SKF Digital Solution for Slew Bearing Condition Monitoring

Stacker and reclaimers play a critical role in Australian iron ore operations, helping to shift thousands of tonnes of material per hour into stockpiles and on for shipping.

With the cost of ore currently well over USD100 a tonne, unplanned stoppages of these machines can quickly add up to hundreds of thousands – even millions – of dollars in lost production.

Despite the high stakes, miners have traditionally relied on OEM guidelines and yearly manual inspections to decide when to replace the massive slewing bearings that allow the boom arms on their balance machines to pivot and turn.

With data collected in this way highly unreliable, the result has been bearings that are replaced well before the end of their working life – or that are run until a catastrophic failure occurs.

SKF has been working with an Australian iron ore miner to optimise its approach to slewing bearing condition monitoring for its stacker/reclaimers. By fitting sophisticated sensors inside the massive bearings, SKF has provided the miner with a continuous feed of information on bearing health, allowing it to precisely plan replacement.

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