ITW stops mining tyres from tiring out

Corrosion in wheel rims can lead to premature failure and increases the safety risks that must be considered when removing mining tyres from a damaged rim. Safe to Work speaks with ITW Polymers & Fluids about the importance of having the right corrosion inhibitor in mining fleets.

Many tyres used on mining equipment are filled with compressed air, which inherently contains moisture.

If left untreated, the moisture causes corrosion and cracks in wheel rims, creating a series of safety concerns for mine workers.

Corrosion also leads to shorter rim life, meaning mining companies are hit with the costs of cleaning or replacements more often.

Additionally, the corrosion makes removing tyres from the rim difficult, exposing workers to the risks associated with these tyre changes.

With the tyre bay one of the most dangerous locations on a mine site for workers, increasing tyre life is an essential part of controlling risks for tyre fitters.

ITW Polymers & Fluids’ corrosion inhibitor solution, Rimtreat-X, has been developed by the company following several decades of research and development.

The company has constantly updated the solution over the years with more advanced formulas, keeping it in line with how mining equipment has evolved.

ITW Polymers & Fluids technical manager – field services Graham Astbury says modern mining trucks are larger and carry increased loads, making it essential for the company to keep its corrosion inhibitor solutions up with the higher capacities.

“We have spent many hours at testing to improve our corrosion inhibition mechanisms, particularly as trucks get larger and larger,” Astbury tells Safe to Work.

“As payloads increase, this also causes an increase in temperatures associated with the internal tyre conditions, so we have had to modify our formulas.

“The Rimtreat-X corrosion inhibitor we have designed prevents that corrosion on the rim, which maintains the rim life and also improves the tyre life.”

With extensive corrosion control testing, the Rimtreat-X inhibitor makes sure rims are kept in working order for longer, increasing longevity of the rim and, as a flow on effect, the tyre itself.

Rimtreat-X also makes visual inspection of rims easier and improves lubricity in the rubber of the tyre, reducing the likelihood of premature tyre failure.

ITW Polymers & Fluids tested and monitored the Rimtreat-X solution for more than 1000 hours in its laboratory simulation unit, which examined its original formulation, as well as modified alternatives to find the hardiest solution.

“ITW Polymers & Fluids put our corrosion inhibitor through the simulation process of heating and rolling on corrosion and rubber coupons, then monitored the corrosion rates for more than 1000 hours,” Astbury explains.

“We then took the inhibitor to a trial site for many hours of actual trial in the field and monitored the rim conditions over time.”

ITW Polymers & Fluids has updated its corrosion inhibitors by introducing a yellow metal inhibitor that actively prevents bi-metallic corrosion from occurring between the wheel rim and valve stem.

The company has also created a dispenser that eliminates the necessity for workers to handle the chemicals used in the inhibitors, enhancing safety in this area and giving operators a more accurate dispense volume of product to avoid over- or under-dosing.

“We are also comfortable that our Rimtreat-X doesn’t interfere with other technology that has been developed around the remote monitoring of tyres and tyre pressures, including sensors,” Astbury says.

“From a productivity perspective, it’s obviously far easier to dismount, mount and change tyres over if there is no corrosion in the rims, so vehicles are being returned to production quicker.

“Tyre rims are a massively expensive component of the truck so reducing the requirement to change, clean and sand blast rims improves cost efficiency across the whole tyre management process.”

Increasing tyre longevity not only reduces the likelihood of accidents and replacement costs, but also puts mining companies in a strong position in the event of a tyre shortage, as occurred some 10 years ago.

In addition to tyre longevity, the increasing size of vehicles and payloads is creating a harsher environment for the tyre management process.

“This means there is much more focus on safer handling and safer ways of managing tyres, and this is also where our equipment comes into the fold,” Astbury says.

By keeping rims cleaner and free of corrosion and managing the chemical handling process, ITW Polymers & Fluids ensures that mining tyres are rolling for longer and more safely with the continued development of Rimtreat-X for the next generation of vehicles.

“From a technology standpoint, we have beefed up our general corrosion inhibition package whilst maintaining tyre integrity to create improved corrosion treatment. By improving the longevity of tyres and rims under the extreme circumstances in which they are operated, we can make sure tyres are safe to use for longer,” Astbury concludes.

This article also appears in the Jan-Feb issue of Safe to Work.

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