Quarry operators and contractors need to understand the importance of quality and regular inspections in managing the whole of life cost of Ground Engaging Tools (GET).
According to Mark Adams, territory and export manager at Keech Castings (Australia) , though there is pressure to reduce costs in a tough economy, accepting the cheapest price for a critical operational consumable is a wrong business decision.
He explains that initial price is just one of the cost components with the total cost per machine hour being a more relevant benchmark. Stronger wear parts and GET equate to a longer life, while good design and high manufacturing standards minimise the chances of failure and costly unscheduled maintenance on a key production machine.
Keech employs field engineers, headed by Chandra Mpral to work with end users, either directly or through dealers, to match GET to the site conditions and owner priorities. The Keech team ensures that correct procedures are followed in measuring wear, changing teeth and generally managing GET and wear parts.
Chandra observes that problems in the field can often be traced to incorrect procedures or tools being used, which can increase the changeover time for GET and cause lost production. Each box of GET contains instructions on fitting the GET, as well as a supporting manual and data sheets including field instructions for using the gauges to measure wear, and determining when to replace GET.
He explains that the aim is to maximise the life of the GET without adversely affecting performance and fuel consumption, causing wear to other parts that can be expensive and time-consuming to repair or replace, and without risking failure. He said that GET, in some applications are designed to have up to 65% of their mass lost in wear before replacement.
The ongoing development of Keech GET relies on feedback from the field with a team of engineers performing hand calculations and Finite Element Analysis of new designs that can withstand substantially higher forces than the specification of the machine to which they are fitted. Keech takes into account the teeth as well as the teeth locking methodology in product development to increase speed and safety in teeth changeovers.
Products are designed to a 50% higher rating than general design conventions to handle unexpected impact loads, and are tested against major global competitors. Keech often records 15-20% greater strength in destructive testing.
In its 80th year, the Australian owned family business continues to reinvent itself through innovation and attention to quality. Its subsidiary Keech 3D is at the forefront of 3D printing technology, allowing Keech to develop and refine new designs quickly and economically.
Keech QA Manager Bala Hebbar is proud of the QA systems and procedures that have been developed at Keech, and which have earned ISO9001 Quality Accreditation. He explains that everything from the selection of raw materials to the finishing of the completed product is carefully controlled.
Keech also prioritises staff training with computer screens provided throughout the factory for access by the employees.
To Mark Adams, this all adds up to Keech providing the lowest overall GET cost through a combination of design, field support, quality and innovation.