SKF Zambia Ltd was recently awarded a 12-month extension to its Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) services contract by one of Zambia’s largest copper mines located in the country’s North-Western Province. SKF Zambia was also able to tie in Vibration Analysis (VA) services into the contract for over 44 mobile machines from the mine’s heavy equipment workshop.
“We have a solid 15+ years business relationship with the mine, supplying our customer with SKF bearings and seals as well as Lincoln Lubrication solutions over the years,” says SKF Zambia’s key accounts manager, Mel Patel.
Patel explains that the original NDT contract, secured by SKF Zambia in July 2020, required work on more than 90 mobile mining machines and equipment. “In order to better predict planned downtime and in so doing avoid unplanned and costly stoppages, the mine required additional NDT works from us. Owing to the massive savings that our NDT services delivered to our customer over a six month period combined with our exemplary service, the mine decided to extend our NDT contract and also requested our VA services.”
SKF Zambia’s comprehensive NDT scope of work includes inspection of welds, castings, forgings, components, plates and rolled product piping; coating inspection covering all aspects of surface finishing; mining truck frame inspection; holiday testing, and Corrosion Under Insulation Detection using Lixi Profiler.
In addition to articulated dump trucks (ADTs), mine haul trucks, drill rigs and rock breakers, the renewed contract, secured in July 2021, also requires SKF Zambia’s NDT works on large excavators, super structures and digging buckets.
As these critical mobile machines operate round-the-clock in extremely stringent conditions, internal cracks are common. “Through our NDT works, we are able to identify and report cracks, allowing our customer to do the necessary repairs before catastrophic failures can occur,” continues Patel.
“Through this early detection, unnecessary downtime is averted, passing on tremendous cost and time savings benefits to our mine customer. Moreover, through better planning around the stocking of larger parts, the mine is able to realise further savings on parts procurement costs and longer lead times.”
Patel points out that NDT’s fundamental role in ensuring a streamlined predictive maintenance strategy for the mine is further strengthened by VA services which can be done anywhere on a moment’s notice. VA services will be conducted by SKF Zambia technicians on the Electric Drive Alternators (EDA) on forty heavy haul trucks to make sure the alternators are operating within correct tolerances.
Two out of these 40 trucks will be mounted with a fixed IMX-16 unit for 24/7 monitoring. Any vibration that is detected outside of specifications will be flagged and the workshop will be notified accordingly. “We will be using an online portable IMx-16+ system for 24/7 vibration monitoring which will be hooked directly into SKF’s regional Remote Diagnostic Centre (RDC) in Johannesburg, South Africa,” explains Patel.
He highlights the fact that this new IMx-16+ solution will be used for the first time in Africa to collect and forward data to the RDC for analysis.
By giving the customer advanced warnings, the mine will be able to plan maintenance downtown within a 24-hour operation, avoiding potential catastrophic and costly failures. It also helps the customer to plan repairs and component rebuilds using SKF products. “In short, NDT and VA services will lead to better predictability, increased equipment reliability and availability and enhanced uptime, ultimately ensuring improved production for our customer,” concludes Patel.