Secrets of Phosphate Mining Success
Most mines and companies constantly look for ways to improve their productivity. In the past, pumps were taken for granted. The wisdom of the day was the bigger the better — engineers typically selected the largest pump that would barely fit the application, replacing parts as needed to keep it running.
This may sound logical and effective, but advances in pump design challenge this old adage. In fact, using the right pump for the job and providing regularly scheduled maintenance can drastically prolong the life of the pump, increase its efficiency, and reduce the total cost of ownership.
You know this to be true for a lot of aspects of your life. Changing the oil in your car and regular dental cleanings are just two examples of how preventive maintenance prevents costly overhauls down the road. Pumps should be approached the same way.
Phosphate mining challenges
In every mining-related industry, pump wear significantly influences mine efficiency. Hard rock mining and oil sands may wear the pumps faster, but phosphate mining still has to endure pump wear on a regular basis. That’s why reliability engineers at the GIW Industries, Inc. Florida REGEN Service Center look at the whole picture to reduce Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of the pump: energy, wear, and performance.
Benefits of regular maintenance
Once you have properly sized and installed the pump for your particular application, the most crucial aspect of pump maintenance is regular adjustment of the impeller’s nose gap, or the clearance between the impeller and the suction liner. During normal pump operation, the nose gap will increase, causing additional wear and decreased pump performance. Without scheduled maintenance, the nose gap grows exponentially, reducing performance and wear life even faster. And so it goes until throughput rates have dropped off significantly or you’re faced with unscheduled downtime due to catastrophic pump failure.
GIW’s Roy Duvall, technical manager at the Florida REGEN Center, confirms that this one bit of pump maintenance cannot be overstated. “Keeping the impeller adjusted properly could increase the wear life of the parts 50%,” Duvall says.
“It also helps with performance of the pump, increasing efficiency and reducing the pump’s net positive suction head,” adds Thomas Wujcik, GIW’s Senior Technical Sales Engineer.
REGEN Service Center
Duvall and Wujcik want GIW customers to know that they can get a lot of help from GIW’s REGEN Service Centers — the customer service necessary to get the most out of your pump is included with a pump purchased from GIW. It’s just part of the GIW difference.
Our reliability engineers can provide regular site visits, starting at the initial installation of a pump. This first visit is especially important as it allows the engineers to establish an output baseline for future reference.
Duvall explains, “You don’t know how to improve if you don’t know where you’re coming from.”
Having GIW present at installation ensures that the baseline monitoring is properly set up and the alignment is correct. These two important steps are the prelude to an effective maintenance program that will prolong the life and effectiveness of the pump.
GIW’s reliability engineers also perform system analyses, making sure the pump matches the system’s application, which is critical for controlling wear. Additionally, they work with mine managers and engineers, letting them know about recent design improvements to hydraulics and essential parts that can further improve efficiency.
The GIW secret
One thing really sets GIW apart in its service to phosphate mines: Working with customers is our engineers’ favorite part of the job.
Wujcik says, “Taking care of customers is the best part of the job. We want to keep them happy.” He emphasizes that GIW wants its customers to stay as productive and efficient as possible, so we develop ongoing relationships with them. We don’t simply sell the pump and move on. Customer’s buy our product because we provide the service needed to efficiently operate their equipment.
“You must develop a relationship and build the trust first,” explains Duvall.
Our people take our customers’ needs seriously, so we constantly try to inform them of new advances that will make their operations more efficient. The people at the REGEN centers are significantly more than parts salesmen — they are valuable local resources.
“We’re in it for the long haul,” Duvall says.