A loader is one of the most useful and versatile tools for underground mining projects, however, they require particular care to prevent downtime and ensure reliable service. Like any active underground mining equipment, preventative checks on loaders can save thousands in repairs and maintenance or rebuilds.
Heavy machinery, especially industrial or mining equipment like loaders require consistent maintenance to keep it in working order. Poorly or infrequently maintained large machinery leads to costly breakdown and safety concerns for operators.
Here is a short guide with hints and tips on keeping your loader in top shape.
The chassis should be kept clear of debris and cleaned every day. When you’re working in an environment full of abrasive materials, rocks, and gravel, the loader undercarriage should be cleaned regularly.
Cleaning the chassis prevents failures due to the accumulation of foreign material or overheating from plugged radiators. So it’s important to check the chassis for any loose nuts and bolts and to ensure all parts are in good repair and securely fastened.
Check your tyre pressure, as you will require a higher pressure in the front tyres compared to the back to account for heavy loads in the bucket. Always refer to the mining equipment operator manual and specifications for the tyre.
Ensure the tyres are in good shape, check the tread and sidewalls for wear or foreign material. Check sidewalls for cuts or damage that may cause a failure in operation.
Mining equipment drive train components need constant monitoring, as poorly maintained driveline components could lead to costly repairs.
Power transmissions and gearboxes have many moving parts that need to be checked for lubrication, vibration, and damage to parts.
Vibration from misaligned gears and belts, shock from accidents and poor operator technique, and high temperatures from extended use, friction, poor lubrication and worn parts all contribute to the breakdown of parts in heavy machinery.
- Lubrication – Check that your machine is well lubricated with the manufacturer’s recommendation.
- Build up – Look for signs of excess oil or grease build-up.
- Leaks – Check around oil seals.
- Hoses – Check hydraulic hoses and lines for damage or leaks.
- Electrics – Check the battery, cables, and connections.
- Bucket – Check bucket edges and flip when needed.
- Filters and breathers – Should be inspected and changed regularly.
Remember that operating your wheel loaders in harsh environments such as underground mines warrants more frequent maintenance. But, if your operators are adequately trained they can help limit damage and will be able to handle common maintenance items.
The loader operator should check daily, and it’s a good idea to keep records of all maintenance to help evaluate the loader service life or sell the mining equipment back to a dealer.
To get the best outcome, maintenance, repairs, and rebuilds should be conducted at a well-equipped workshop and backed by an experienced leadership team.