What caring for screens ultimately means

By |  December 30, 2021
William Jones is the field service manager at Conn-Weld Industries. Photo: Conn-Weld

William Jones is the field service manager at Conn-Weld Industries. Photo: Conn-Weld

The typical aggregate operation today is a lot different than the one William Jones grew accustomed to 23 years ago. 

Plants back then were smaller, Jones says, and they had more personnel working on them. Now, however, Jones says the typical producer has a larger plant and fewer people, presenting fundamental challenges with plant upkeep.

“A lot of maintenance issues get pushed to the side,” says Jones, the field service manager at Conn-Weld Industries who’s spent 23 of his 24 years at the company working on a service crew. “Today, they’re going to deal with the bigger issues first and work their way backward. That’s where maintenance has taken a back seat.”

Because Jones is passionate about his craft, he regularly reaches out to producers and their personnel to educate them about effective screening equipment maintenance. Jones leads on-site seminars for producers throughout the year, delivering classroom-style instruction along with plant walkthroughs where he can answer site-specific questions about screening maintenance.

“Winter presents a great opportunity for maintenance,” Jones says. “I have a lot of customers calling in to say they’re going to be shutting down soon and they’ll do the seminars.”

Tips for winter

Jones shares a number of pointers as he visits with producers. With winter temperatures already here in the U.S. and Canada, he stresses a few best practices as plants are shut down for the season.

“I always stress when they shut down to go in and do their screen inspection,” Jones says. “Look for any cracks. Check their side plates. Look at any wear issues. If screens are going to be down and they’re going to have a crew there, do a thorough inspection or call us and we can tell them what they need to work on.”

The upkeep process through the winter doesn’t necessarily stop there, though. 

“Another thing I emphasize, if the weather permits, is to jog the screen every chance they get,” Jones says. “That means there’s no material on it. You’re going to start it up and let it run for five to 10 minutes. You’re lubricating your bearings and getting oil moving through the system so it doesn’t sit idle all the time.”

Producers will experience the benefits of jogging a screen come springtime, he adds.

“If they can start up twice a month and run for five to 10 minutes, that would really increase the bearing life and help that drive,” Jones says. “When they get ready for their spring startup, drain the oil, do your oil change right then and it’ll run through the year. We want to do that oil change, too, because of any condensation that may emulsify within that oil.”

Jones says inspecting the drain plug during an oil change is also worthwhile.

“Look for anything built up on that plug,” he says. “If you see a little bit of metal, get an analysis. I have some customers who are ready to change their drive out as soon as they get the iron content around 200 [ppm]. The amount of time they’re down to do a rebuild is around 40 percent less than what they would [lose] in a catastrophic event where we have to change all of the internals.”

Using the right oil is essential, too – even as simple as that sounds.

“I’ll have customers send me an oil analysis report,” Jones says. “I’ll get one report one month that shows the customer using the EP4 oil we recommend in our drives, but then another month it’s EP5. Then another month there’s hydraulic oil in it. They just tell someone to ‘go change the oil.’”

Attention to detail, Jones adds, ultimately impacts an operation’s “big picture.”

“The key thing is getting everybody to do the walk-around,” he says. “When you work in a plant, you learn sounds. When you start hearing something different, it’s time to dig into it.”

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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