The benefits of load testing: why it’s vital to ensure your gear is adequately tested

Since opening its state-of-the-art service centre in Mackay, Queensland in March 2017, SEW-EURODRIVE has been working with its mining operator customers to ensure their gearboxes and drives are performing at optimum efficiency and safety.

Load testing equipment in the mining industry can ensure that potential problems and risks are identified before they present a serious issue in the future, including downtime and unnecessary costs. SEW-EURODRIVE, working with CNC Design, has established a state-of-the-art system to load test up to 500 kilowatts (kw) of power and up to 600,000 Newton metres (Nm) torque.

Located in Mackay, the centre allows for the load testing of gearboxes, motors, drives and swing-base assembly. “The main advantage of load testing is that we can replicate site conditions in a controlled environment, this includes torque, bearing loading and mounting arrangement,” said Daniel Dallari, sales and operations manager, SEW-EURODRIVE.

SEW-EURODRIVE conduct a number of tests onsite to determine the condition of the gearbox during the load testing phase. The load test will load the bearings and gearing, avoiding gear mesh backlash that affects vibration analysis, ensuring FFT readings will identify any potential bearing, gear, or shaft defect.

The service centre is the first of its kind in Queensland and previously customers were required to ship parts interstate for load testing. “Customers had to either compromise and accept that their gearbox could not be load tested or ship parts interstate,” said Dallari.“Both of these options may result in costly delays and downtime.”

Load testing is fundamental in preventing future delays and failures as well as ensuing potential defects are identified before the gear box is placed into production. The risk of increased downtime is reduced if a defect is identified and fixed during the load testing phase.

A“With underground mining in particular, the cost of installing a unit underground can be astronomical,” Dallari stated. “If you install a gearbox and then find out that there is a fault later down the line it will cost you significantly to then remove this unit — not just in man power but also in downtime associated with such delays.”

“If there is even a slight fault in a gearbox, this will be spotted and dealt with at our load testing centre,” he continued.

The service centre is fundamental to SEW-EURODRIVE’s commitment to its customers and ensuring that they achieve the most efficient and safe operation possible. Since opening early last year, SEW have found that many customers now visit the site regularly.

“We’ve had very good feedback from our customers. With lots of interest from day one, we are now finding that many of our customers are regulars and are really reaping the benefits of load testing their gear,” said Dallari.

At the service centre in Mackay, customers are invited to witness the testing and are informed of the process and its benefits. The SEW-EURODRIVE product specialists talk each customer through the operation and explain any potential issues and defects.

“Being local to the loading centre gives a real advantage. Our customers can now physically come with their equipment and be involved in the process. They often bring their own technicians to learn more about load testing and its benefits,” said Dallari.

With more customers visiting the centre each day, Dallari explained that load testing is a process where you don’t realise how beneficial it can be until you have the option. By mitigating risk and ensuring equipment is regularly checked under mining conditions, any defects are spotted early and dealt with before they present a serious issue down the line.

For more information about SEW EURODRIVE and their load testing site in Queensland, visit: https://www.sew-eurodrive.com.au/home.