrating screens or motors and compressors commonly found throughout industrial plants, where they are generally used where weights exceed 100 kg per mounting point.”

A common materials handling isolation application is isolation of bin vibration. This type of vibration is typically used to maintain a homogeneous mix or flow of material inside a hopper where it must be isolated from bin supports to prevent structural fatigue.

Steel springs can be used, but they must be tuned to one specific load and a single height. Air springs provide a high degree of isolation compared with other methods, where they are used down to disturbing frequencies of 3-4 Hz, according to the company. Isolator inflation can be changed to compensate for different loads or heights without compromising isolation efficiency.

Airstrokes and Airmounts offer 40-40,000 kg of pushing or lifting power and strokes (extensions) of up to 350 mm, powered by simple, basic compressor equipment found in nearly every factory, Air Springs Supply said.

Metso reviewing Vereeniging operations in South Africa

Metso says it is initiating consultations to evaluate the potential closure or other alternatives for its operations in Vereeniging, South Africa.

The Vereeniging unit provides pumps, spare parts, consumables, and repair services for the mining industry and has around 200 employees, the company says.

The move is part of the global supply footprint development strategy in its Minerals operations. Similar reviews across regions in Metso’s Minerals Consumables business area have led to the closure of the rubber and poly-met wear parts manufacturing facility in Ersmark, Sweden, and a discontinuation of the Isithebe foundry in South Africa.

Sami Takaluoma, President, Minerals Consumables business area at Metso, said: “Our strategy is to utilise synergies of the most efficient manufacturing and sourcing opportunities globally. We are continuously developing our supply footprint to deliver the best value, availability and quality for our customers.”

WesTrac gets flexible with used, refurbished and as-new parts division

Caterpillar dealer WesTrac is spinning out its FlexiParts™ & Mining Services business to focus on sourcing and selling cost-effective parts, components and attachment solutions from its global network.

The new division will provide clients with access to a broad range of used, refurbished and as-new parts, it said.

A new website at www.flexiparts.com.au with an extensive online inventory is supporting the business online.

“The newly-branded business has operated as a division within WesTrac for some time and is now being established as a separate entity focused on sourcing and selling cost-effective parts, components and attachment solutions from their global network,” WesTrac said.

FlexiParts & Mining Services also allows customers to sell unwanted machinery and parts and will purchase and dismantle machines to ensure there is a large range and diverse inventory on hand, the company said. As well as Cat parts and equipment, the business sources and sells a broad range from other OEM brands. Exchange and outright purchasing options are also available for non-powertrain products, it added.

Travis Cargill, WesTrac General Manager Mining & FlexiParts, said the service was being ramped up in response to customer demand for more flexible solutions, differentiated price points and faster delivery times, which are not always possible when waiting for new parts and components.

“The major advantage of FlexiParts & Mining Services is that it provides customers with cost-effective options, sourced specifically for their needs, from anywhere in the world,” Cargill said.

“That often reduces wait times that can occur when purchasing new parts and provides customers with significant savings.

“It’s also important to note that while the business is evolving into a standalone entity, it will continue to maintain its close ties with other divisions within WesTrac and retain in-depth familiarity of customer sites and requirements.”

Another major benefit provided to FlexiParts & Mining Services customers is the provision of transport frames, specifically designed to allow safe transportation of a broad range of items, the company said.

Danielle Bull, WesTrac General Manager Product Support, said WesTrac has a duty of care under the Chain of Responsibility legislation to ensure safe transportation of bulky items, which is a key concern for customers.

“We’ve put a lot of emphasis on ensuring we can provide fit-for-purpose transport frames for a large range of parts, so customers know they not only have access to well-priced parts, but delivery to site will be a seamless process.”