Total and Lubrilog gear up for mining

Total and Lubrilog’s maintenance service ensures open gear operations at Australian mines keep running smoothly. Australian Mining reports.

If David and Goliath had put aside their differences to work towards a common goal, the result could have been beneficial for both. And not dissimilar to the partnership between Total and Lubrilog.

With total revenues of $US209.4 billion ($295.6 billion) in 2018, French company Total is a true giant of the oil and gas world. Lubrication specialist Lubrilog, meanwhile, is a much smaller and younger company that is well known for its lubrication technologies in open gear systems.

Founded in 1987 in the small commune of Romans-sur-Isère in southeastern France, Lubrilog was renowned locally for its work with French cement companies and gradually expanded into other industries such as mining, where its products are generally applied to open gears for mills, kilns and excavator draglines.

Lubrilog’s expertise in this relatively niche application was not lost on Total, which serves as Lubrilog’s official worldwide distributor.

“I think it’s exciting for both companies,” says David Kupiec, Total key account and marketing manager, mining lubricants.

“For Total, if we look at what we can offer to the mining industry, we offer the full range of fuels and lubricants, except for open gears, which represented a gap in our output. We are able to fill that with Lubrilog. It’s a real win-win situation for two companies with lots of synergies.”

Lubrilog’s product range of oils and greases are well suited to open gear solutions in several industries, including mining, with the primary products being Grafolog, Gear Fluid and Lubriclean EP.

Grafolog is an extreme pressure, high-viscosity (up to 10,000 centistokes) grease that is typically used to lubricate loaded open gears on ball, rod, and semi-autonomous grinding (SAG) mills, kilns and rotary drum drives. It includes an aluminium complex soap to provide scuffing resistance on metallic surfaces.

“It is very adhesive on the gears and brings excellent film thickness – we can apply the products on any open gear in process plants and also in open pits, draglines and rope shovels,” Kupiec explains.

Gear Fluid is a semi-synthetic oil, designed for high-powered drives. It is highly translucent, allowing improved visibility for operators, who can apply visual inspections to the gears during operational activities and possesses a viscosity of up to 22,000 centistokes at 40 degrees Celsius.

“You can see the gear through the oil, meaning you can see any possible defects and make necessary planned maintenance activities early,” Kupiec explains.

Finally, Lubriclean EP (the company’s newest technology) is an open gear cleaning solution. It can be sprayed on mining equipment while it is still in operation, a scenario that can lead to considerable improvements in productivity by reducing machine downtime, especially in often-dusty Australian mine sites.

Typically, the cleaning process is laborious, requiring equipment to be shut down so workers can clean gears manually for a period of up to three days. Lubriclean EP’s spray-on application can be carried out using only two or three drums of product per ball mill. The product is applied during the last hour of operation and whilst the equipment is being shut down. This then allows for maintenance activities and inspections to commence immediately following the complete shut down of the mill.

“The ability to clean the gear without stopping the mills is a real breakthrough — we’ve cleaned more than 100 gear sets now using Lubriclean EP and it works perfectly,” says Kupiec. “For a typical iron ore mine, one hour of downtime can cost $30,000 or more, so theoretically we can save millions with Lubriclean EP over time.”

“We even have clients that use Lubriclean EP every six months for preventative maintenance activities saving many man hours previously lost for manual cleaning purposes, so they never stop their gear for cleaning anymore.”

The Lubriclean EP technology is a key part of Lubrilog’s service package, with the company providing full open gear service options for mine sites in Australia through its affiliation with Total. The company provides full gear inspection and analysis, and reports are sent to gear experts at Lubrilog, who provide recommendations and reliable ways of improving operations and enhancing productivity.

“This partnership is not only about the product, but also about the service,” says Kupiec.

“They have a flexibility and expertise with open gears, and we have trained our technical teams globally to do inspections. Thanks to the unique value it has demonstrated, this alliance is truly appreciated by miners.”

This article appears in the May 2019 issue of Australian Mining.

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