This is an interview with the Maintenance Superintendent at a Nickel Concentrator.
Problem with Pump Failure
We are a hard rock mine producing a nickel concentrate. The pumps we were using were not as efficient as we would have liked. They were very susceptible to product size and would block up all the time. It was just a constant drama, especially in the crushing area.
PumpEng Trial of ScatPump
I had dealt with PumpEng before at a previous site, and we had some success there. We decided to put a trial in and it just coincided with the time I was having pumping issues. Ever since then, the new ScatPump has been a success story. We have five in service, and we carry two spares.
Trials in Different Areas
We put the first pump in the high wear areas, which is our crushing area. We then added ScatPumps in the other areas of the plant, where the pumps only pump a very fine slurry.
In terms of performance, the ScatPump is plug and play. You can install it and forget about it. Once you put them in they just do their job, you don't have to worry about them.
Double Pump Life
We've definitely seen a longer product life already. The pumps we had in the crushing area lasted between about two to five months. The ScatPump is still going after six to eight months now. The switch to ScatPump has meant we've doubled the pump life and it could work out to be even better than that.
The PumpEng people are always willing to help. We get good responses from our questions. I think we've got a first exchange contract in place with the pumps, which is great for us. So we can virtually just put a new pump in and send the old one back, and it gets rebuilt and put back on the shelf.
Maintenance Crew Feedback
In terms of feedback, the crew love the new pumps. There's less time they have to spend unblocking and changing pumps, which is not our core function. As the maintenance team, we're there to stop things from breaking and make them reliable, whereas the old pumps were just absorbing a lot of our time. Already there have been suggestions from the crew about other areas they want to use ScatPumps - when they start doing that you know they are happy. They're actually suggesting, "Why don't we put these pumps here, there, and there and there?"
ScatPump Improves Safety
There is a safety aspect, as well. The less time you can have guys putting their hands where they shouldn't be, the better. It makes the areas where they're in, especially in the crushing area, safer. The old pumps were buried in dirt and the crew had to get in there and dig them out. It was an absolute hazard. Whereas now, you can drop the ScatPumps straight in the slurry. Pump out, pump in, and away they go.
ScatPump Smaller & Easier To Move
In terms of physical size, they are a lot smaller, so it's easier for us to get them in and out. The older pumps we were using were four or five times the size. There was a much greater risk involved in moving them about.
PumpEng Offer Recommended
If someone is thinking of switching over to PumpEng, I'd say make sure you take them up on your trial before you buy offer, because that's what really sold us. We could put one in as a trial and if it didn't perform, then PumpEng were willing to take it back. The offer, combined with the level of commitment and good case studies convinced us to take up the trial. We are very pleased with the ScatPump.