Look beyond the bucket

Australian mining companies have a reputation for innovation and adopting new technology.

However, one area where they are lagging is the proper use of fusion cladding products, according to Alloy Steel International regional manager Greg Muller.

“Fusion-clad plate has been commercially available for more than 10 years as a reaction to wear products with unpredictable wear life, such as welded overlay plates,” he said.

“The problems with these plates stem from poor chemistry and the plate being severely diluted during the manufacturing process.”

Dense, chromium carbide-rich, fused alloy overlay plates can eliminate problems with unpredictable traditional wear plates, according to Muller.

“Manufacturers can control the chemistry of chromium carbide-rich plates and minimise base metal dilution through intelligent production processes,” he told Australian Mining.

“This can achieve predictable wear rates and component life.”

The reduced thickness of fusion-cladding products can also reduce the weight of equipment.

“Wear plate change outs can be scheduled much later and replacement of the wear kit may not always be necessary with superior products,” he said.

Wear plate choices need to be made on sound evidence with the growing number of new products available.

“Costs in downtime are obvious, but more importantly the hidden costs in productivity losses should be eliminated by choosing appropriate wear components,” Muller said.

“Increased drag, friction, energy consumption, spillages, stresses and transferred wear on other mechanical components come as a result of inappropriate wear plate choice,” Muller said.

“Machine weight and the excessive demand on valuable resources can also be a factor,” he added.

Mine managers need to be careful about component selection and ask for evidence of cost savings and increased productivity from manufacturers.

“Mine managers should also recognise the long term benefits of investing in wearing protective materials,” Muller said.

“Mining companies should examine the current cost of maintenance so that the financial systems are in place to prove maintenance and savings claims made by manufacturers,” he said.

In some applications the interaction of different wear types makes it difficult to identify weak components.

“Wear plate manufacturers must identify and analyse the wear type and match the correct design and grade to yield more efficient results,” Muller said.

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