At Maules Creek Mine in New South Wales, data captured by Titan 3330 payload management system was used to design a bucket, lip, and GET combination that improved productivity by up to 8% through reduced fill times and increased bucket payload. (Photo: CR Powered by Epiroc)

The newest GET systems and solutions have minimal labor requirements and offer maximal life 

By Jesse Morton, Technical Writer

The newest ground-engaging tool (GET) systems and related wear parts are designed to outlast predecessor systems, which is of critical value to remote mines and those facing staffing shortages. They also offer efficiency and productivity gains. The top suppliers boast of support services that give timely assistance. They said that adoption represents a small change that yields measurable results.

Condition Monitoring Helps Planning

CR Powered by Epiroc reported it offers new and proven digital tools for condition monitoring of GET that can help miners attain critical goals and answer trending challenges.

“For example, we are refining and testing a new tool we’re calling X-Calibre for condition monitoring of GET,” said Paul Smith, global product manager. X-Calibre offers data analysis and gives predictive maintenance insights.

“Our site account managers use the app to conduct inspections and store the data,” Smith said. “Once an inspection is completed, the app compiles a report and shares it, before we even leave the site,” he said. “This gives the maintenance teams immediate, actionable information.”

The benefits offered include increased productivity and the capability to better handle challenges posed by constraints to the labor market and to the supply chain.

X-Calibre aids in maintenance planning that helps prevent unplanned downtime. The resulting increased availability helps improve productivity.

“The levers for productivity are machine availability, dig rate and optimizing haul capacity, and pulling these levers is how we help our customers achieve productivity goals,” Smith said. “Titan 3330 payload monitoring and Orion Data Analytics, our reporting platform, provide tools for excavator and wheel loader operators to reach their performance potential to achieve maximum productivity of the loading machines,” he said. “With labor market constraints and supply chain volatility, X-Calibre makes sure we avoid serious downtime that has significant impact on productivity.”

Data analysis by X-Calibre can be used to ensure that the maintenance tasks assigned are strictly the ones required. That increases efficiency of personnel utilization, which is critical when staffing is limited.

“Maintenance crews are always busy and need clear priority on preventive maintenance requirements,” Smith said. “X-Calibre flags parts that must be changed out during the current maintenance event and greenlights the other components if their life is predicted to reach the next maintenance event, so time is only spent where it’s absolutely needed,” he said. “Diligent preventive maintenance schedules avoid catastrophic failures that can lead to more labor-intensive repairs.”

Repairs can be disruptive if parts are not immediately available. X-Caliber can provide information that can be used to manage inventory proactively.

“Our digital solutions are geared to collect data with a holistic view, but then to focus where the biggest potential gains or highest risks might be present,” Smith said. “X-Calibre lets us know when the customers wear rate and consumption of GET might be higher than expected,” he said. “Supply lead times are longer and more volatile than they used to be, so forward planning is critical.”

Data-driven forward planning can help identify possible future shortages and solutions. “Using wear rates to predict what our inventory levels will look like month to month with a forward view for this year and next, we can adjust our supply forecast planning and flag immediately if we might have a shortage of parts in 6 months’ time to review our purchasing and inventory levels now,” Smith said. “Basically, before the customer runs out of parts and needs to park a machine, we’re already building a contingency to protect them.”

Sharp teeth supplied to Glencore’s Mangoola mine improved bucket efficiency and helped support the miner’s Beyond Blue Bitumen initiative. (Photo: CR Powered by Epiroc)

CR Powered by Epiroc field teams advise on plans and can help customers predict and troubleshoot supply chain problems before they become urgent. “Our field teams all across the globe are on site regularly, monitoring the condition and performance of our products,” Smith said.

“They make sure day-in, day-out our customers have parts available for their machines and those parts are meeting the customer’s needs,” he said. “Their close collaboration with our supply teams meant we maintained levels of DIFOT (delivered in-full, on time) throughout COVID that any company would be proud of, let alone one that makes heavy mining equipment and is dealing with the manufacturing and logistics challenges that come with those types of products.”

The combination of advanced data analysis with proactive field services supplied by CR Powered by Epiroc at Maules Creek Mine in New South Wales resulted in improved productivity, wear life and maintenance planning. The miner was experiencing sub-optimal filling from its 800-metric ton (mt) excavators. “After careful, in-depth analysis of the bucket, lip, and GET performance using our Titan 3330 payload management system, CR Powered by Epiroc was able to collect performance data and work with a third party to design a bucket, lip, and GET combination that has significantly improved productivity by 6% to 8% through reduced fill times and increased bucket payload,” Smith said.

