NDT (Non Destructive Test) works carried out by SKF Zambia on more than 90 mobile mining machines and equipment operating on one of the country’s largest copper mines, delivered massive savings for the customer over a six month period. 

The mine, which is located in Zambia’s North-Western Province, is a key long-term customer of SKF Zambia. “We share a solid 15+ year relationship with our customer, supplying the mine with SKF bearings and seals as well as Lincoln Lubrication solutions over the years,” confirms Key Accounts Manager at SKF Zambia, Mel Patel.

Internal cracks on mobile machines are a chronic issue on the mine where heavy equipment operates round-the-clock. NDT works are thus fundamental to the mine’s predictive maintenance strategy planning. In addition to averting unnecessary downtime, huge parts procurement costs can be avoided through better planning around stocking of larger parts with longer lead times.

The SKF Zambia’s specialist team conducts NDT works on 90 machines on the copper mine every six months, completing two to five units per day. These include the mine’s most critical machines such as Articulated Dump Trucks (ADT’s), Mine Haul Trucks, drill rigs, rock breakers and excavators that operate 24/7 as well as equipment including excavator buckets and booms. Additional inspections are also carried out on other components on the mine as required by the end-user.

“Our NDT scope of work is comprehensive comprising aspects such as 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,” notes Patel.

SKF Zambia’s NDT solution which was rolled out in June 2020 included both traditional as well as advanced techniques. Ultrasonic Testing, Magnetic Particle Penetrant Testing, Eddy Current Testing and painting and coating inspection are some of the traditional methods applied by SKF Zambia.

Some results following testing work included the identification of frame cracks on various dump trucks and excavators. “We filed a report for repairs and, following the necessary repairs, we conducted a second inspection to ensure that all was in order,” says Patel. “By pinpointing issues and enabling the necessary repairs to be done before catastrophic failures, we delivered tremendous cost and time savings benefits to our customer.” In addition to keeping repair costs to a minimum, equipment availability is optimised while uptime, and subsequently productivity, is increased. These advantages present a solid argument for the vital role that NDT works play in predictive maintenance which is fundamental to the future sustainability of a mine or plant.

Patel explains that SKF Zambia has added further value for the customer by placing a skilled team on the mine site. “Our team is on standby, ready to respond immediately to any requests from the mine’s maintenance manager for necessary machine or equipment inspection.”

“Forging long-term partnerships with customers and delivering turnkey solutions rather than just selling products add good value to our overall strategic focus on Rotating Equipment Performance (REP). Our solid NDT works have strengthened our customer’s trust and have presented future opportunities for online monitoring of mobile machines on the copper mine,” concludes Patel.

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