By allowing for timely detection of defects and scheduling repairs, proactive maintenance ensures that pumps perform optimally at all times, writes Matimu Mahundla.
Just like other equipment used in the mining environment, pumps have to function optimally at all times. That is why it is essential that mining companies should take a proactive approach to pump maintenance.
Costly consequences of a reactive mindset
Indifference to pump maintenance can cost a mining company greatly. In Asset Management 101, Larry Covino and Michael Hanitas, bring attention to the costly consequences of a reactive mindset to equipment maintenance. The two say that due to poor maintenance planning, a mining company can find itself not having enough time to complete maintenance routines.
“Mines may experience various challenges including spare parts shortages, increased overtime and callouts, poorer quality repairs and documentation due to limited planning time,” they warn. Perhaps, it has to be mentioned that the ensuing equipment downtime can hit mines where it hurts the most: low revenue.
Proactive maintenance programme
To forestall the aforementioned costly consequences of pump failure, Covino et al, emphasise that it is essential to stick to draw up a proactive maintenance program and religiously stick to it. This should be the practice even when the pump seems to be performing perfectly.
Commenting further, Rob Bond, Slurry Pumps Manager from KSB Pumps and Valves suggests that mining comoanies should follow the OEM’s advice. “Operators should conduct proactive and regular maintenance as suggested by the OEM and at scheduled shuts.”
Predictive maintenance tools
In the present times, companies are advantaged as they have modern technology they can use to carry proactive maintenance with ease at their disposal. For instance, Covino et al say that industries can utilise tools to carry out tool predictive maintenance of centrifugal pumps. Through energy monitoring, vibration and neutral network pattern recognition techniques, the tools improve the efficiency of industrial centrifugal pumps by recognising acceptable and unacceptable operating conditions early.
Todd Sturtz introduces another modern method. In his review, Pumps and Systems, he says, as part of their predictive maintenance, using device, pumps can monitor a pumps raw power signature to understand the pump’s torque profile as it operates.
The monitoring instrument comes with a software system that understands the complex algorithms of the pump behavior, detects obstruction and controls the pump whenever necessary.
The important benefit of this technique removes the time consuming task of manually lifting pumps and costs associated with pump lagging. Bearing in mind the costly impact of equipment downtime, it is only rational that mines should take a proactive approach to equipment maintenance.
Modern tools have lightened the burden which hitherto born to carry out their equipment maintenance programmes like detect problems in time and schedule appropriate repairs and avoid early pump outages.