The combination included the new SR7046 Stingray cast lip, “designed to deliver a smoother material entrance and better penetration for an optimum payload that greatly contributes to the uplift in productivity.”

The bucket and lip also provided a 14% reduction in “fill energy” per mt, reducing wear on the front end of the excavator. “Our recent collaboration with Maules Creek Mine is a great example of product development resulting in increased payload and reduced emissions,” Smith said.

It is also a great example of Titan being used to improve performance, and to design better GET. “Digital solutions that collect performance data such as Titan 3330 payload management provide real-time operator feedback and operator scorecards provide efficiency improvement to ensure each swing of an excavator is on target and each truck is on target,” Smith said.

“These digital solutions are also helping us design better GET products that can reduce fuel burn for direct CO2e reductions,” he said. “For some customers, Titan has increased operational productivity by between 6.6% and 22%.”

A Queensland miner used Titan to get the best possible performance from a new Hitachi EX5600 backhoe. “The customer couldn’t rely on weights provided by truck payload systems, due to unreliable feedback when the truck is on uneven ground,” Smith said. “CR Powered by Epiroc installed Titan on the machine and rolled out comprehensive operator training,” he said. “The result was a 26% increase in instantaneous productivity, with 11% fewer truck underloads and a 4% decrease in truck payload standard deviation.”

Those results are the fruits of highly focused research and development into digital solutions that address strictly the core needs of customers.

“Technology adoption is a hot topic,” Smith said. “The market is saturated with digital solutions to fix problems,” he said. “Ours are aimed at solving the foundational challenges miners face daily, keeping machines running, making them as productive as possible, and helping miners achieve their reduced emissions goals.”

The new MA3 adapter system, which can be used with four tip models, delivers adapter replacements in minutes. (Photo: Caterpillar)

Loader GET Cuts Install Time

Caterpillar reported the new MA3 adapter system, which features the Cat Advansys 220 nose design, radically reduces installation time and costs. For 994-series wheel loaders, the “MA3 delivers adapter replacements in minutes verses hours for large wheel loader operations that value mechanical adapter retention over welding,” Caterpillar said.

The MA3 edge assembly features the Cat Butterbead Weld Prep. The static beam weldments give better stabilization and help “reduce installation times up to 50%.”

The base edge assembly securely positions the adapter. Precision-machined adapter positions offer a sizeable thrust area and reduce base edge assembly deformation and movement.

“Static beams reduce the axial vertical adapter movement when the adapter is under load,” the company said. “This reduces the stress that is generated in the adapter legs, which can create a breakage failure mode,” it said. “Static beams reduce bending stresses in the adapter legs to deliver reliability in extreme conditions.”

Center positions have vertical retention placement. Corners are horizontally retained by straddling the bucket sidebar.

The base assembly of the system is locked in place by the new Cat PowerWedge, which, the company said, gives superior pullback force. The positive retention system balances pull-back to clamping force.

The MA3 can be used with four-tip models.

XAR Tips are for high-impact high-wear applications. Compared to general-purpose tips, “XAR designs add up to 50% more wear material under the pocket” and have a “sharper penetrating angle,” Caterpillar said.

Heavy Abrasion tips offer 11% more usable wear material than K Series units. They also feature a tip shape that stays sharp. “These tips are available with Abrasion Resistant Material,” Caterpillar said.

Heavy Penetration tips offer 6% more usable wear material than K Series units, and a tip that stays sharp in the most severe applications.

The fundamental General Purpose tips are symmetrical and the basis of the above models.

The MA3 is also for use with Cat CapSure retention shrouds that can be installed in minutes with a simple square drive and with minimal downtime. The “1/2 Arrow designs offer bolted joint reliability and low-monitoring requirements,” Caterpillar said. They are ideally used “when little top-side edge wear is observed.”

Cat Advansys GET offer hammerless systems for simplified installation and easy retrofitting. The systems are designed for demanding, high-production applications, the company said. “Cat Advansys GET is available in a wide range of sizes and can be adapted to fit any bucket in the industry.”

