Automated lubrication systems keep mobile and fixed assets on track, preventing downtime before it becomes too costly. It’s something JSG Industrial Systems is an expert in and continues to refine every day.
Lubrication systems have come a long way over time and have proved to be an understated yet essential cog in preventing downtime at mining operations.
Friction is the buzz word in lubrication, and two metals rubbing against each other under a heavy load doesn’t bode well without lubrication to keep things turning.
With more than 50 years’ experience delivering products and solutions to the mining and industrial sectors, JSG Industrial Systems has become a master in the art of lubrication systems, ensuring machinery stays on track.
This has culminated in the development of JSG’s comprehensive offering of automated lubrication systems – industry-leading product that increases productivity and machine reliability, while also improving worker safety.
JSG business development manager Mike Sipman says automating and monitoring lubrication are the next evolution in preventative maintenance, enabling greater predictability and planning on mine sites.
“What happens is, on a lot of automated equipment, in terms of occupational health and safety, there are many areas of a plant that cannot be lubricated while they’re operating,” Sipman tells Australian Mining.
“If you automate that process and calculate how long a machine can operate before a maintenance shut occurs, that has a huge impact on production because it might be that you’re running 12 weeks, maybe 18 weeks, without actually stopping the plant.
“So, if you reduce the number of shutdowns for maintenance, you’re actually increasing production automatically.”
Aligned with global manufacturer SKF, JSG has supplied automated lubrication systems for assets of all kinds and sizes, and the deployment of the technology has become the industry standard.
“For a particular project, all mobile fleets are now installed with automatic lubrication systems – a lot of it from the OEM factory,” Sipman says.
“We’ve installed lubrication systems on screen house shuttles, belt feeders, take-up winches, we’ve done crushers – anything that has rotating equipment and bearings can be automatically lubricated.
“SKF manufactures such a huge range of lubrication products to suit any application. They just have everything – from the single point lubricator to fully integrated lubrication systems lubricating hundreds of lubrication points autonomously.”
Many mining operations prefer their automated lubrication systems to be plant controlled, and JSG’s solutions cater for this with the ability to extend the technology across numerous assets.
One JSG customer has an operator which oversees 16 independent zones from their control system, offering a bird’s eye view across many lubrication points.
With JSG’s automated lubrication systems used comprehensively across the mining industry, the company has established a sound footprint making it a leading supplier in the field.
Much of JSG’s success can be attributed to relationships and collaboration, something which has seen the business become the leading global distributor for SKF lubrication solutions and the preferred choice to work with other METS (mining equipment, technology and services) companies as part of an expansive supply chain.
The company has established a distribution network that allows it to support SKF’s lubrication products throughout Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Singapore and beyond.
JSG has also built a relationship with Monadelphous – one of Australia’s leading engineering groups in industries such as mining, oil and gas, light industrial, rail and power.
Monadelphous has partnered with JSG at a major iron ore operation in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, purchasing its automated lubrication systems as part of a supply and installation contract for the major miner.
“My dealings with JSG – they were upfront, they were approachable,” Monadelphous senior engineer Adam Hosking says.
“They weren’t long lead items (for the iron ore project), so we set milestones of what we wanted first and what we wanted last, and they matched their delivery schedules to suit us and our site installation handover sequences. They worked really well prioritising what was required.”
Monadelphous received strong feedback from the mining company’s commissioning of the automated lubrication systems – a product of its fruitful collaboration with JSG.
Forging robust relationships across the mining and METS sectors has been critical to JSG’s success, and the company sees an ongoing growing demand for their lubrication system solutions.
“Any rotating equipment that’s autonomous needs reliable lubrication,” Sipman says of its automated lubrication systems. “I mean, a lot of these sites where things are remote, you need to be able to rely on a piece of equipment to be lubricated.”
Mining operations have a lot riding on every process at every hour of the day, and one unplanned maintenance operation slip-up can prove especially costly.
“It might be that someone has to drive very long distances or fly to a site to service a piece of equipment – that’s the downfall of automation, you don’t have people at the ready,” Sipman continues.
“So, you need reliable equipment to be able to keep these things running optimally and automated lubrication systems ensure that.”
Sipman believes a big part of the automation movement is a result of mining companies realising the importance of proactivity rather than reactivity, and not resting on your laurels.
“That’s the biggest difference with this level of automation now – you’re optimising everything. Nobody accepts that, ‘We always replace that bearing at X number of hours because that’s just how it was’, that doesn’t happen anymore,” Sipman says.
“Now we’re monitoring everything and we’re going to get the maximum production out of the cost of that asset. In the past, businesses just used to accept replacing things at certain intervals and they just went along with having to do that.
“What you find now is, and one of the reasons we’ve got this level of automation is, it’s no longer easy to get skilled people with experience to do this type of work.”
As the JSG legacy grows, its automated lubrication systems will remain a critical aspect of mining operations well into the future.
In a world where mining companies have a smaller margin for error than ever before, keeping an operation on track and on time is non-negotiable.
This article appears in the December issue of Australian Mining.