March/April 2008

Innovation Page

Increased efficiency for lubrication of mining equipment

By G. Winkel


Modular lubrication facility set up in a mine operation

Innovation in mining takes on many forms. In past issues we have explored technological developments on many fronts, from advanced wear materials to equipment/ground interactions and shovel bucket tooth detection. Innovation is also found in the efforts of mining operators looking to resolve issues or taking that next step to improve the business.

Our latest innovation met the operating challenge of delivering an effective lubrication capability for contract mobile mining equipment that moves between mining sites and often operates in more remote locations. Good lubrication practices and servicing of associated onboard lubricant delivery systems are critical to the reliability and performance of mobile mining equipment. However, temporary lubrication facilities often experience quality and reliability issues, while more robust facilities are usually located in fixed locations, with less than opportune access as the mine develops and expands.

The mining folks in the Ledcor CMI (civil, mining and infrastructure) arm of the firm faced this lubrication challenge in their contract mining efforts. The firm sees engaging employees as an effective method in finding workable solutions and instilling pride and ownership in the end result of a particular work project. To address this area of opportunity, experienced maintenance personnel were teamed up with fabrication experts to deliver a lubrication facility that would meet all the requirements of a quality servicing program, while having the added advantage of being mobile.

The result is a self-powered heated lube building module that can be delivered as one truckload to any location that optimizes mining equipment access to the facility. The lube unit is built with inherent safety designs and environmentally responsible equipment. The interior has raised non-slip grated flooring, with a collection and wash system underneath that directs oils to a central sump that can, in turn, be drained through external fittings into a vacuum truck to eliminate spills from the facility. The unit also provides for waste oil and coolant storage as mine equipment is serviced. Effective lighting is installed to illuminate outside working areas and it is all powered by an environmentally sound Tier 3 diesel engine.

Lubricant supply is accomplished with removable tote containers, eliminating the need for product transfer by pumping. In addition to providing the oils, grease and coolant for servicing and an effective dispensing system incorporating built-in lube reels, there is an onboard workstation for minor repairs and a compressor to run various tooling.

Brian Drofyshyn, general manager, equipment maintenance, Ledcor, believes that innovation is just good business. He cites this creatively designed lube facility as a cooperative effort to develop the next generation of remote lubrication capability. Brian also believes that good ideas are for the benefit of all, and that the mining industry will be well served by this type of innovation.

Gord Winkel is technology manager, Kearl Oil Sands Project, Imperial Oil Resources

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