Wear Protection Systems Deliver Longer Life & Improved Material Throughput for Equipment used in Dry Bulk Handling
- 31 May 2011
- Product News
The increasing global demand for dry bulk materials means that the infrastructure to facilitate movement of these commodities to world markets is under pressure like never before. As a result, port and terminal operators are investing heavily to keep up with the throughput tonnages required, equipping themselves with plant and equipment that provides the flexibility and wear-life to handle the widest range of bulk solid materials, continuously, over extended operating periods.
The handling of dry bulk cargoes is a competitive business, and this undoubtedly impacts on the scale of investment decisions taken regarding infrastructure developments. In common with other market sectors, the lowest cost tender is often ‘king’: the supplying OEM having to achieve the lowest installed cost for new equipment, in order to comply with overall project costs. However, this short term, lowest cost approach is invariably at odds with the needs of the personnel who run the terminal. They are looking for minimised whole life costs from employing equipment with all the necessary features to ensure continuous reliability and longer operating life under extremely demanding operating pressures.
One particular area where the ‘Low Cost’ versus ‘Whole Life’ approach comes into conflict in dry bulk handling is wear protection. From the first day equipment goes into service, its life is reduced progressively by the effects of wear, due to the volumes of materials being handled. Minerals such as coal, iron ore and pellets are traditionally seen as abrasive materials and are handled in quantities of millions- of- tonnes per year by loading facilities, shipping companies and import terminals alike. All of these organisations incur significant — but it must be said, avoidable — costs from the significant amount of wear that takes place during the handling/shipping process. As a result, it makes economic sense to protect against this wear.
Wear protection can be employed at any time in the life of a dry bulk handling system. However, if a system is designed with wear protection from its conception, then overall equipment costs can usually be reduced, as the system chosen to protect the equipment can often remove the requirement to manufacture components using heavier grades of material. In addition, because high conveying speeds and abrasive materials cause wear of varying intensity at different points in dry bulk handling systems, it is often the case that protection need only be applied to areas of plant that are most vulnerable to wear, further reducing upfront costs and improving ROI for the system user.
Kingfisher, a specialist in wear protection across all types of industries — bulk and materials handling, process, power generation, water treatment, steel and extraction — has calculated that, on average, users of its wear protection systems benefit by a factor of 5 times their initial outlay, with many installations providing wear life of up to 20-years following appropriate wear treatment. Kingfisher’s experience with dry bulk handling system clearly shows that it is far more profitable for ports/terminals to invest in best practice from the inception of a project, rather than having to provide regular maintenance and repair of equipment at regular intervals due to problems associated with wear and erosion. Reduced maintenance means reduced risk, reduced cost and more production uptime over longer periods — all of which are critically important to improve the efficiencies and ROI of companies in competitive markets.
Using a combination of ceramic, metallic and polymer lining systems, Kingfisher has had overwhelming success in protecting equipment and extending the service life of dry bulk plant that, without intervention, would otherwise have been designated as scrap. In many instances, the benefits of protecting plant are threefold: in addition to protecting against wear, the low friction nature of the lining material reduces energy usage and allows a greater volume of material to be loaded or discharged, resulting in reduced demurrage costs for port side facilities and limiting the duration self unloading vessel spend discharging cargo.
The many economic benefits of Kingfisher’s wear protection systems were proven recently at a major UK bulk material import terminal, where the company’s K-Alox High Alumina Ceramic lining was used to solve a problem of premature equipment failure — due to wear — on an unloading and conveying system.
The cause of the wear problem was sub-bituminous coal, in sizes up to 100mm - and with a bulk density of 0.80 tpcm. Highly abrasive, the coal is conveyed at 5500TPH, with a peak throughput of up to 1,000,000 tons per month.
The unloading and conveying system was initially protected with Chrome Carbide hard faced weld deposit overlay. However, this proved to be inadequate for the task, delivering a barely minimal service life between 9 and 12 months before failures began to occur. Kingfisher was called in to survey the problem and provide a solution.
Kingfisher designed, manufactured and installed a replacement system using K-ALOX, its high performance ceramic lining system, and is only surpassed by diamond being rated as 10 on the scale. It is ideally suited to counter both impact and sliding abrasion and erosion within pipes, cyclones, chutes, mixers, mills, separators, conveying systems and other equipment used in bulk solids handling.
Kingfisher’s system was installed by the company’s own highly- trained site engineers, providing the bulk import terminal with a minimum of 10- years service, eliminating future costly and disruptive requirements for interim maintenance.
Kingfisher has produced a graphic to highlight the benefits of its Whole Life Cost argument . The graphic compares the ongoing costs associated with equipment and installations that do not benefit from wear protection, with the one-off (i.e. purchase) costs of enhanced protection, highlighting the continuous operational gains of the latter investment strategy.