Beware of Pirate Slurry Pump Spare Parts
Replicating spare parts for slurry pumps is a serious issue in the mining industry, for both solution providers and the mine operators who utilise them. As commodity prices continue to drop, mining operators are under intense pressure to minimise operational costs. As a result, initial costs are often more important than total ownership costs, making non-OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) spare parts more appealable.
It is widely recognised within the industry that replicator parts host significant limitations, and can often cause more harm to slurry pumps than benefit. Non-OEM parts are notorious for their unreliability, and often decrease plant productivity, but why do they have this reputation? To answer this question, it is important for end-users to truly understand how replicators operate and their processes.
Most replicators produce their spare parts through the process of ‘reverse engineering’. They will often purchase or obtain a genuine spare part and take measurements to reconstruct a component drawing from which tooling, moulds, patterns and so forth, will be made. There are three significant deficiencies in this process: the absence of knowledge of optimum tolerances, material properties and methods of manufacture. “Our engineering experts at Weir Minerals understand our Warman slurry pumps and possess superior technical knowledge on how they operate.
The next challenging task replicators face is creating the right materials for the slurry pump. Slurry pump wear parts are made from a range of materials, specially developed for the application. Replicating slurry pump materials, from just a sample of materials, is very difficult.
Tolerance is defined as the amount a dimension or feature of a component is allowed to deviate from the nominal. When replicators produce non-OEM parts the control of the finished product dimensions is very tight to ensure interchangeability of parts.
Methods The manufacturing methods and processes used by OEMs have been developed over many years using expert engineering solutions. OEMs know their products inside out; they know what works and continuously make advancements to improve their technology.
At Weir Minerals, we often take samples of the worn parts and send this to our experts in the materials laboratory to analyse. Proper examination of the worn parts’ physical characteristics, by the people who know the design and manufacturing process of the slurry pump, can reveal the root cause of the wearing, and allows us to engineer the correct solutions specific to the application.