Prepare for Winter Colds
- Unless the oil is relatively new, change the lubrication oil and circulate it through the crusher. Old oil can contain contaminants and may have lost its ability to lock up water, which can lead to corrosion of both the steel journal surfaces and bronze bushings.
- Make sure that all oil reservoirs are properly sealed, and change out/clean out all reservoir breathers. Some reservoir breathers have a desiccant inside, and these should always be changed out prior to sub-freezing temperatures.
- If possible, start up the crusher and run it at no load until a return oil temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit is achieved.
- Crushers with water/oil heat exchangers will need to be drained and left open. It is often advisable to place an anti-freeze mixture in the heat exchangers. Make sure that all piping is drained or blown out with compressed air. This also goes for any dust suppression systems used with the crushing plant.
- Air/oil heat exchangers should have the outboard protective grill covered to keep air from blowing through. This will stop the windmill turning of the fan and motor and also stop wind-blown dust and sand from eroding the radiator core.
- Relax the tension on the crusher drive belts. The belts contract with cold, and the already tensioned belts could cause excessive tension to the countershaft, motor rotor shaft, and all bearings and bushings.
- Cover the crusher feed hopper to keep the chimney effect from moving dust through the crusher discharge and crushing cavity. Excessive dust-laden air flow can cause a venture effect that will pull air out of the lower sealing area and into the upper sealing area.
- Any outside junction boxes with plastic windows and any automation control features such as HMIs should be covered to reduce UV damage and wind-blown erosion (frosting).
Keep it Clean
Although it may seem like common sense, properly cleaning all the equipment and components in your plant can mean the difference between protecting your equipment and having it ready to go at spring startup in the spring and having downtime because you didn’t take the time to do proper maintenance.
Dust suppression system: For example, it’s critical to blow out the dust suppression system on your plant, says Bill Maccini, a service technician with Telsmith who also managed a plant for nearly 20 years. “Before it gets too cold, you want to clean the equipment so you can perform maintenance on it,” Maccini says. “You’ll want to wash down everything completely when you shut down so you’re not chipping frost off to clean [the equipment].”
Air cooler: You want to wash out any moisture and condensation in the equipment, particularly air coolers, Maccini says. “That way, it’s not sitting there causing corrosion in your cooler. When you start up in the spring, you want a clean sheet,” he says. “Once everything freezes, you can’t move equipment for repair. It’s much more cost effective to clean things and be prepared to do maintenance. You don’t want to have to bring a plant online while having to make several repairs that are difficult to do because the machines weren’t shut down properly.”
Electrical components: Maccini notes that working on electrical components that have not been cleaned properly is problematic. “If you have to work on electrical components, but you can’t get to them because they are buried in dirt, that’s going to affect your whole plant,” he says. “The same goes for hydraulic units. It comes down to housekeeping and preparing for both winter shutdown and spring start up.”
Gear boxes: Be sure to drain the oil when it’s still warm. “It’s easy to drop the oil out when it’s hot,” Maccini says. “You need to do it while it’s still flowing. When the oil is cool, it is thick.” Maccini also suggests resealing the gear boxes that need it prior to any winter shutdown.
Components, etc.: Disassemble any components that can be put in the shop. Replace any “time-consuming” items. Replace/change any return pulleys or head pulleys that need to be changed.
Maccini suggests that each plant operator develop a daily checklist specific to his or her operation. In putting together the checklist, Maccini says the plant superintendent needs to think about “what will cause us to go down in the middle of the day.” Tasks should be prioritized by “what will keep us from starting up in a few months.”
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