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Hydraulic hose project enhances aluminium extraction

Brammer : 12 September, 2013  (Application Story)
A crucial project launched to tackle premature component failure at a Brammer-supplied Icelandic facility is delivering huge cost savings for client Rio Tinto Alcan, global supplier of high quality bauxite, alumina and aluminium. The initiative to upgrade pivotal equipment has so far saved the customer in excess of £12,000.
Hydraulic hose project enhances aluminium extraction
The project was instigated at the Straumsvik plant in Iceland - where alumina is smelted to produce aluminium - in response to the premature failure of hydraulic hoses on production-critical pieces of plant equipment.
The problem was identified on two types of mobile equipment - bath cleaners and  crust breakers – which service the main ‘pots’ storing and processing up to four tonnes of molten aluminium.
There are five of each type of machine at the plant and each uses two hydraulic hoses operating at pressures of up to 250 bar (3500 psi).
Technical Specialist at Brammer, Steve Winslade, who spearheaded the project, explains: “We identified that the bath cleaners and crust breakers were making regular trips to the workshop for maintenance on the hydraulic hoses, which were failing every one to two weeks. We would usually expect them to last a year or more. The hoses work in some of the harshest conditions imaginable in close proximity to molten aluminium whose temperatures reach up to 960C. This extreme heat was causing the outer sheath of the hoses to soften and fail, while abrasion from the two hoses rubbing together was compounding the problem. The cost of a machine being offline for the hoses to be replaced is around £720 per day.”
Winslade and his team initiated a trial of heavy duty hoses from different manufacturers. 
The most durable hoses were found to be the Megatuff range produced by Gates – a leading global manufacturer of rubber belts and hoses for industrial applications.
Winsleade says: “Replacing the hoses with new, more durable ones solved the abrasion issue, but there remained a problem caused by the extreme temperatures. To tackle this issue an insulating sleeve with a silicone cover from leading high temperature insulation specialist Evoltex, capable of withstanding temperatures of up to 1000C, was applied. This successful combination has significantly extended the life of the hoses which are now lasting for eight weeks, some even up to 10, considerably increasing maintenance intervals.”
The new hose and sleeve combinations are now being rolled out across the whole fleet, with equipment downtime and hose costs set to be reduced even further.
Brammer and Rio Tinto Alcan enjoy an established relationship, now in its third year, with Rio Tinto Alcan purchasing around £1.2 million of MRO product per annum from Brammer.
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