Case Studies

Preventative Maintenance, Rock Salt Mining

Moving from Reactive to Predictive Maintenance Saves Costly Downtime

THE CHALLENGE

If you use salt in Canada, chances are it is from one of Wajax’s salt mining and refining customers. Our customer has a long-standing history of processing, importing, and distributing numerous evaporated and mined salt products. Their dedication to high-quality products and innovation has led them to become one of the largest salt manufacturer in Canada. They operate rock salt mines and were experiencing the typical issues that pain mining operations: harsh conditions and long hours leading to breakdowns and downtime.

THE NEED

Our customer wanted to transform its maintenance approach from reactive to predictive to solve issues before they became problems. To do so, they would need a new preventive maintenance program that could analyze the health of their machinery, detect potential issues, and act as an early warning system.

THE WAJAX SOLUTION

One thing we’ve learned is that every mining operation is different. There are no cookie-cutter solutions. So, our ERS team visited one of the salt mines to get a better picture of the daily grind. After an extensive review, the team determined that our vibration analysis and inspection monitoring system would be the best fit for the job.

This system uses state-of-the-art technology to provide advanced vibration analysis and diagnose potential problems. We first installed our vibration analysis software in 2017 and utilized route-based data collection and cloud-based programs to automatically collect and transmit the data, so our customer didn’t have to allocate additional resources.

The system was incredibly beneficial to productivity, and in 2021 they wanted to upgrade its data collection from route-based to Wi-Fi. We were more than happy to do this for them, but we were concerned that the Wi-Fi sensors might overload the company network and reduce productivity. To get around this, we provided a stand-alone network connection, which allowed our sensors to connect to their server and the cloud without impairing their daily Wi-Fi usage.

The Wajax Remote Diagnostic Center would monitor all the data, working in tandem with our customer’s in-house team of technicians to address issues as they arise.

THE OUTCOME

Ever since we first implanted our vibration monitoring system, our customer has been thrilled with its performance. No more so than during a particular incident in 2020, when our advanced vibration analysis detected higher-than-normal vibration levels in the motor of one of their crushers.

These vibration levels lead both of us to believe there may be a defective bearing within the motor. So, during the next outage, our customer inspected the motor, and sure enough, when they opened up the machine, they found a defective bearing. They replaced the motor, and our vibration analysis showed everything to be working in prime condition. Had we not gotten ahead of this problem, that defective bearing would have eventually led to a catastrophic failure. It would have cost estimated over $214,000 in production loss and excessive labour and material costs. Luckily, thanks to our preventive maintenance system, this rock salt mine didn’t lose any traction.