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Pay Attention to Proper Filtration — and Profit From It


Mining is an industry that deals in, and appreciates, large numbers. Big mines, for example, routinely rack up hefty equipment purchase, operating and maintenance costs, and hopefully, sizable payoffs in productivity from those investments and expenses. But small numbers can work in a mine operator’s favor as well, particularly when it comes to filtration of vital engine fluids such as fuel and oil, where the objective is to have the lowest possible level of dirt particles and other contaminants circulating in high-tech engine fuel and oil delivery systems.

The right combination of engine protection products can extend engine service intervals by up to four times, according to recent tests conducted by Cummins.
The right combination of engine protection products can extend engine service intervals by up to four times, according to recent tests conducted by Cummins.

Newer high-horsepower engines are particularly unforgiving when it comes to the size and amount of dirt contamination they’ll tolerate before major problems begin to occur in pumps, injectors, pistons, rings and liners. Cummins Filtration, a wholly owned business unit of engine builder Cummins Inc., has some interesting numbers of its own to offer in this regard:

  • When it comes to air filtration, a rule of thumb is that approximately 1 gram of dust per rated horsepower is sufficient to destroy an engine.
  • It’s estimated that 50% of the worldwide diesel fuel supply does not meet original equipment manufacturers specifications for cleanliness specified for late-generation, high-horsepower engines.
  • Any particle larger than 4 microns in size is capable of causing wear to engine components.
  • Approximately 75% of the contaminants collected in a used engine oil filter are due to heat and chemical interactions within the engine.

 

“Large engines need the cleanest fuel, oil, coolant and plenty of air flow. Traditional filter technology can limit lubricant and air flow as they quickly become plugged. This means loss of horsepower, decreased fuel economy, more frequent filter replacements and more costly equipment downtime,” said Gary Ross, director of global high-horsepower business for Cummins Filtration.

Cummins’ main message to equipment fleet owners and operators at MINExpo held in September was that major gains in component protection and service life are possible with the products and services offered as part of its “holistic” approach toward engine health. In support of this approach, the company recently launched several initiatives aimed at reducing engine TCO (total cost of ownership) and streamlining engine health monitoring and diagnosis. Among them is its Data Enabled Mining Solution: a new prognostic capability that allows Cummins to monitor engines and deliver accurate, real-time operating information, enabling a quicker and more focused response to potential issues. Another TCO initiative, called Fuel Saver, is currently available for QSK50 and QSK60 engines, with plans to extend it to other high-horsepower engines. It offers a number of options to reduce mine truck fuel consumption by 1%-5% annually.

In the filtration sector, the number that Cummins wanted everyone to remember after MINExpo was 1,000 — its new standard for hours between service intervals on engines protected by its Fleetguard filter products and extended service plan.

According to the company, the use of these products in combination can extend engine service intervals by up to four times, reducing annual maintenance hours by as much as 50%. It recently conducted a 12-month Filtration Optimization Program in cooperation with Komatsu at Anglo American’s Dawson coal mine in Queensland, Australia, to demonstrate the higher levels of protection and lower TCO that its Fleetguard filters provide for mine operators.

A field test at the mine, involving a Komatsu 830E haul truck powered by a Cummins QSK60 HPI engine, confirmed a cost savings of 60% and a service life of 1,000 hours minimum, through reduced filter and oil consumption alone. When applied to Dawson’s fleet of 14 Komatsu 830E trucks, savings in excess of $220,000 per year would be realized while reducing service hours by 74%.
In the test, filters installed on the truck included Dual Tall Industrial Pro fuel/water separators with NanoNet media; a SpiraTec rotor for the Cummins Eliminator centrifugal oil filtration system; NanoForce air filters; and ES (extended service) water filters. The Dual Tall Industrial Pro units are part of a line that has been upgraded with design enhancements such as water-in-fuel sensors, improved drain valves, electric priming pumps, more accessible priming ports, lighter cast aluminum construction and low restriction check valves. They offer benefits that include:

 

 

  • Performance that meets or exceeds OEM efficiency requirements as well as Tier 4 emissions requirements;
  • High contaminant removal efficiency (99.9% efficiency or ß1000 at 7 micron);
  • The option for an easier, hassle-free filter change with five times more capacity than the preceding Industrial Pro model; and
  • The ability to see when not to change the filter with a patented “Seeing is Believing” clear cover.

Cummins also noted that its SpiraTec technology collects soot in engine lube oil up to 2.5 times faster than conventional empty rotor designs, which can translate into a reduction in wear rates to key engine components and in the amount of soot the oil must keep in suspension.

Data loggers and pressure transducers were fitted to the truck’s air, fuel and lube oil filtration systems. Pressure readings along with truck operational data from the engine ECM (load factors, fuel consumption, etc.) were downloaded at five-second intervals for live monitoring by Cummins engineers. An alarm system, upon detecting any potential issues, notified on-site personnel. Both laboratory and on-site analysis of the filters, fuel and oil was also carried out to confirm media integrity, oil stability and fuel cleanliness levels.

Test results, showing historical and new recommended service intervals, are shown in the accompanying table.

TABLE 1 - TEST RESULTS OF FLEETGUARD FILTRATION PROJECT AT COAL MINE

Looking at the results of this test and others, Warren Smith, global mining program manager for Cummins Filtration, believes a new era has arrived in maintenance cost reduction through use of new technology and products. Smith said trials around the world have proved that by using oil analysis, data loggers with telematics support and visual inspections, service intervals for new technology filters can extended to suit the equipment and environment on each customer’s site.

“Some of these trials have delivered results beyond our 1,000-hour target and the customers have seen the benefit in a significant reduction in parts cost and maintenance time,” Smith noted.