Preventive Maintenance for Peak Productivity

As the saying goes, a watched pot never boils. Rather than idling by the stove, gathering the meal’s ingredients first can yield a bubbling pot upon your return, enhancing efficiency.

While the idea of leaving things alone applies to many activities beyond cooking, it is not an effective approach to the screening process within mineral processing environments. Undetected issues with vibrating screens can allow out-of-spec material to pass through in addition to causing further damage over time. Plus, any downtime for repairs can lead to production losses.

It’s not viable for operators to monitor vibrating screens all the time. Fortunately, using a condition monitoring system takes this task off their hands, ensuring screens stay healthy without constant attention.


Proactive performance over reactionary repairs
Any mineral production plant faces the challenges of maintaining the uptime of its equipment while reducing the cost of corrective maintenance. The information that condition monitoring systems provide can therefore be an invaluable asset to quarry and mine managers. However, not all systems are made equally.

Most of the available options on the market are reactive and unable to prevent unscheduled shutdowns and costly reduction in output. This is typically because these systems send only very specific information and often in a format that is difficult for operators to understand.

Condition monitoring systems that stand out from the pack are those that use modern algorithms and artificial intelligence to monitor the health of the vibrating screens on site. These condition monitoring systems use their advanced technology to forecast the equipment’s dynamic condition as well as predict necessary maintenance and provide critical downtime alerts. They can identify common types of failures such as lubrication faults, contamination and bearing damage as well as loose or broken structural parts of the vibrating screen body. Over time, a condition monitoring system should be getting “smarter” by using its artificial intelligence to improve the accuracy of the alerts it sends.

Understandably, purchasing any monitoring system can seem like an additional cost on top of other operational expenses. However, it is important to note that a well-chosen condition monitoring system almost eliminates unscheduled downtimes, significantly reduces corrective maintenance hours and consequently increases equipment performance. Typically, most operations encounter an average of one significant issue each month, with a total of 10-12 per year. In some cases, just one critical alert effectively pays for an entire three years of a condition monitoring system. And when you consider that certain condition monitoring systems prevent critical failure for just 22 dollars per day, it’s hard to refute that the investment is worth the reward.


Diagraming the diagnostics
While monitoring systems for vibrating screen bearings are common in the market, more advanced options offer 24/7 equipment condition monitoring through permanently installed sensors on both the bearings and the body of the vibrating screens. Although the sensor configurations are customisable, the typical setup involves four body sensors placed on each corner of the vibrating screen with the addition of two bearing sensors. For larger screens, eight body sensors and six bearing sensors are used. In just one day, it is possible to install sensors on multiple machines in case of a plant stoppage. Since receptors do not require the screen to be stopped, they can be installed any time. Condition monitoring can be installed at any point on the equipment, but the sooner the better is the optional time for quick dividends from the service.

Once installed, condition monitoring quickly gets to work scanning the vibrating screen for deviations that may lead to damage or loss of production. From there, artificial intelligence is used to predict the dynamic conditions of the equipment. For many operations, maintenance time is optimised by noting probable causes of potential failure of the equipment such as loss of stiffness or uneven spreading of material feed on the screen media. Last but not least, customer focus is central to high-quality condition monitoring by providing easily interpreted information every five minutes.

Not only can information be provided continuously, but it can be accessed online and remotely. While these systems are compatible with any Wi-Fi network, integrating data via cable or Application Programming Interface is a good backup in case of any outages. Other benefits of high-tier condition monitoring systems include quality hardware such as industry-leading sensors as well as a long battery life of more than two years, which is noteworthy given the daily use of vibrating screens.

Condition monitoring is most effective for 24/7 operations as well as those who process high-priced materials, work in aggressive or hazardous environments or only have a small maintenance team. Partnering with an OEM-certified technician is a cost-effective first step toward identifying whether such a system is the best fit for your operations.

All-inclusive inspection
Countless companies have thrown their hat in the ring with a condition monitoring system to gain the business of producers. Some of these companies specialise only in technology with no direct aggregate or mining connections. Others are original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that serve the industries but have limited coverage or service capabilities after initial installation. Those who rise above are manufacturers with the complete package — the equipment and extensive industry knowledge, an experienced team that offers insight and service to customers and a condition monitoring system with the features those customers need to stay competitive.

Part of the value of condition monitoring systems lies in the service that producers receive from the OEM. Even the best systems require a human element when questions arise, training is required or upon new installation. Considering the history and experience level of a manufacturer when selecting a condition monitoring system will undoubtedly save time and prevent future headaches. Start by looking at whether the company has dedicated experience in the mining and aggregates industries. Then, determine how long they have been involved in the industry, what their customer service commitment is like and their territory coverage. A global company that has an expansive service team is much more likely to be able to send someone for a consult, to troubleshoot or to install sensors on a new screen you got than a regional company without that depth of personnel.

Having a deep bench and industry expertise is half of the equation, but the technology and condition monitoring system itself plays a vital role as well. The best manufacturer will not just sell you the system but will partner with you to offer a comprehensive evaluation experience for your production plant. In these cases, an in-depth, eight-point inspection can be provided that thoroughly assesses the efficiency of your operation.

Diagnostics are often the first step, which can involve impact tests, vibration analysis and condition monitoring. Impact tests ensure that each machine is properly calibrated to avoid operating in resonance, which can diminish productivity, incur damage to vibrating screens and pose safety risks. Vibration analysis examines the real-time health of vibrating screens by detecting irregularities. Condition monitoring elevates these results by not just identifying and fixing current issues, but emergent ones. The remaining steps of the inspection can involve using the manufacturer’s expertise in processing equipment, engineered screen media, original parts, rebuilds and upgrades, services, plants and process engineering to inspect customers’ screening processes in order to recommend best practices for processing proficiency.

Reputable manufacturers will ensure that all information to install the condition monitoring system is available before the components are shipped so that the customer’s personnel can install the system themselves. However, it is always good to consider the presence of an OEM technician to help during that process, not only for troubleshooting reasons but also to register personnel and make certain they all have proper access to and training on the system so they know where to find necessary information.

Don’t let production problems boil over
While a pot on the stove does require an occasional glance, mineral processing equipment needs more immediate attention. Smaller issues like wears or damage to the vibrating screen that are not caught quickly can lead to bigger production headaches — and losses — later on. This is why monitoring systems in line with the latest industry advancements in smart technology are vital for the health of any efficient operation. Finding the right system and manufacturer to partner with can provide the strongest ROI and ensures keeping up with — or beating out — the competition.

About the Author
Thiago Henrique Buoso is a project and sales engineer for Haver & Boecker Niagara’s Diagnostics and Aftermarket Department. He has more than 15 years of industry experience.

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