By Barton Henderson, Statewide Bearings
Maintaining earth-moving machinery is something that must be done to prevent major problems down the road. The last thing you want on a mining site is non-working equipment. Improper maintenance will shorten the lifespan of machinery, cause it to breakdown frequently, require costly repairs, and slow down your operations. Also, there are workers who die each year due to heavy machinery accidents — often caused by non-maintained equipment and improper training. Following these tips might help prevent injuries and deaths.
Tip #1: Always Keep Machinery Lubricated
All moving parts of a machine will eventually fail if they aren’t lubricated. Without proper lubrication, parts will create excess friction, and this friction can cause severe wear and tear on the machinery. As a result of this deterioration, the lifespan of the moving parts will be drastically shortened. In order to avoid this slow destruction, earth-moving machinery should be properly maintained, and all moving parts should be well lubricated.
The proper amount of lubrication is just as important as the part itself. With too little lubrication, you are not ensuring the moving parts will operate properly. With too much lubrication, the machinery won’t be able to handle it properly, and this could cause energy loss, seal issues and an excess accumulation of grease.
To properly maintain heavy machinery, you should also use the lubrication specifically recommended by the manufacturer. Using the wrong type could be ineffective or even damage the mining machinery.
Tip #2: Clean Heavy Machinery Well
Another great tip for properly maintaining earth-moving machinery is to make sure it stays as clean as possible. Dirt and debris can damage one or more of the delicate parts of heavy machinery — which could necessitate costly repairs.
Earth-moving machinery parts are fitted with special seals and filters designed to keep dirt and grime out of sensitive areas. If a seal cracks or breaks, it won’t properly protect the machinery. Filters that are clogged with excess dirt and grime won’t correctly do their job. Even a machine’s cab contains many delicate pieces of equipment that will malfunction if contaminated.
Broken seals must be repaired immediately. Breathers must be kept clean. And all filters should be inspected regularly, and changed when they become dirty or clogged.
One of the best ways to protect your mining machinery from dirt and the elements is to keep it housed in a building. Anything from a shed to a garage will do; just make sure the building is clean and free from standing water or leaks. By sheltering the machinery, you will prevent rust, grime build-up, and problems that result from these issues.
Tip #3: Maintain Earth-moving Machinery Regularly
Inspecting and repairing heavy machinery every now and then isn’t enough to keep it in peak condition. You need to create and follow a maintenance schedule. Include notations on how often each part of the machinery should be inspected for problems, repaired, and generally maintained.
Be consistent and make sure your inspection is thorough. Gaskets and seals should be regularly inspected to ensure they aren’t damaged or broken. Check belts and pulleys for proper alignment. Bolts should be closely inspected to determine if they have stretched. Any broken parts should be replaced immediately if they do not pass the test. Gears and other moving parts should be inspected for wear and tear, and then lubricated properly, cleaning off any excess grease.
Make a checklist of everything that needs to be regularly maintained and repaired, and then execute on it. By maintaining earth-moving machinery frequently, you will extend its life and increase its performance.
Tip #4: Pay Attention to Wear and Tear
During normal operations you may see signs that point to wear and tear. Be aware of these signs because they may signal problems that can cause machinery to malfunction more often or result in needed repairs or component replacements before your regular inspection.
Some common signs of wear and tear are vibration, heat, and belt shape. Vibration can be caused by a number of items, from misaligned belts to gear glitches. If you notice higher temperatures than normal, improper lubrication or overuse may be the root of the heat source. Misshapen belts are another clue that something needs to be repaired. Fix any issues as soon as they are found so they don’t cause worse problems later.
Tip #5: Keep Employees Trained Well
One of the most important ways to protect heavy machinery is to make sure employees are skilled at operating it. All new employees must be trained thoroughly; and existing employees should be re-trained often to ensure everyone operates the machinery safely and at current standards. Without proper operator training, employees could damage the machinery or even injure themselves or others.
I urge you to follow these tips to help lengthen the lifespan of your mining equipment and to prevent dangerous injuries.