The GET Z system is hammerless, for easier change-outs, and is compatible with four tooth models. (Photo: Liebherr)

Excavator GET Improves Productivity

Liebherr reported its GET Z system can help a miner increase productivity and better field challenges posed by disruptions to the supply chain and labor market.

For R 9100 to R 9400 mining excavators, the system is available in different sizes and “in four profiles to cover an extensive range of applications, from well-blasted material to very hard ground,” Liebherr said.

CL-Profile-series teeth, including the CLH-Profile and the CLI-Profile, have an elongated tip and a sharp cutting edge for “very good penetration properties,” Liebherr said. “The long-drawn pointed shape provides a sharp cutting edge for superior penetration in rocky and blasted material.”

The CL Tooth is for soft to medium materials that are abrasive, meaning hard, loamy sand; medium-hard clay; and fine to medium gravel. The CLH Tooth is for soft to medium materials that are highly abrasive. The CLI Tooth is for hard materials that are abrasive.

The P-Profile unit has a pointed shape for optimal penetration in “very hard and frozen ground and rock that is difficult to loosen,” including solidified, unweathered clay-slate; and heavy ores with medium and weak fracturing.

The Liebherr Z Tooth System is also designed to need minimal labor for installation and replacement. It consists of tooth adapter, tooth, securing bolt, a protective plug, and a small hand tool to work the bolt. The result is “a truly hammerless system,” Liebherr said.

That translates to simplified, streamlined serviceability.

“With its unique hammerless locking system, the replacement of the teeth and the wing shrouds is simple,” Liebherr said. “The securing pin, the tooth, and the adapter are quickly locked by a 90° tool maneuver,” it said. “A single person can effortlessly release and remove the tooth without the need for brute force.”

The same locking system is used for the teeth, shrouds and wing shrouds. “In addition the wear cap does not require any locking system as it is slipped on the adaptor and locked by the tooth,” Liebherr said.

By reducing complexity and manpower requirements, the system increases uptime, and “increases the safety of maintenance operations,” said Johan Klingenstein, sales support engineer, GET. “All that is required to replace the tooth is one simple tool.”

Increased uptime means increased productivity. “The Liebherr GET Z system has been developed to deliver higher bucket penetration and higher fill factor,” he said. “And the self-sharpening design guarantees optimum penetration in every application.”

The self-sharpening capability also contributes to the longevity of the teeth, which means they don’t have to be replaced as often. “The Liebherr GET Z system offers the best lifetime possible, mitigating the stock and therefore positively impacting the supply chain,” Klingenstein said.

“The aim of the Liebherr GET Z system is to offer the best lifetime possible, which minimizes the quantity of GET consumed, therefore providing a more sustainable approach,” he said. “In addition, to optimize the wear life and reduce parts inventory, Liebherr has designed symmetrical wing shrouds and corner wear caps that are fully interchangeable from top to bottom, right to left.”

Benefits also include better supply chain coordination, managed by the Liebherr support network.

“With a truly global network composed of Liebherr affiliates and exclusive representatives, Liebherr’s worldwide presence enables the highest level of service support irrespective of equipment location,” Klingenstein said.

“Using advanced forecasting techniques and in-depth knowledge of regional populations, Liebherr service centers ensure that customers are always well looked after,” he said. “Moreover, by ensuring a permanent dialogue with each machine owner, Liebherr provides tailored assistance to customer-specific projects and site requirements.”

Kprime tooth system offers 15% better penetration over previous models and extended periods between tooth changes. (Photo: Komatsu)

Loader, Excavator GET Improve Penetration

Komatsu subsidiary Hensley Industries reported the Kprime tooth system answers some critical needs of customers and helps them achieve production and maintenance goals. “Teeth are the connection between mining equipment and the materials in the ground, so they’re vital to a machine’s performance,” said Nathan May, deputy general manager, marketing. “Our mining customers have told us that they want and need a dedicated tooth system that is strong, long-lasting, and includes safety-enhancing features.”

The Kprime system provides exactly that, Komatsu said. It “is engineered for high performance, ease of use and longevity.”

Topping the list of benefits offered is increased machine performance metrics. “The Kprime system has several features that can help customers increase productivity,” May said. “For example, the teeth have improved penetration of up to 15% compared to previous models.” Improved penetration translates to more voluminous draws and efficiency.

