Keep on Crushing
By E. Bradford Pugh
Downtime is dead time. If machines aren’t running, then you’re not making money. Anything you can do to make sure this does not happen to you and your operation is essential to your maintenance plan. Working to establish a quality plan of attack prior to needing it will decrease your costs and increase your output.
maintenance is the single most important concern that operators in the rock crushing business must deal with. It is vital to not only the life of the machine and its life expectancy, but to financial implications of the business. Having a strong working knowledge of the crusher’s parameters is vital to its success, and having a strong maintenance program detailed on the how and when to perform cleaning and maintenance will give the crusher its maximum lifespan.
All crushers have limitations. The capacity, the size of the feed, and the closed-side setting (either maximum or minimum) are just some of those limitations. You need to take into consideration the types of material being crushed and any environmental issues that could affect the crusher’s limits at any given moment. Anytime a crusher is forced to go beyond its design parameters, it can easily stress parts of the machine. When a stress like this happens, the lifespan of the machine is jeopardized and will lead to future repairs and failures. These future repairs are not only costly and increase down time and output, but could also result in permanent damage to the machine.
Doing a proper root cause analysis (RCA) on the crusher’s problems will be essential and will help determine future repairs and failures. If there is a reoccurring problem, or an operator-induced problem, identifying these can be very cost effective. An RCA not only helps in curbing the current problem, but also in forecasting the potential of an incident. Thus, preventive or other measures can be implemented well before there is a problem with the crusher. There are many different techniques and tools for conducting an analysis such as researching data, testing the operator’s skills and knowledge, and inspecting the machine and end product on a daily basis, as well as analyzing the machine placements, the environment, and the maintenance schedule. Many manufacturers would agree that most of the problems that occur with crusher maintenance could be prevented by on-site employees who are properly trained. This training should occur either one on one or in a group session and at a variety of levels, including a manufacturer-sponsored training event. Employee training should be current and recorded so the employees are credited for their new skill set. Employee training should be done on an ongoing basis so it stays fresh and current.
Rock crushers have, essentially, three types of maintenance needs: preventive maintenance (PRE or precautionary), predictive maintenance (anticipating), and reactive maintenance (responsive). Familiarize yourself with the maintenance needs of your rock crusher and make a plan for those needs. These maintenance plans may or may not come directly from the machine manufacturer.
Preventive maintenance is found in the manufacturer’s maintenance manual and should be the rule in all cases. Visually inspect all wear components such as wear liners, as well as any and all consumables. When you do not change the liners in the crusher and they become less efficient, you will be losing money because of poor or out-of-spec product. Another key problem might be that oversized or out-of-spec material is allowed to re-circulate in the closed circuit, which then increases the load on the crusher. Just remember the maintenance manual from the manufacturer should be your guide for the life of your crusher.
Predictive maintenance is the type of maintenance done while the unit is operating. Many different types of predictive tools can be used to do this type of maintenance. These include lubricating oil thermometers, lube oil pressure gauges, lubricating oil filter condition indicator devices, lube oil analysis, crusher drive motor ammeter, and daily operator crusher log sheets. By using these tools, you can determine the normal operating specs of the crusher, and this will show when things are not running properly and allow for corrective action to occur.
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