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Hydraulic drives minimise downtime

Hägglunds Drives carried out a thorough needs analysis of the entire system before suggesting a solution for Alcoa’s Kwinana refinery.

Alcoa is the world’s leading producer of alumina and aluminium. The three Alcoa refineries in Australia – Kwinana, Pinjarra and Wagerup – have a combined capacity of 7.3 million tonnes per year. This accounts for 48 per cent of Australia’s total alumina production and 15 per cent of world alumina demand.

The Kwinana refinery has been in operation since 1963 and produces 1.9 million tonnes of alumina annually. Each year 7 million tonnes of bauxite is crushed by Kwinana’s 9 rod mills. The rod mills run 24/7/365 and Alcoa is constantly looking for new ways to minimise downtime.

The pan feeders supplying Alcoa’s rod mills with bauxite are under a lot of pressure. Each feeder is sitting underneath a bin with up to 180 tonnes of bauxite. The two motors driving each feeder must be able to handle the up to 180 tonnes as a dump load without creating vibration or balance problems.
Alcoa’s pan feeders are running at a capacity of up to 160 tonnes per hour. Should a motor break down, the cost for Alcoa would be substantial.

On top of the repair or replacement cost of the motor, it could easily take two people 10-12 hours to replace the motor. That time could be better spent elsewhere and every hour of downtime is costly in lost production. Alcoa needs a tough and reliable solution.

Hagglunds Drives carried out a thorough needs analysis of the entire system before suggesting a solution.

"The huge dump loads would cause problems for most drives," said sales engineer Neville Kelly, Hagglunds Drives.

"However, the symmetrical design of the Hagglunds Compact CA50 meets this tough demand. The 14 pistons in each drive are in a fully balanced sequence of operation all but eliminating vibrations. While the hollow shaft allows direct mounting to the driven shaft removing radial and axial loads."

Initially a trial system was fitted on one of the feeders. The trial was an immediate success and gradually all feeders were fitted with Hagglunds motors. 16 out of the 18 Hagglunds motors run 24/7/365 in a hot and tough environment. Still - since the very first installation eight years ago - the only problem Alcoa has encountered is a broken seal. The motor was quickly replaced with Alcoa’s spare Hagglunds, the seal was fixed, and today that very unit is Alcoa’s spare motor.

All service and maintenance of Alcoa’s hydraulic systems is carefully planned in order to maximise output and minimise downtime. In the unlikely event of a breakdown, Hagglunds Drives is on call 24/7/365 and can be on-site within the hour, no matter when the call is received. All Hgglunds Drives’ services are at a forecast annual cost.

For a copy of the full case study contact Hagglunds Drives on tel: +61 (0)7 3255 5266.

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