Filtration for heavy-duty equipment
By John Gaither
The North American mining industry demands reliable filtration in order to meet strict production demands.
If you think about it, nearly every single product anyone comes into contact with during the course of a day contains some sort of mined material. There is also a better-than-average likelihood that that mined material – from soda ash to copper to crushed stone – was produced in either the United States or Canada.
The breadth and depth of the U.S. and Canadian mining industries has far-reaching effects on a wide range of ancillary industries. Some of the most prominent industries affected are the heavy-duty vehicles and equipment that dig the mines, recover the produced mineral or metal, and transport the recovered commodities for refinement and distribution.
Mining vehicles and equipment cost millions of dollars. Any on-site downtime due to operational failure can adversely affect production schedules and lead to massive, unplanned maintenance bills. Choosing the proper filtration products for a mining operation’s heavy-duty rolling fleet and production equipment will keep critical equipment components operating properly and at their highest level of efficiency.
A greater perspective
Emissions, dust and airborne contaminants can foul cabin air, lower engine efficiency and harm profit margins. In this photo, a cabin air filter is replaced.
According to research The Freedonia Group conducted, global demand for heavy-duty mining equipment is counted in tens of billions of dollars. The value of the North American market will reach $11.1 billion this year and nearly $14 billion by 2020. This demand makes North America the second-largest market for these products, behind only the Asia-Pacific region. World mining equipment demand is predicted to reach $92 billion in 2015 and $130 billion in 2020.
In a highly cost- and production-intensive industry, keeping mining equipment operating is a concern for mine operators every day of the 24/7/365 production cycle. Maintenance is such a top priority that some large U.S. mining operations budget upwards of $75 million a year for equipment maintenance alone. Within that budget, a fleet of 30 haul trucks can require more than $300,000 worth of filtration products per year.
A large heavy-duty mining vehicle can have rows of filters lined up in parallel. On a large, 50-plus-liter industrial engine that might have four turbochargers, each of those turbochargers will require one or two air filters. The fuel, oil and hydraulics side might require another 20 filters.
Reliable and efficient filtration is critical for mining equipment that must operate in severe service environments. A million-dollar piece of equipment can be rendered inefficient or even inoperable because of a single filter. The filter’s ability to operate effectively and efficiently is essential. With the mass amounts of airborne contaminants assaulting mining vehicles and equipment on a daily basis, reliable filter media and premium sealing surfaces are critical.
Severe-duty conditions also mean the filters must be properly designed to withstand high-stress loading. Filter performance and durability are only achieved by proper design and testing upfront. Most mining equipment totals 500 hours of operation before it undergoes a preventive-maintenance checkup. At that rate, the equipment is subject to a particulate matter procedure once every three weeks.
Most mine operators will also perform regular oil analysis of their mining vehicles once every 11 days. This illustrates the importance of a particulate matter schedule and the impact of filtration for any number of systems on a vehicle.
Modern vehicles require modern lines of oil, air, fuel, cabin air, hydraulic and coolant filter technologies that can help optimize vehicle and equipment performance and increase uptime in severe-duty mining operations.
Harsh environments challenge modern filtration and push filters to their limits. It is important to have filters matched to the tasks the equipment will perform and the type of environment in which they might be operating.
Unique filtration design, from increased air-filter capacity and enhanced pleat counts to innovative additive release that extends change intervals, can have a tremendous impact on operating efficiency and profit margins.
Often overlooked, but just as important as the vehicle’s operating efficiency, is the operator and the cabin environment. Cabin air filters can protect drivers and equipment operators from the airborne contaminants surrounding any mining operation. Capable of filtering out particles as small as 5 microns, cabin air filters protect drivers and keep them comfortable.
The demands that a mining operation puts on its vehicles and equipment are uniquely harsh. Quality filtration that is reliable and meets or exceeds OEM standards is critical to ensure maximum efficiency and a healthy bottom line for the operation.
Quality filtration that meets or exceeds OEM standards is critical to ensure maximum efficiency and a healthy bottom line for the operation.
John Gaither is the director of heavy-duty engineering for Luber-finer®.