Using Tribology for Mine Maintenance

Various technical systems are used during mining projects, which are composed of a number of materials that are often vulnerable to the effects of friction and wear during their use. The substantial financial cost that can be associated with the unwanted interactions between both metallic and nonmetallic materials during mining supports the need to invest in tribomechanical systems for mine maintenance.

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The Effects of Wear in Mining

The equipment used during the extraction and handling of mineral bearing ores often experiences a considerable loss of material. As a result, a significant amount of energy is required to overcome the frictional forces that are responsible for the scraping and digging of material surfaces.

Since the mechanisms by which friction occurs vary greatly depending on the wear material, severity of the abrasion, type of loading and external environment, the mining industry faces inevitable challenges in the regular maintenance of these materials.

Maintenance Operations

There are various techniques that can be used to monitor the condition of oil used in mining machinery. These techniques can be classified as either in-line, on-line or off-line monitoring systems.

Off-Line Monitoring Systems

As the original method for analyzing oil conditions, off-line lubricant testing often requires a considerable amount of time from when the oil sample is obtained from the mining machinery to when results become available. To avoid the need to employ individuals to perform these manual analytical processes in-line or on-line monitoring systems are often utilized for the analysis of lubricants used in mining machinery.

In-Line Monitoring Systems

In-line monitoring systems, such as those provided by the international power management company Eaton, are designed to mount directly onto stationary mining systems to allow for continuous or periodic monitoring, depending on the needs of the mine.

Furthermore, Eaton’s in-line systems can be designed for mobile monitoring of hydraulic and lubricating systems. In-line monitoring of oil content, viscosity, purity and particle size is a valuable tool that mine operators can use to determine when maintenance is required for each piece of equipment at a project site.

On-Line Monitoring Systems

The practice of continuous online monitoring for mobile mining equipment, such as draglines, shovels, bucket-wheel excavators, stacker-reclaimers and heavy haul trucks, can significantly reduce the hazards associated with technicians working in the field. Most on-line monitoring systems depend on the precise placement of sensors that are often accompanied by other techniques, such as vibration analysis or acoustic emissions monitoring systems.

A 2005 Industrial Lubrication and Tribology paper discussed the advantage of utilizing an online sensor for analyzing oil degradation within a mining machinery engine over time. In this study the researchers found that their optical color sensor, which functioned by transforming darker oil colors to electrical resistance values, provided accurate information on the condition of the oil, as well as its probable time for drain-off. By utilizing this type of continuous and autonomous online measurement tool, the researchers found that they were able to more accurately plan their engine oil changes, as well as reduce their expenses on lubricants.

References

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Benedette Cuffari

Written by

Benedette Cuffari

After completing her Bachelor of Science in Toxicology with two minors in Spanish and Chemistry in 2016, Benedette continued her studies to complete her Master of Science in Toxicology in May of 2018. During graduate school, Benedette investigated the dermatotoxicity of mechlorethamine and bendamustine, which are two nitrogen mustard alkylating agents that are currently used in anticancer therapy.

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