Tips to prolong the life of your screen media

By |  August 13, 2020
Screen maintenance Photo: Major

Unplanned maintenance repairs can be costly and take a lot of time to fix. Taking time during scheduled routine maintenance checks can help catch screen media issues before a problem grows. Photo: Major

It doesn’t matter how much aggregate is produced in a day if it is contaminated or not sized correctly.

Though screen media is a minor cost when compared to larger equipment in a quarry, it is a crucial part of any operation’s profit machine. One unexpected break and thousands of dollars can be lost to downtime and repairs.

For that reason, aggregate producers need to put a large focus on proper screen media maintenance, including selection, installation, preventive maintenance and storage. Best practices result in fewer changeouts, less unplanned downtime, higher quality product and a more efficient operation.

How to choose

Where it used to be as simple as selecting the right size of woven wire for their material, producers now face a choice of dozens of different styles and brands of screen media.

While it may be tempting to think a cheap, off-the-shelf option will get the job done, plant managers should take a moment to think about what the wrong choice could mean.

Not choosing a screen media suitable for an individual application could mean unexpected breaks, ruined piles from contamination and costly downtime. So work with a screen media manufacturer to figure out which media is the best fit for each area of the screen deck. In some cases, a heavy-duty option may be necessary to take the punch at the feed end, followed by something durable but with more open area.

In many applications, high-vibration wire screens are suitable for the entire deck. A producer could choose higher gauge or double wire screens for high tonnages at the feed end and increase open area for the rest of the deck to boost stratification.

Sometimes referred to as self-cleaning screen media, this media can be especially beneficial in an application with a lot of fines and clay deposits – or where an operation has had difficulty with contaminated piles caused by too much organic material.

Don’t slack on installation

Two workers screen maintenance Photo: Major

Prolonged screen life starts with proper Installation. Consider looking into screen media installation and maintenance training seminars to prolong screen life. Photo: Major

It’s not uncommon for operations to send the newest crew member to complete the undesirable job of screen media changeouts, but the task truly benefits from someone with a bit more experience. The best screen media in the world won’t do any good if it’s installed incorrectly.

This could mean improper tensioning or even installing it the wrong way around – something that happens more often than it should. The resulting issues can include accelerated wear, panels broken too soon and overall inefficient screening.

While specifics vary depending on the type of media, there are a few overall best practices for screen media installation. To start, clean and check the condition of components that touch the screen, make sure the screen panel matches what was ordered, and install the screen based on instructions from the manufacturer.

During installation, make sure each support bar touches the screen and that the tension matches manufacturer recommendations. Some manufacturers include a “do’s and don’ts” sheet with screen media to make the process easier.

Also, crews should make sure they are following safety procedures, including having more than one person working on the installation and using the lockout procedure to prevent the equipment from being turned on while personnel are working on it.

Consider looking into screen media installation and maintenance training seminars to prolong screen life. Manufacturers often offer service either through site visits or via a dealer. The benefit will be a crew with shared knowledge of proper installation that could be worth thousands of dollars in unexpected downtime prevention.

Keep your eye on the screen

Once installed correctly, it’s best to check screen media at least once a week to make sure tensioning is proper and the panels aren’t showing unusual signs of wear. A little bit of extra time during routine preventive maintenance can have a noticeably positive effect on profits.

While checking tension, also look at the clamp bars themselves. Check for wear, corrosion or cracks, and examine the rail for straightness, which is necessary for even tension. Examine all nuts and bolts and replace any that are worn, stripped or corroded. Shaker bolt threads with excessive buildup can be cleaned by running them across a wire wheel.

Also, replace clamp bars that are thin or caving in to greatly improve screen media wear life, and be sure to choose OEM versions for proper operation.

Screen box diagnostics systems can help prolong media life and improve screening by checking and monitoring a machine’s health. Use a vibration analysis system to inspect the machine for balance and excessive vibration, which can lead to screen media failure or unintended machine wear. Vibration analysis systems are becoming easier to use, with some of the newest tech using only a single sensor with no wires while working quickly with a smartphone.

When it’s time to remove and replace the screen media, pull off the bar rail or crown liners and inspect the steel bar rails for wear or warping. The recommended best practice is to replace the bar rail liners during each changeout for longer screen media life.

Storage matters

screen maintenance Photo: Major

Selecting the right screen media from the beginning is crucial for optimal screening. Not choosing a screen media suitable for an individual application could mean unexpected breaks, ruined piles from contamination and overall expensive downtime. Photo: Major

Just like it’s best to keep the expensive new car out of the harsh elements to lengthen its lifespan, so, too, should screen media be kept out of harm’s way to maximize its effectiveness. Leaving the media in a pile near the screen box structure is convenient, but this can lead to wires rusting – which can reduce durability.

Another common issue is screen media on the ground simply being run over by heavy equipment. Wire screens also get damaged when stored standing upright.

The best solution to prevent damage during storage is a simple rack that allows crews to hang the screens from hooks. This prevents damage and improves accessibility by allowing personnel to find the right screen without sifting through a pile of panels.

Also, keep extra panels covered and in a well-marked area out of the path of heavy equipment.

Screen on

Though minor compared to the rest of an aggregate or mining operation, producers benefit from staying proactive with screen media maintenance.

From choosing the right media for the job and installing it correctly, to proper storage and preventive maintenance, treating screen panels right can mean less downtime, fewer headaches and more profits.

Lars Bräunling is director of product technology at Major.

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