In this pump performance review, we speak with Scott Hansen, who is Maintenance Supervisor at Redpath's Queensland operation.
Q: How would you describe your operation?
A: We are operating an underground site which includes two underground mines and a batch plant.
Motivation for Change
Q: I believe that you decided to purchase a PumpEng JetGuard pump for a slurry pit. What motivated that trial?
A: I did a bit of research online. I came across the JetGuard pump and got in touch with PumpEng to get some quotes. We ended up putting in a 10kW JetGuard at the batch plant.
We'd been chewing through the pumps that we had in there because the fibres kept getting in them. That's when we decided to replace them with a JetGuard.
Q: The JetGuard pump was installed on-site in February 2020. Can you describe how that pump has performed over the past 18 month period?
A: Yes, we haven't had to do anything to it in terms of service. We just winch it up every now and then to give it a bit of a clean-out.
Mean (net) Time Between Failure
Q: A PumpEng goal is to increase the Mean (net) Time Between Failure of dewatering pumps. Is that what you are seeing that has been achieved by using JetGuard?
A: Yes, for sure. It is a surprise because before, we were down there just about once a week digging out the sump and getting rid of the fibres. We'd be pulling up the pump, pulling it apart and stripping the bottom end down just so we could pump water. Putting the JetGuard in has eliminated that work. Now the only time we do any maintenance is when we do our electrical testing on the box. That's when we pull it up, make sure it comes out, so we can give it a bit of a clean.
Q: In the previous pumps, you were seeing a lot of evidence that it was the Shotcrete fibre that was causing the trouble. The evidence you are seeing is that the JetGuard is managing the Shotcrete fibre better. Is that correct?
A: Yes, it manages the Fibrecrete better. The fibre doesn’t block the pump up.
Q: Would you consider more JetGuards in future if the right sizes were available?
A: Yes. The size that we have been using is 20kW. Sometimes we'll use 37kW, but mostly 20kW. We've also started using some 8 kW in a few places.
Data-Driven Constant Improvement
Q: PumpEng takes a constant improvement approach to pump performance by ongoing analysis of performance data and making quarterly adjustments to optimise pump performance. If more JetGuard pumps were on-site in the future, would that be of interest to you?
A: Yes. We're not spraying as much Fibrecrete as we used to, but there is still a fair bit of the fibre around.
Benefits of Longer Pump Life
Q: Improvements in pump performance lead to a reduction in costs and resource demand. What is the area of saving most important to you?
A: It was more to do with downtime and the labour involved. Every week I'd be sending someone down there to clean a pump out. That might take them four hours digging out the sump and that's the minimum. It could even take six hours, and that's every week. So definitely, labour-saving is important.
A: It also creates a hazard because you've got water on the floor in the batch plant.
Frees Up Crew for Preventative Maintenance
A: Having the JetGuard there has freed them up to do other jobs like preventative maintenance, which reduces breakdowns.
Less Worry About Breakdowns
Q: What was your thinking when you initially bought this pump?
A: We were hoping to be able to put in a pump and not have to worry too much. So that's a green tick there. Initially, I got the Gold Star service package on it, and I haven't had to get the pump serviced at all.
Value of Improved Pump Performance
Q: The PumpEng Way is about delivering value and increased profit by fewer disruptive maintenance events. From what you're saying, that's been achieved by this one pump.
A: Yes, that's been achieved.
Q: Has the long life of this JetGuard pump been noticed by other members of your team?
A: Yes it has. The batch plant managers would have noticed it because they have to ring up and say the sump is overflowing and the pump is not working.
Good Day At Work
Q: PumpEng is trying to get people to have a good day at work by improving dewatering pump performance. Do you think longer pump performance contributes to better morale on-site?
A: Yes, for sure. It frees up time to put into other parts of the business. It's good not having to constantly deal with the same pump problems.