The teeth are designed for longevity, which means less changeouts and maintenance and more uptime, which helps boost productivity. “We’ve increased the material in high-wear areas and the system design is also 10% stronger than the previous system to reduce breakage during operations,” May said.

“To help unlock additional productivity and ease-of-use, the Kprime tooth system has been engineered to offer extended periods between tooth changes in challenging mining applications,” he said. “Wear material on the teeth and adapter legs are designed to provide a longer life cycle.”

The tooth “stays sharp and helps direct material away from the adapter,” he said. “Longer tooth life means fewer change-outs are needed.”

Fewer change-outs means lower overall labor requirements. “In this labor market, we hear from our customers about their staffing shortages,” May said. “The Kprime tooth system can help combat those labor challenges because there is a longer time between maintenance cycles, which allows for better planning,” he said. “To make changing parts easier in the field with less risk to maintenance crews, we simplified our fastener system.”

The fastener system requires standard-size metric wrenches and a quarter turn to lock. “We added weight markings on each part, and pry slots on the teeth, adapters, and wear caps to allow for easier handling and removal of parts during maintenance cycles,” May said. “Because changing the teeth is easier, there is a faster turnaround.”

The system supports performance in different applications and environments, he said. “It is available in eight tooth designs for excavators, and four for wheel loaders, with a variety of adapters to help ensure you have the right combination for your work environment.”

It can be used on “any Komatsu loader, model WA1200 up to the P&H L-2350, or on Komatsu excavators from model PC800 up to the PC4000,” Komatsu reported. It is “also available for other-brand ground-engaging tools and equipment.”

The Extreme Duty Bucket is designed with an aggressive dig angle to effectively excavate in the toughest conditions, Werk Brau reported. (Photo: Werk Brau)

Extreme-duty Bucket Ups Uptime

Werk-Brau reported its Extreme Duty Bucket delivers increased uptime and can help mining companies contend with the big trending challenges of the day.

The bucket features “GET throughout the critical wear areas, including in between the teeth, the side plates, and the heels of the bucket,” said Johnathon Jones, sales representative. “Uptime is critical in a production environment, and the Extreme Duty Bucket for mining applications is designed and built to keep an operation moving, and consequently increasing profitability.”

The bucket is designed with “an aggressive dig angle to effectively excavate in the toughest conditions,” the company said. It is made of T-1 steel in all critical or high-wear components. “This bucket features tapered side plates, horizontal wear straps, and an extra thick cutting edge is backed by a wear plate that covers the entire bucket bottom.”

The tip radius “is to or within OEM specifications,” the company said. “Each bucket is engineered with tapered side plates to reduce wear on the bucket’s sides, and to allow for easier dumping,” Werk-Brau said. “The cutter bit is made from heavy-duty cast material.”

Typically, the tooth size on the Extreme Duty Bucket is bigger than that on OEM buckets. “A selection of quality brand teeth are available to choose from,” the company said. Box rippers are available, as are bolt-on side cutters “for added endurance.”

The bucket is offered in a range of sizes, with special designs and capacities available. For example, “a coal Mine in Ohio uses a 7.6-m3 Extreme Duty bucket on a Hitachi EX1200 excavator,” said Kelly Robinson, sales representative.

The reasons for adoption are many, and the bucket can contribute to a miner’s ability to contend with trending challenges. It can give a customer an advantage in dealing with supply chain disruption issues.

“Werk-Brau uses an in-house team of design engineers that are not subject to third-party design,” Robinson said. “Werk-Brau maintains strong partnerships with domestic steel suppliers to leverage lowest total cost of materials,” he said. “Additionally, Werk-Brau is able to work directly with OEM suppliers to support on component needs.”

Further, the bucket can outlast competitor buckets, meaning it won’t require maintenance, parts, and replacement as quickly. “Due to the strength and abrasion-resistant materials, the extreme duty mining bucket can run longer before reaching end of life,” he said.

The bucket can help a customer overcome labor market constraints by enabling more efficient operation and increased productivity. “Increased productivity, via maximum load-out capacity, helps mining operations move more material with fewer personnel,” Jones said. “The increased durability, and overall bucket capacity, allow an operator to load-out trucks with fewer passes than a traditional bucket for a specific machine,” he said. “This results in faster cycle times and more material moved over the course of a working shift.”

The quality of materials used helps to prevent unplanned downtime, he said. “Unplanned downtime for repairs requires labor.”

