Any manufacturing, agricultural, or mining operation strives to eliminate unplanned equipment downtime and the repair costs associated with it. Unfortunately, not executing routine service and preventive maintenance procedures still occurs. The result, then, is hydraulic systems operating with contaminated fluid and the subsequent reliability problems, erratic operation, and premature component failures that inevitably occur.
Even if an organization has a preventive maintenance program in place, lapses can still occur. A solution, then, would be to monitor fluid contamination in real time and signal operators when it approaches dangerous level.
That’s just what a South American mining company did. The mining company has a fleet of hydraulic shovels, excavators, and rock crushers that undergoes scheduled downtime to reduce unscheduled malfunctions from contamination. However, scheduling the downtime for preventive maintenance is like walking a tightrope: too frequent costs money than necessary, but too seldom increases the likelihood of equipment failure.
Automation Provides the Solution
Instead, the mining company began using a real-time particle counting system that signals when fluid contamination approaches a critical level. This eliminates the cost of replacing filters prematurely but also lets technicians change filters before a machine suffers a failure.
The system adopted by the mining company is the Hy-Trax Telematic communications module with remote-controlled sampling system from Schroeder Industries, Leetsdale, Pa. The system monitors cleanliness of fluid in hydraulic reservoirs, then transmits results to maintenance department headquarters. This lets the mining company's equipment technicians schedule maintenance based on actual fluid cleanliness levels instead of hours of operation. As a result, filters are now changed only when necessary and without disrupting mining operations, but before contamination poses any serious threat to machine reliability.
Schroeder’s Hy-Trax fluid sampling system is at the heart of the patent-pending, on-board particle counting system. It uses telematics to remotely monitor cleanliness of the hydraulic fluid and communicates the unit location through a GSM cellular network with data displayed on a web-based dashboard. Real-time data collection and processing allows tracking, trending, and predict ing downtime, which, ultimately, increases productivity. With multiple options offered, the telematics module automatically controls the speed and pressure of the unit’s variable-speed pump-motor drive for accurate sensor readings in variable conditions.
Users can set particle count and water saturation limits to activate an alarm if prescribed limits are reached. When set limits are exceeded, the unit will send a text message to users, notifying them of excessive contamination. Particle counts and water saturation levels are clearly displayed graphically in real time. Furthermore, a table and gauges let users track and trend (days, months, and years) data to move from reactionary-based maintenance to predictive.
For more information on Schroeder’s Hy-Trax Telematic communications module with remote-controlled sampling system, call (724) 318-1100, or visit www.schroederindustries.com.