Mining maintenance spending in Australia is expected to rise by more than 60 per cent annually to $12 billion by 2022, according to fastener manufacturer Segnut.
The Australian company estimates that 30 to 50 per cent of operating costs on all mining projects relate to maintenance tasks.
Segnut believes a significant portion of rising maintenance costs in mining can be attributed to seized, damaged and difficult to access nuts on fixed infrastructure and mobile equipment.
The frequent replacement also raises safety issues, including the use of impact wrenches causing upper arm trauma and hand injuries through severe vibrations, according to the company.
Segnut’s team witnessed a lot of activity where oxy cutting, or so-called gas-axing, was used. It identified issues with high temperatures, direct hazards to personnel and the chance of a fire breaking out.
“When the joint comes loose, the whole bolt starts to rotate when undone and the worker’s instinct is to try and push the bolt back and stop it from spinning,” Segnut director, product development Tom Baskovich said.
Segnut has delivered a patented solution that completely eliminates these hazardous methods, facilitating faster and safer removal of nuts.
This world-first proprietary threaded nut product has an inner section that consists of three segments that are held captive by an outer retaining sleeve.
Turning the outer sleeve a few degrees in the tightening direction releases the Segnut from the bolt, making it fall away.
A gold mine in Western Australia has used Segnuts on its D10 dozers, subsequently experiencing a 79 per cent reduction in the time taken to remove the nuts from a cutting edge blade.
Segnut has also helped eliminate high risk nut removal practices on loaders at a South Australian quarry, where serious lost time injuries had been experienced.
“These and similar trials that have been conducted over the past 18 months clearly illustrate that a relatively simple change in approach can have a major impact in hazard control, improving safety and productivity, managing costs and simplifying maintenance,” Baskovich said.
“We are excited about the feedback that we have received from industry, which reaffirms the value and impact of our approach to safer, faster and smarter nut removal.
“It is evident that there is a paradigm shift towards smarter investment in safety and productivity through the elimination of dangerous practices, costly delays and serious injuries, ultimately contributing to the reduction of maintenance costs.”
Segnut expects to conduct further trials with major mining companies in the coming months.