Following Prime Portable Crushing Practices Pays Off

Maintaining portable crushing equipment can be challenging for producers unless organized and well-managed programs are developed and followed.

📅   Tue May 17, 2016 - National Edition
Michelle Cwach - SPECIAL TO CEG


Maintaining portable crushing equipment can be challenging for producers unless organized and well-managed programs are developed and followed.
Maintaining portable crushing equipment can be challenging for producers unless organized and well-managed programs are developed and followed.

Maintaining portable crushing equipment can be challenging for producers unless organized and well-managed programs are developed and followed. But before a maintenance program can be structured, it is important to first understand how portable equipment is built, according to Wade Lippert, field service representative with KPI-JCI and Astec Mobile Screens.

Typically, stationary equipment is designed to be heavier, with a fixed foundation or permanent cribbing, whereas portable equipment is built lighter for road portability and is often equipped with hydraulic jacks for portable cribbing or is mounted on tracks, which requires additional maintenance points. Stationary equipment also uses platforms, such as catwalks, to provide access for greasing and maintenance of the plant. Portable equipment uses additional remote grease lines, is more compact, and typically does not provide for platform access, which can present unique challenges in accessing key areas for maintenance.

“Once producers understand how the equipment is built and where the key maintenance points are, it is simple to create a maintenance program that is precise and easy to follow,” Lippert says. “Developing a structured program ensures proper maintenance protocols are followed and accomplished.”

Lippert recommends focusing on the following three key maintenance points when developing a program:

1. Lubrication schedule: Lubrication is often the only maintenance definition offered when asked if one maintains their equipment. It is certainly an extremely important component of a maintenance program and deserves its own focus, Lippert says. A lubrication schedule should include suggested intervals, grease and oil types, along with the location and desired quantity of the lubricants. A checklist provides completion accountability. Having a checklist also provides structure so that anyone tasked with the job can easily accomplish it, although ideally everyone receives the same task training. Lippert reminds producers that it is vital to use only manufacturer-recommended lubricants.

“Using a less-than-quality lubricant could cause catastrophic failure and can result in a voided warranty,” he cautions.

2. Maintenance repair log: Daily maintenance should include lubrication, but it should also include walk-around inspections, which will serve as a time to assess risks and identify necessary adjustments due to wear. When performing a plant walk-around throughout the day, producers should look for anything out of the ordinary, such as broken or missing bolts, cracked welds, and material build-up. Nothing should be considered too small or ignored. By developing a repair log, producers can identify issues, identify what parts are needed, estimate a time to repair the issues, and determine whether the equipment is in need of immediate attention or if it can wait for scheduled downtime. Once finished, there should be a provision for a completion date.

“These items provide a proactive approach to maintenance and are helpful in identifying trends that can lead to improved procedures and better methods to operating and maintaining equipment, and hopefully preventing issues from reoccurring in the future,” Lippert says.

Three key maintenance considerations include the lubrication schedule, the repair log, and the record of wear parts.

Three key maintenance considerations include the lubrication schedule, the repair log, and the record of wear parts.

3. Identifying wear parts needs. Wear parts are an important part of crushing maintenance and can add cost to the final product. Identifying wear parts and how often they are needed is the best way to plan for wear parts replacement. This is referred to as historical data.

“Historical data can greatly benefit the producer by identifying possible ways to improve his throughput, helping him to plan for wear parts replacement downtime, and reducing expensive shipping costs associated with delivering emergency wear parts,” Lippert says.

Understanding the equipment

While paying special attention to the lubrication schedule, maintenance repair log, and wear parts replacement is a great way to develop proper maintenance practices, Lippert reminds producers that, unless they understand the equipment function and limitations, equipment failure is imminent.

“It is vital that producers become educated on each piece of equipment so they know how to properly maintain it and operate it to its fullest potential,” he says. “Producers should focus on four key points — structural, mechanical, hydraulic and electrical, and application. These points are important to creating a maintenance program that fits the needs of your equipment.”

Operators must also understand the equipment and its functions. Otherwise, Lippert says, “Equipment failure is imminent.”

Operators must also understand the equipment and its functions. Otherwise, Lippert says, “Equipment failure is imminent.”

1. Structural: Knowing what is needed for ground support and plant levelness is key to properly supporting the equipment, Lippert says. Understanding structure is vital to application throughput and equipment efficiency and should never be overlooked or underestimated. The levelness of the equipment helps keep material evenly distributed. This prevents material side loading, which creates improper bed depths that affect product throughput, as well as bearing side loading, which will shorten bearing life. A level structure also protects equipment longevity, as a properly supported frame helps prevent frame cracking that arises from energy releases from improperly supported moving components.

2. Mechanical: Understanding the mechanics means understanding how each particular component — such as the shaft, bearings, etc. — works mechanically. This helps producers understand equipment limitations as they relate to function. This also improves the safety of the equipment. Equipment operated and maintained according to its designed parameters and factory recommendation will provide optimal performance while limiting unnecessary downtime.

Operators should understand structural, mechanical, and hydraulic and electrical parameters as well as appropriate applications.

Operators should understand structural, mechanical, and hydraulic and electrical parameters as well as appropriate applications.

3. Hydraulic and electrical: These two functions are associated with equipment control and require maintenance attention of their own. These usually coincide with other housekeeping items. Filter maintenance and oil changes should be a part of any lubrication schedule, which should also include hose and wiring inspections. Simple items overlooked at this stage will halt production and are not always easy to diagnose. Understanding these control functions will make troubleshooting easier and will help provide safer equipment.

“Remember, the most unsafe piece of equipment is one that is misunderstood,” Lippert cautions. “Ignorance is dangerous. Most operations will have a specialized person tending to these functions — like an electrician, for example. However, we still advise that everyone understands the control functions, even if they are not required to work on them. Educated employees will be better suited to identify problems while still manageable and can report to their maintenance protocol before a catastrophic event happens.”

4. Application: Once the producer understands equipment function, they can then focus on the application. The first questions usually asked by the service technician are related to application. This is key to identifying the problem and is often the reason an issue exists. Proper application is also critical for optimizing output. For example, consider a typical portable crushing application. Producers should start by properly sizing feed material prior to feeding a crushing plant to ensure consistent feed and eliminate the possibility of misusing a piece of equipment. After sizing the feed, the producer needs to identify the desired output gradation. Controlling factors include closed-side-settings, crusher speeds, fines removal, and maximum feed limitations. Most portable equipment uses a closed-circuit configuration, which also needs to be considered, as producers should avoid bringing back unnecessary material to re-crush, which takes up valuable space, slows down production, and creates excessive loads on a crusher, which affects performance. This can usually be resolved by using the correct screen cloth media, which allows producers to use the entire screen, maximizing throughput.

“When we understand how the equipment is designed to operate, efficiency and production issues can often be avoided,” Lippert says. “This is key to optimizing an operation and ensuring equipment operates as it was intended.”

Investment in personnel

By regularly attending factory training and consulting factory experts, producers can make the right choices to improve their operations. Taking time to invest in education will always help producers save money and improve the efficiency of their operations by eliminating the downtime associated with uninformed choices, Lippert says.

“The investment in training always pays off,” he adds. “Training will help producers develop a simple-to-follow but precise maintenance program and will help their crew members understand the importance of a regular, consistent maintenance and prevention program.

“Remember, everything ignored at some point will require your attention,” Lippert says. “The amount of time you choose to spend on an issue is always less if handled sooner than later.”