Metso Insights Blog Aggregates blog Crushing it for 35 years
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May 25, 2023

Crushing it for 35 years – technical expert’s top tips for crusher maintenance and operation

Mark Kennedy
Mark Kennedy
Senior Global Training Specialist
After a long and productive career with Metso, Mark Kennedy, Senior Global Training Specialist, is retiring. Throughout his working life, Mark has focused single mindedly on the business of ‘making little rocks out of big rocks’ (his words) and is today recognized as a technical expert in the field. Read on for his expert advice on crusher maintenance and operation.

Mark spent his first 19 years with Metso in the global field service department, where he was responsible for the installation, commissioning and repair of rock crushers and mineral processing equipment – both at home and overseas. He has always been able to deliver a fresh perspective and pertinent solutions to customers and distributors. In 2002, he moved over to the training department and became a Technical Training Instructor. He was promoted to Senior Technical Training Instructor in 2010 and to Senior Global Training Specialist in 2020. It is arguably in his role as trainer that Mark made the biggest mark on our industry.

So, as he prepares to hang up his cleats, what does Mark himself have to say to the global crusher community? We asked him to share some parting words of wisdom. While it’s obviously difficult to condense the lessons of a 35-year career into one article, with his trademark can-do approach, Mark has given it a go.

Producing a consistent product size, shape and quantity requires that the crushing and screening process vary as little as possible throughout the day.

Advice on crusher operations

Operate your crusher correctly

When it comes to rock crushers, my advice is to follow the methods and practices that have been proven to maximize productivity and attain mechanical reliability. The bottom line is the crusher must be operated properly and within its designed limitations to be successful.

Keep variations to a minimum

Producing a consistent product size, shape and quantity requires that the crushing and screening process vary as little as possible throughout the day. This means you need to feed the crusher with a consistent feed gradation, operate it at a consistent closed side discharge setting, and with a consistent cavity level.

To quote the late great William Deming, an American engineer specializing in the field of quality management, “Quality is the Elimination of Variation”.

Avoid overloading

At the same time, you need to be certain that the crusher is not being operated in an overload condition. Overloads in the form of excessive power peaks and/or adjusted ring movement results in so-called ‘fatigue damage’, which is permanent, irreversible, and cumulative. The accumulation of fatigue damage leads to a shorter number of load cycles to crusher failure.

Take ownership

One of the more frustrating things I’ve seen over the years is crusher operators who fail to take ownership of the crushers they are tasked to operate. It’s key to the success of the business they work for, so you could say their livelihood relies on it. It is critical for operational staff to work proactively when it comes to operating and monitoring their crushers. Acting like they truly own the machine will ensure they get the best out of their equipment.

Advice on crusher maintenance 

Get to the root cause

I’ve been aware of a gradual change in the role of crusher mechanics over the years and I have seen where it can lead to larger issues. These days, if a crusher component fails, the mechanic usually just fixes or replaces it. But if he or she doesn’t dig down to the root cause of the problem, the failure is likely to recur. As I’ve always said, ‘insanity consists of making the same repair over and over, expecting different results.’ Unfortunately, far too many producers get caught in this trap today.

So, my point is, crusher mechanics should not be mere parts changers. They should spend more time on diagnostics, failure analysis and developing an understanding of what makes their crushers tick. Anything else is a false economy.

Acting like you truly own the machine will ensure you get the best out of the equipment.

Advice on crusher training

Why training matters

Having worked as an educator for 16 years, I have seen the benefits of proper training firsthand. It has a positive impact on everything from employee confidence to plant profitability.

Impact on your bottom line

Cost effective maintenance and operations techniques begin with staff who are knowledgeable about the crushers they work with. If staff are inadequately trained, crushers eventually suffer from escalating operating costs caused by poor disassembly or assembly practices, neglect of preventive maintenance, premature component wear, frequent equipment overloads, erratic use of connected horsepower, and so on.

Some producers make enough profit to offset the cost of replacing crusher parts and lost revenue associated with downtime. But it doesn’t make sense to miss out on the profits they would otherwise enjoy.

Whatever the cost of quality maintenance and operations training, I would argue that it represents good value for the producer.

Impact on staff

It is a well-documented fact that effective training improves employee confidence and performance, as well as reducing staff turnover. It has always been my personal feeling that if you can convince the right employee to attend a good technical training seminar, the employer will recoup their investment many times over in the form of equipment knowledge, increased on-line availability, lower maintenance repair costs and higher asset productivity.

To conclude, whatever the cost of quality maintenance and operations training, I would argue that it represents good value for the producer. If your organization is experiencing skyrocketing or even gradually increasing operating costs due to existing maintenance and operating practices, consider yourself a prime candidate for maintenance and operations training. Simply put, investing the time into proper training programs will never be regretted.

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