Mines have tended to cut capital expenditure as a result of depressed commodity prices, which means that the working life of equipment, like screens, is being extended. At the same time, however, the necessary maintenance is often also cut back, creating serious risk of failure and unscheduled downtime.
“A vibrating screen is one of the smaller and less costly items in a plant, but it is a critical element that can bring a whole module, or even the entire plant, to a standstill if it fails unexpectedly,” says Kwatani CEO, Kim Schoepflin.
“At Kwatani, we typically start our intervention with an on-site audit to assess the situation in a plant, beginning with a look at the mechanical state of the vibrating equipment in its operational and non-operational state.”
A visual inspection allows any damage to the steel section or wear to be identified. The next question is whether the equipment is performing to expectation in terms of recoveries, tonnages and efficiencies.
“We also ask whether there have been any changes in the upstream process,” says Kim. “This is to check whether the feed that the vibrating machine is receiving is still in line with the original specification of the unit; ore bodies often change, which can affect the material and the processing requirements. We need to establish whether the equipment is actually still fit for the purpose for which it was designed.”
This leads to a list of issues that must be addressed, which in turn must be prioritised; starting with any vibrating machine that is close to destruction as costly downtime due to sudden failure must be decisively avoided. Refurbishment of the equipment by the OEM is usually significantly more cost effective, compared with a new replacement, when it is performed timeously.
“On the basis of this assessment and the resulting priority areas, we then agree on an action plan with the mine that takes into account their human and financial resources,” she says.
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