In a tough economic climate, South Africa’s mining, cement and other industrial sector players are facing numerous challenges, including a strained electricity supply, rising operating costs, and fuel increases. This has put them under pressure to maintain profitability by cutting costs. However, cutting costs in the wrong places could have a negative long-term impact on a business’s sustainability.
Rather than looking to cut costs by opting to use cheaper maintenance products, companies need to focus on protecting and managing their equipment more carefully, particularly in harsh operating environments, such as mines and cement factories.
LE national marketing manager Callum Ford says the company has experienced cases where mines have attempted to cut costs by using cheaper lubricants, but have found that it is not profitable. He notes that these customers have returned to LE products owing to their quality and contribution to greater equipment longevity.
“Given the abrasive nature of the requirements in these two industries, the gears used in mining and cement production experience high wear and typically have to be replaced often,” he points out.
“Owing to the resultant downtime, loss of productivity, and the price and transportation of replacement parts, this becomes costly. Therefore, it is worth investing in the right lubrication solution – it can drastically cut down on the wear and tear, especially on large open gears that have to perform at a high intensity in challenging conditions. They have to withstand dust, silica, water, high heat and extreme pressures. Open-gear lubricants must be specially formulated to keep these gears and machinery operating at maximum efficiency.”
Ford adds that using high-quality lubricants can also reduce the volume of lubrication products that a plant or mine needs to use, meaning that operating costs decrease over the long run when using higher-grade products.
One of LE’s mining clients switched the lubricant on its mill drill motor to the company’s Pyroshield 9011 XHvy high-viscosity oil, and the client saw the drill motor moving from operating at between 5.4 MW and 5.6 MW to between 4.6 MW and 5 MW – an energy saving of 400 kW to 600 kW, or about 12%, while maintaining the same production output, Ford states.
“The client also reduced its monthly lubricant consumption from 800 kg a month to 80 kg, which just goes to show that buying a quality product has real benefits.”
LE also offers its clients support so that they are equipped to use its gear lubricants and greases to maximum efficiency, giving mines and cement plants the greatest value possible for their money. LE technicians analyse sites to ensure the correct lubricants are being used, and that they are applied properly to achieve good equipment performance, which, in turn, reduces electricity consumption and wastage.
“For mines and cement factories looking to cut costs, the answer may not be to use cheaper products, but rather to find quality equipment maintenance products that require lower volumes to achieve their purpose and increase the longevity of machinery,” Ford concludes