Excavators are one of the most widely-used hydraulic mining equipment in Australia. In the mining industry, excavators perform a number of essential tasks such as earthmoving, excavation, dumping and lifting heavy loads. Although there is a diverse range of excavator types, all require quality parts and regular maintenance to ensure optimal performance at the mine site.
How do excavators work?
With their large bucket and powerful arm, excavators move huge amounts of soil from one area to another so that a truck can remove it from the site. Behind these powerful actions is a hydraulic system.
Hydraulic systems rely on a simple but powerful concept: an incompressible fluid can be used to multiply a force. The small force that an excavator operator applies to a lever is multiplied into a very large force that is able to move heavy loads. Hydraulic pumps, cylinders and valves all work together to achieve this result.
Types of excavators used in mining
There are many excavator types, each designed for specific project types and mine site environments. Mining hydraulics vary depending on the size, weight and power requirements of the excavator.
Some of the most common excavators include:
- Wheel Mounted Excavators – These excavators use wheels for movement rather than tracks. They are versatile and easy to manoeuvre, but cannot go on particularly rough terrain. Wheel mounted excavators can be driven between work sites, meaning they don’t need to be transported.
- Track Mounted Excavators – Also known as “crawlers”, this type of excavator is designed to drive on less stable surfaces. By using a continuous track to move, it can drive on sand, mud and boggy terrain without sinking. Since it can only drive on the mine site, a track mounted excavator must be transported from site to site.
- Long Reach Excavators – Long reach excavators are used to dig deep holes or trenches. Thanks to its long reach capacity, it is used for difficult projects and depth requirements that other excavators cannot achieve. Long reach excavators require purpose built booms and sticks, hydraulic cylinders and counterweights to avoid tipping.
- Hydraulic Shovels – Hydraulic shovels are very powerful, heavy duty excavators. They are used in all sorts of mining projects for heavy lifting and hauling large rocks and earth materials.
Common problems with excavators & how to avoid them
Like any machinery, excavators are vulnerable to damage and break downs as parts get older or proper maintenance is not upheld.
Common problems with hydraulic mining equipment include:
- Contamination – The majority of hydraulic system failures can be traced back to contamination of the hydraulic fluid. Water is a common contaminant that can cause serious corrosion damage and shorten the life of hydraulic components. Air contamination, AKA cavitation, can wear down hydraulic components and even cause metal particles to contaminate the oil.
- Leakages – Leakages of hydraulic fluid will cause fluid levels to fall, even if the leak is undetectable. If they are not dealt with, leaks can cause significant damage, poor performance and decrease the life of the hydraulic system.
- Hydraulic Pump Failure – Fluid contamination, excessive heat and too much pressure can all cause hydraulic pump failure. The hydraulic pump is essential to the system’s operation and failure can cause huge down time.
The ultimate protection against issues with hydraulic mining equipment, including excavators, is to carry regular maintenance and check ups. Mining hydraulics require regular maintenance in order to prevent costly repairs and expensive downtime. Minor issues should always be dealt with promptly to avoid breakdowns.
Keeping the system clean is crucial to avoid contaminants. High quality filters are a must and monitoring technologies are the best way to keep your eye on the system’s health.
Hydraulic parts for excavators
When you rely on hydraulic mining equipment to get essential work done, breakdowns and maintenance issues can decrease productivity. The best way to avoid costly downtime with mining hydraulics is to use quality parts and ensure regular maintenance is practiced.
Hydraulic Solutions and Sales offer a large range of diverse mining hydraulic parts and customised systems that can be used in excavators and other mining machinery. All products we stock, distribute and re-sell are durable and reliable to maximise productivity and avoid down time.