Preventive screen maintenance for peak productivity

By |  February 27, 2024


As the saying goes, a watched pot never boils. Rather than idling by the stove, gathering the meal’s ingredients first can yield a bubbling pot upon your return and enhance efficiency.

While the idea of leaving things alone applies to many activities beyond cooking, it is not an effective approach to the screening process within mineral processing environments. Undetected issues with vibrating screens can allow out-of-spec material to pass through and cause further damage over time. Plus, any downtime for repairs can lead to production losses.

It’s not viable for operators to monitor vibrating screens all the time. Fortunately, using a condition monitoring system takes this task off their hands, ensuring screens stay healthy without constant attention.

Proactive performance over reactionary repairs

Every mineral production plant faces the challenges of maintaining the uptime of its equipment while reducing the cost of corrective maintenance. The information that condition monitoring systems provide can therefore be an invaluable asset to quarry and mine managers.

Still, not all systems are made equally.

Most of the available options on the market are reactive and unable to prevent unscheduled shutdowns and costly reduction in output. This is typically because these systems send only very specific information and, often, in a format that is difficult for operators to understand.

Among the condition monitoring systems that stand out are those using modern algorithms and artificial intelligence to monitor the health of vibrating screens. These systems use their advanced technology to forecast the equipment’s dynamic condition, as well as predict necessary maintenance and provide critical downtime alerts.

These systems can identify common types of failures such as lubrication faults, contamination and bearing damage, as well as loose or broken structural parts of the vibrating screen body. Over time, a condition monitoring system should get “smarter” by using its AI to improve the accuracy of the alerts it sends.

Understandably, purchasing any monitoring system can seem like an additional cost on top of other operational expenses. A well-chosen condition monitoring system, however, almost eliminates unscheduled downtime, significantly reduces corrective maintenance hours and, consequently, increases equipment performance.

Typically, most operations encounter an average of one significant issue each month, with a total of 10 to 12 per year. In some cases, just one critical alert effectively pays for three years of a condition monitoring system.

And when you consider that certain condition monitoring systems prevent critical failure for just $22 a day, it’s hard to refute that the investment is worth the reward.

Diagramming diagnostics

Diagnostics involve impact tests, vibration analysis and condition monitoring. Photo: Haver & Boecker Niagara

Diagnostics involve impact tests, vibration analysis and condition monitoring. Photo: Haver & Boecker Niagara

While monitoring systems for vibrating screen bearings are common in the market, more advanced options offer 24/7 equipment condition monitoring through permanently installed sensors on both the bearings and the body of the vibrating screens.

Although the sensor configurations are customizable, the typical setup involves four body sensors placed on each corner of the vibrating screen with the addition of two bearing sensors. For larger screens, eight body sensors and six bearing sensors are used.

In just one day, it is possible to install sensors on multiple machines in case of a plant stoppage. Because receptors do not require the screen to be stopped, they can be installed any time. Condition monitoring can be installed at any point on the equipment, but the sooner the better is the optional time for quick dividends from the service.

Once installed, condition monitoring quickly gets to work scanning a vibrating screen for deviations that may lead to damage or loss of production. From there, AI is used to predict the dynamic conditions of the equipment.

For many operations, maintenance time is optimized by noting probable causes of potential failure of the equipment such as loss of stiffness or an uneven spread of material feed on the screen media. Additionally, customer focus is central to high-quality condition monitoring by providing easily interpreted information every five minutes.

Not only can information be provided continuously, but it can be accessed online and remotely. While these systems are compatible with any Wi-Fi network, integrating data via cable or application programming interface is a good backup in case of any outages.

Other benefits of high-tier condition monitoring systems are quality hardware like sensors and battery life of more than two years.

Condition monitoring is most effective for 24/7 operations, as well as those processing high-priced materials, working in aggressive or hazardous environments, or ones with a small maintenance team.

Related: How to successfully set up vibrating screens

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