The Extreme Duty Excavator Buckets can help a miner meet regulations, Robinson said. “Since Werk-Brau controls the complete build process, from design to manufacturing, Werk-Brau is able to control the types of materials being used in this product build to ensure it is compliant with job site regulations.”

Columbia Steel Cast Products LLC, formerly Columbia Steel Casting Co, still sells its renowned crusher and dragline parts offerings. Above, jaw and gyratory crusher parts prepped for shipment. (Photo: Columbia Steel)

CMS Cepcor Subsidiary Columbia Steel Continues Legacy

By Jesse Morton, Technical Writer

Columbia Steel Cast Products LLC, formerly Columbia Steel Casting Co., Inc., reported it is currently transferring recipes and processes to a new foundry, and its flagship crusher and dragline parts offerings are still available.

In Q1, the company announced it agreed to be acquired by crushing solutions supplier CMS Cepcor, headquartered in Leicestershire, United Kingdom. Since then, Columbia Steel has worked to maintain its book of business, key personnel and legacy amid numerous changes.

“We are moving as fast as we can,” said Mike Moehnke, director of operations and sales, Columbia Steel. “There will be a little bit of patience required but we are very far along in the process and have started to take orders already,” he said. “The supply chain is in place. It is just a matter of fine tuning it now that we are up and running.”

The owners of Columbia Steel had been looking at options regarding selling the foundry in recent years. The big challenge was finding a suiter that would both buy the company and run the foundry in Portland, Oregon. Few savored the idea of operating a foundry in the Pacific Northwest, U.S.A.

“Portland, and the state of Oregon, are not factory-friendly locations,” Moehnke said. “It became apparent there were too many challenges for any prospective purchaser to purchase and run the foundry as a going concern in Portland.” A formal closure of the foundry was announced and options to sell engineering and intellectual property were explored.

“They went through more than 10 companies that were looking at rock crusher assets,” Moehnke said. “That would be the name and all elements of the intellectual property, including drawings, the proprietary recipes, and heat-treat cycles for the premium manganese steel.”

That steel is “a superior manganese steel,” he said. “There was a lot of effort put into it.” The steel ultimately was the foundation on which the business and legacy of the company was built.

The list of suiters was reduced to three. “They wanted to find someone who was going to carry on the legacy for Columbia Steel casting company,” Moehnke said. “And they chose CMS Cepcor, a company with proven track record and an industry leader, believing that they were best suited to continue that legacy.”

CMS Cepcor migrated a number of key engineering and sales personnel to the new business, and recruited David Havel, who had previously worked for Columbia Steel for 15 years as a metallurgist, to be the director of metallurgy and production.

The new business will be working from a portfolio of trusted suppliers both in the U.S.A. and overseas.

Going forward, for most customers “not much will change,” Moehnke said. “Now initially, it is going to take us a little time while patterns and engineering processes are transferred to new partner foundries, but with our own metallurgist overseeing this process we are confident this transfer will be a relatively seamless process.”

Some of the initial castings will be of alloys that the foundries currently make. “We don’t see that being a huge problem because the proven manganese steel alloys that the foundries have been using they have been making for decades,” he said. “They are very good at it.”

The company is offering most of its old lineup for gyratory, cone, and jaw crushers; dragline chains and rigging. For many items, prices will decrease. “The manufacturer in Portland Oregon was a very expensive manufacturer, and so the customer should see some better pricing but still have the same custom-made profiles that allows their crusher to run more efficiently than any of the OEM profiles,” Moehnke said.

“The quoting process will be similar,” he said. “We retained a number of our key district managers and those are in the major mining areas.”

New customers can inquire about purchasing via the Columbia Steel website, “If someone no longer has our number, or if the salesman that they worked with no longer works for Columbia Steel, the webpage is still active and monitored by our experienced internal sales team,” Moehnke said.

“All the salesmen that did come on board, their mobile phones are staying the same,” he said. “For most customers, there is not going to be much difference.”

With a business focused on high-quality products and coupled with robust engineering and liner optimization support, “the new business successfully perpetuates the legacy of Columbia Steel,” Moehnke said.

“I am very optimistic moving forward,” he said. Leadership is supportive of the new venture.

“They have been extremely easy to work with,” Moehnke said. “They are letting the salesmen and myself have a lot of input in how we move forward to continue the Columbia tradition, the Columbia way of doing business.”