A mine worker beside a conveyor in operation.

The mining industry presents one of the harshest operational environments for slurry pumps. Generally working 24/7/365, these workhorses play a vital role in product movement throughout the mining site.

Despite (or perhaps as a result of) their essential task, they remain one of the most problematic assets. Leaks and inefficiency create various issues, from minor to downright catastrophic. These can be attributed to multiple causes, namely:

  • Constant vibration from non-stop operation
  • Corrosive and abrasive mediums
  • Ineffective monitoring of vital pump elements (seals, bearings, packing, lubrication)
  • Poor maintenance processes leading to excessive heat build-up and resulting failures

These problems are no secret, with many solutions being tried over the years with varying levels of success. As every maintenance manager is well aware, sealing challenges aren’t restricted to selecting the correct products. It also requires information that defines when and where maintenance is required, along with the correct lubrication programme.

If these obstacles can be overcome, the end result is a more productive mining operation and, ultimately, increased profits.

Positively impact the bottom line with a three-pronged approach

Improving the following three elements is the key to solving sealing challenges:

  • Effective seal monitoring
  • The correct lubrication schedules
  • The right choice of seals and packing

The following looks at some of the cutting-edge solutions available today.

Making monitoring easy with Chesterton Connect

Many mines are in remote – perhaps even unmanned – locations. Even if they’re not, their 24/7 operation makes monitoring assets a tough gig. Intense vibration, pressures, processes and surface temperatures are constantly eroding the efficiency of seal integrity.

Enter Chesterton Connect; a simple, cost-effective method of measuring all of these pressures constantly and automatically. This easy-to-install monitoring system uses multiple sensors to return the constant operational health of the asset. By setting acceptable parameters, maintenance teams can be alerted to any out-of-the-ordinary events, when they happen and their precise location.

The benefits of this data include: 

  • Undesirable events can be acted on immediately
  • Maintenance can be accurately planned and scheduled
  • Trends can be spotted early and the resulting threat to asset uptime eliminated
  • Predictive maintenance can extend asset longevity
  • Hard-to-find faults become easier to locate

Chesterton Connect works via Bluetooth, returning data to either an intuitive app for mobile access or sent to the cloud for remote data analysis. All received data can easily be exported for full analysis. The tool is designed to withstand the most hostile of environments and can be fitted to a wide variety of rotating equipment. This includes pumps, agitators and mixers.

Remove the guesswork with Lubri-Cup 

Lubrication is an ongoing challenge, with a high risk of under or over-greasing. The issues with either of these scenarios need no introduction – poor heat conduction, increased wear and the early failure of seals and elements the process is meant to extend.

The LubriCup automatic grease dispenser is the remote answer. This multi-asset tool is designed to deliver a precise amount of lubrication exactly when needed – not a second before or a second too late.

While it’s generally considered a tool that’s most advantageous for hazardous environments or remote locations, the LubriCup benefits extend further beyond this. Automating what is often a complex yet monotonous task results in:

  • Removing human error that results in over and under-lubrication
  • Freeing up maintenance staff for other essential work
  • Increasing critical reliability
  • Increasing seal longevity
  • Positively impacting the bottom Line

LubriCup is available in nitrogen-driven disposable and electro-mechanical units with replaceable service packs. Standby equipment can also be serviced with the upgraded vibration-sensing option or remotely controlled through PLC connection. 

Up the sealing ante with Chesterton’s Slurry Cartridges Single Seal and SpiralTrac 

The choice of seal and upgraded cooling control completes the three-pronged attack. Harsh, heavy slurry environments demand pump seals with a tough, no-clog design. Removing the need for expensive flushes is also key, as this reduces the dilution rate. 

Chesterton’s Slurry Single Cartridge Seal has turned seal design on its head. The complexities of the slurry seal have been removed by using advanced technology and a simple, patented design. This results in a simple construction that’s effective, easy to install and has longevity. Combine this with an environmental controller, such as SpiralTrac, and the three sides of the slurry solution triangle are complete.

SpiralTrac utilises advanced engineering to control the internal stuffing box environment. Multiple versions exist, meaning both mechanical seals and packing benefit from the removal of particulates from the stuffing box. This results in adequate lubricating fluid circulation and minimal heat build-up. 

It comes in four configurations – split, adapter, standard and packing – meaning every seal type can benefit from the effective removal of solids and the resulting improvement in cooling.

While no one is going to suggest that this combination of sealing technology completely removes the complexities of seal challenges, the benefits are being proven in multiple real-world scenarios. Protecting the vital internal workings of seals from the corrosive effects of slurry is the key to more effective operations.

The industry is experiencing many challenges, especially those surrounding its relevance in today’s increasingly environmentally aware landscape. Therefore, processes that can both improve operations and reduce environmental impacts must be embraced. 

While the Chesterton triangle of products might not quite be the holy grail that revolutionises the public perspective of the mining industry, it’s a pretty big step in the right direction. Not only that, but it does so while positively impacting the operational bottom line. 

To learn more or contact Chesterton, click here.  

Introducing Chesterton® and Chesterton Customseal

Chesterton Customseal specialises in elastomeric polymer seals. The company offers our full range of high-performance seals directly or through its distribution channel partners. Chesterton’s product portfolio includes mechanical seals, packing and gaskets, industrial lubricants and MRO products, ARC industrial coating and IoT innovation with the easy-to-install Chesterton Connect™.

Chesterton’s distributors work with companies across all major industries to achieve higher equipment reliability, efficiency, and compliance to increase competitiveness in the marketplace. The company’s goal is to solve real-world equipment and process issues to help customers reduce costs and increase profit margins.

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