Xstrata Copper's Ernest Henry mine in Cloncurry, North Queensland, has reduced downtime and prevented expensive machine failure through its use of Komatsu Oil Wear Analysis (KOWA) on its haul truck fleet.

29072011ConditionMonitoringHelpsKeepXstrataHauling-(1).jpgKOWA, which is available through Komatsu Australia's Condition Monitoring Service (CMS), involves carrying out sophisticated laboratory tests on oil and other fluid samples taken from equipment, ensuring the owner is aware of what is happening inside each component being tested.Xstrata Copper's 18 Komatsu 830E DC trucks at Ernest Henry are unique, running the only 36:1 electric wheel motors in Australia.

Careful monitoring of the performance and condition of these motors is of major importance to Xstrata, with potential repair costs exceeding $250,000 per motor, according to Alf Bonato, Komatsu's Technical Representative for the site.

"Xstrata was first introduced to KOWA as part of Xstrata's maintenance and repair contract, initiated when the machines were delivered in 8 years ago?," Alf said.

"The wheel motors have a relatively small oil pick-up area and small oil storage compartment, and there are few replacement gear-sets available anywhere in the world.

"That means minimising the risk of significant and costly downtime was priority number-one," he said.Xstrata mine maintenance planner Kari Markham said that the company's fleet of trucks had now passed 65,000 hours each, highlighting the important role CMS has played in maintaining production at the site.

"The pit depth is in excess of 600 m and the trucks move overburden and ore along a steep incline, which means extensive monitoring is required to prevent overheating issues.

"By knowing what's going on (mechanically) with each truck, we can provide feedback to the production department, and initiate additional education of drivers if needed."

She said that following the completion of the mainenance and repair contract, Xstrata has continued to use KOWA, drawing on more than eight years' component history to continue monitoring wheel motor condition and schedule maintenance.

"Alf has always been prompt and efficient with our enquiries, and always available to help train new fitters on-site," Kari said.

"There's a good relationship between Alf and the fitters, and he can relate to our team.

"KOWA is a simple and effective tool that not only prevents major failure, but allows for accurate maintenance planning by providing knowledge of upcoming problem components.

"We'd recommend it to any fleet operator large or small," she said.