The mining industry is a very critical economic gear whose dependence on quality and reliable equipment is the mainstay of many mining operations across the African continent. Of particular interest are heavy-duty starters and alternators fitted to HD [heavy duty] vehicles operating in these harsh mining conditions. The quality of these seemingly mundane parts could be the difference between success and failure, given that mines are some of the harshest conditions to operate heavy machinery. Vulnerable to extreme conditions – fine dust, excessive heat, high humidity, constant running times, overloading, and over cranking, mining companies should never compromise on quality and always use Original Equipment Supplier (OES) starters and alternators that have a proven track record of handling such rough conditions. Without their reliability vehicles, machinery and other heavy mining equipment will not be able to function.
Mining operations worth their salt should only use OES quality alternators and starters, says Ray Sheldrake, Managing Director at Shelhurst Components, the master importer of Prestolite-Leece Neville heavy-duty alternators and starters in the Southern African region. “OES quality units specified for particular applications far outlast cheap copies that find their way onto mines. Copies are not manufactured to the strict standards of OES units and, therefore, fail prematurely causing consequential damage and downtime,” he notes. Sheldrake acknowledges that, in these tough economic times, it’s easy for mine managers to be drawn to budget parts when they need failed units replaced. “While we don’t fault vehicle operators for purchasing cheaper copies, we strongly recommend against it. We always prescribe that our clients specify OEM and OES starters and alternators, not just because we supply them but from extensive experience, the case for a lowered total cost of ownership is outweighed when you consider the value you get from utilising OEM or OES quality Prestolite alternators and starters,” states Sheldrake.
Premature Failure of Mining Machinery is the Thief of Time
The importance of the right starter or alternator for a certain piece of heavy machinery in the mining industry cannot be stressed enough, shares Jesse Subbiah, Sales Manager at Shelhurst Components. He elaborates: “In our experience, alternators are largely underspecified in their application which causes overloading of batteries and subsequent premature failure of battery and, often, the alternator. The correct alternator must be fitted to match the ‘DC power budget’ of the mining machine or vehicle and for the condition in which the alternator will operate.” Subbiah adds that starters must also be specified correctly with the appropriate kW rating. Very often copy starters look the same as the OES units but don’t deliver the correct torque or speed to start the motors reliably as a consequence.
It is the nightmare of any equipment or machine owner/operator of the possibility of equipment failure. “That said, the risks of not fitting the correct starter or alternator for a particular piece of heavy machinery are plentiful,” explains Sheldrake. “Premature failure is the thief of time”. In 99% of cases, machine failure is caused by the use of incorrect units which have a limited lifespan, the use of incorrectly fitted and/or underspecified units or exceeding the service life of units by running them until failure practice, are the main causes of failure. However, these can be avoided by simple DC electrical management practices being used by mine operators.
A Unique Value Service Offering
At the centre of any mining operation, the focus is always on the core business task: mining. Often, this occurs against all odds at the expense of ignoring the upkeep of important resources such as heavy-duty equipment. No mining operation can afford to have the resulting downtime. Here is where Shelhurst Components step in with a unique value service offering. For more than 15 years, their focus has been on heavy-duty alternators and starters. Therefore the company can assist customers through their dealers and directly when required. “Our technical support from the Prestolite Electric international engineering team is direct and excellent. Add to that our latest range of alternators and starter motors are OEM approved and replace ageing competitors’ products giving older and new machines and/or vehicles alike reliability and better performance,” the management team at Shelhurst Components assures.
Mining is an extremely capital-intensive business. Machine downtime caused by alternator and starter failure is avoidable. The maintenance of the DC electrics of your machine or vehicle is as important as the scheduled servicing of [other] mechanical components. The team at Shelhurst Components encourages all mining stakeholders to use only OES quality genuine starters and alternators. “The savings will be evident although in some cases the alternators and starters used on these applications are not always correctly specified by the OEMs. This means that the harshness of the condition of operation often necessitates a more powerful robust and reliable alternator and starter motor from a tried and trusted supplier,” they conclude.