This article is featured on Mining Monthly 07/20 digital issue. Link here
The working conditions of the mining industry creates a tough environment. Whether applied under or over ground, the nature of the habitat presents a perfect storm that attacks the most fragile elements of all mining equipment – hydraulic and cylinder seals.
Multiple stresses affect these out-of-sight components, meaning paying due consideration to the most advanced sealing options is a vital aspect of asset choice, maintenance and planning.
The solution? Seal materials and geometries that effectively withstand such continual, harsh pressures, along with the ability to carry out necessary repairs in-situ to extend the periods between maintenance downtime.
Seal Failure: The challenge
Seals fail for many reasons. When it comes to mining, the resulting effect is never minor. Unplanned downtime has both direct and indirect consequences, including:
- Downtime of assets while repair takes place
- Reduced operational performance
- Excessive hydraulic oil consumption
- Environmental impacts (in the case of fluid leaks and ground contamination) and resulting hazards
- Additional costs: Including the clean-up of any contamination from fluid loss, administration (reporting to environmental agencies, documentation) and the necessary extra labour to do this.
- Fines for any breach of environment laws (in the case of fluid leaks)
- Damage/destruction of metal components in cases where seal degradation isn’t apparent before catastrophic failure, leading to higher maintenance costs and extended downtime periods.
The latter is by far the most significant when it comes to affecting your bottom line. The major causes of cylinder seal failure in mobile mining are:
- Pressure spikes
- Shock load
- Extreme temperature exposure
- Fluid compatibility and/or viscosity
- Side loading
- Operating speed
- Environmental issues
- Excessive clearances
In reality, the majority of seal failures occur though an accumulation of some or all of the above.
Seal Failure: The solution
Applying a systemic approach is necessary to fully tailor a solution that combats premature or unexpected seal failure. This is best addressed by a combination of advanced materials and custom design.
Unique thermoset urethanes and proprietary polymer technology provide the ultimate resolution to the rigours that continually affect hydraulic seals. Offering the highest level of abrasion and cut resistance, such material is wholly designed to withstand the harshest of elements. This results in extended hours of operation between scheduled maintenance and greatly increased reliability.
Unique custom design
Adaptability is vital, and the need for multiple seal profiles specifically designed for mining use is essential. Mobile mining equipment needs a mobile solution with consummate longevity. This is best achieved by having a selection of seal designs to suit all cylinder options.
- Wiper seals: to effectively reduce contaminants entering the closed cylinder system
- Rod seals: that combat low-pressure leakage
- Buffer seals: to reduce negative consequences of pressure spikes
- Precision bearing band: minimise metal-on-metal contact
- Piston seals: the ultimate in bi-direction sealing systems
- Trash ring: acts as a first line of defence against fluid contaminants
Cutting-edge technology has led to the creation of seals that truly withstand the pressures that today’s mining equipment is under. This includes higher bucket payloads than ever, reduced space and weight of cylinders and tank capacity, as well as the working 24/7 in the harshest of environments.
The nature of mining also calls for on-site solutions, something mobile kits for custom and turnkey repairs can effectively service. The ability to carry out such maintenance in the field means assets can remain in use for longer, extending the working hours between scheduled downtime for service and repair.
Chesterton Polymer Seals: A local solution to a global problem
Mining is tough in any environment. But this is never more relevant than in Australia’s harsh climate. The reliability and longevity of cylinder seals plays a critical role in asset management, as does taking advantage of the very latest technological solutions.
Global supplier, Chesterton, sets the benchmark for the ultimate in seal production. Their world-leading expertise is now available within Australia, offering industry-proven hydraulic sealing solutions, including off-the-shelf and custom-made mobile mining kits that meet your critical demands each and every time.
Contact us to find out more