DYLAN STEWART I CREAMER MEDIA REPORTER
Some original-equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are rejecting the oil purification expertise of wear control company Filter Focus to maintain high replacement and components sales volumes, says Filter Focus.
A wear control specialist from the company explains that the Filter Focus microfine filtration system purifies oil to a level below 1 µm and can extend the life of lubricated components by up to 12 times. The system pumps oil out of the tank and it removes the contaminating particles using microfine filtration technology, after which the cleaned oil is pumped back into the tank.
"Not only is the microfine filtration system able to accommodate significant amounts of contamination familiar to the mining industry, but it also beats the accelerated chain of wear growth," says the specialist.
For this reason, some OEMs are hostile towards the advanced filter technology that Filter Focus provides because it would rapidly decrease their repairs and components sales, he explains.
"It appears that the sooner the equipment breaks down after the warranty period, the happier the OEMs are;' the specialist laments.
He further states that even new oil is highly contaminated, yet oil companies have little incentive to incur the costs of cleaning the oil.
Industry has accepted as normal the component damage caused by oil contamination; however, Filter Focus is trying to change this, he emphasises.
The specialist states that a standard spin-on filter, known as an area filter, has capacity to hold 156 g of contamination. The OEM-supplied filter can extract only particles 10 µm and larger in size, which, he argues, is inadequate because 95% of contaminant particles are smaller than 5 µm.
The microfine filter capacities vary but, on average, each filter element can hold up to 5 kg at a filtration efficiency of 1 µm.
In addition, it costs about Rl5 to remove 1g of contamination using a standard filter, while removing 1 g of contamination using the Filter Focus micro fine filter system costs about 29c/g, the specialist explains.
To date, a large number of mines have implemented the technology. Case studies have been conducted at global miner Anglo American's Sishen iron-ore mine, in the Northern Cape, and chrome ore miner Hernic Ferrochromes operation in the North West.
At Sishen mine, the oil used to lubricate the socket liners and the inner eccentric bush of the crushers has barely been replaced for the last ten years after having used Filter Focus's filtration system. New oil is mainly used for spills or top-ups, the specialist notes.
Oil was replaced every month before the system had been installed, with the company saving up to 1.4-million litres over the last ten years, he adds.
The specialist asserts that using oil as efficiently as this not only saves on costs but also exempts firms from the responsibly of disposing of the oil on a regular basis. He cites that the socket liners for the crusher at the Sishen mine, which usually lasted about three months, now last three years, owing to the clean oil that Filter Focus's technology provides. In addition, the inner eccentric bushes that usually lasted about six months now last seven years.