Why regular fan servicing and maintenance is essential for the quarrying industry
Quarrying, just like other bulk and solids handling industries, can produce large volumes of dust, and every business must monitor the level of dust that anyone within or outside its premises is exposed to. Quarry workers are at obvious risk and employers are required by law to ensure that adequate ventilation systems are in place and well maintained and serviced.
Rock grinding and crushing machinery used in quarries can produce respirable crystalline silica (RCS), which can cause the lung disease silicosis. The officially acceptable level of RCS exposure in the workplace was reduced last year, so it is vital that quarries continue to maintain and service industrial fans used for ventilation and dust extraction.
Companies, who fail to keep up with regular maintenance and servicing requirements soon learn that the old adage ‘prevention is better than cure’ is as accurate as ever. After all, why would a company want to neglect a piece of equipment that is critical to the smooth running of the business?
Depending on its application, a fan used in the quarrying industry can have a life span of more than 40 years, during which time numerous potential problems can occur. For example, dirt and dust can collect on the impeller throwing the fan out of balance, and the bearings and motor can fail. Should a fan breakdown unexpectedly, as well as the danger from critical failure of rotating parts, there is the additional cost associated with repair and lost production time.
Annual fan service and maintenance is a vital plant maintenance function in the quarrying industry. Often carried out during planned shutdown periods, fan maintenance can be carried out quickly and efficiently and does not have to interfere with production. It is surprising how quickly things can start to go wrong if regular servicing is not maintained.
Another important reason to keep up with the maintenance programme is that a badly maintained fan can be noisy and can also vibrate, which creates an uncomfortable working environment for employees and a situation that could potentially breech noise and vibration legislation.
What does a typical service involve?
Regular on-site maintenance and servicing by experienced engineers can help to detect and prevent faults on all types of industrial fans, reducing the risk of breakdown, saving time and money, as well as ensuring the life expectancy of the machine is maintained.
A typical fan service takes a full day and normally involves:
- inspecting the overall condition of the fan
- inspecting the fan bearings for wear and re-greasing or replacing where necessary
- inspecting, adjusting or replacing the drive belt(s) on a belt-driven fan
- inspecting and checking the alignment of the couplings on direct-coupled fans and replacing the couplings if necessary
- removing the access doors and checking the impeller for wear or damage
- test running the fan and monitoring vibration levels.
In order to maintain a competitive edge, more and more companies from a wide range of industries are realizing the real and tangible benefits of having a contract maintenance and repair service for their fans, allowing them to maintain and maximize production performance levels at all times.
A regularly serviced and well maintained fan is, by definition, an energy-efficient piece of machinery. Companies using industrial fans can also achieve significant energy savings by having high-efficiency electric motors fitted when the regular service is carried out.
Huddersfield-based Woodcock & Wilson have seen significant growth in their fan servicing operations during 2007, as a growing number of companies have begun to realize that having their fans maintained and serviced regularly can also prevent serious health and safety issues, is better for the environment and saves time and money.
As leaders in this field, the company says its engineers understand the construction principles of fan manufacturing and design, allowing them to draw on their in-house expertise when inspecting fans on site – a crucial factor when fault-finding and problem-solving.
Woodcock & Wilson Ltd, Airstream Works, Blackmoorfoot Road, Crosland Hill Huddersfield, W. Yorks HD4 7AA; tel: (01484) 462777; fax: (01484) 462888; email: [email protected]