Hot maintenance tips for critical mine equipment (part 3)

Tip 3:  Gear applications 

Gears are one of the most important applications in any mining operation – used everywhere from the equipment used in the pit to many processing plants. Keeping gears turning is critical to the bottom line. Each gear system is unique, often calling for its own unique fluid which can lead to complexity.

When selecting a lubricant, it is important to understand the application and the operating environment to make sure the lubricant used is formulated specifically for those needs, while balancing the number of lubricants you keep on hand at your mine site. Many gear applications will call for either an oil or a grease, which can lead to further complexity. While evaluating your equipment, Mobil™ can provide the extra resources and expertise for you to make a thorough decision.

For open gear systems, whether it be on a shovel ring gear or a ball mill, three factors to consider for a proper lubrication program include:

  • Selecting the right lubricant for the application – This can include the temperature range the gear system operates in, expected load factor, external operating environment such dirt ingress, exposure to moisture, etc. 
  • Optimizing application rates – Often issues occur when the lubricant is over or under applied. Understanding the operating environment will help determine what the right frequency and how much to apply. In wet or dusty environments, you may need to increase frequency, or have a system in place to make seasonal adjustments based on temperature. 
  • Inspection routine on application system and gear wear – Many open gear systems have complex application systems that need regular inspection. Finding the right balance of when to take these systems down for inspection is important to optimize equipment availability and ensure longevity. New technologies are allowing for easier inspection that are less invasive and can be done while equipment is running. 

For stationary gear boxes, these are often oil lubricated and the viscosity selection is depending on many factors such as the temperature and expected load. With hundreds of gearboxes on site, balancing the number of unique lubricants and keeping the product count down are areas where Mobil can help optimize at your site. One example is some gear oils need extreme pressure (EP) additives, yet other gear boxes may contain components where EP additives can accelerate wear. Another option is that synthetic gear oils can often cover wider operating temperature ranges, thus reducing the number of viscosity grades you need to manage your gearbox maintenance program.