Reliable air conditioning systems in large mobile equipment on mines, quarries and bulk earthworks sites can make the difference between profit and loss; it all comes down to good maintenance, according to Booyco Engineering.
Weather and humidity can be extreme in many parts of southern Africa, with temperatures fluctuating from minus 10 degrees to 40 degrees Celsius, and humidity levels reaching 95%. Booyco Engineering managing director Brenton Spies says these factors, combined with harsh operating conditions on remote sites, raise the risk of unexpected work stoppages.
“Not only do these conditions place heavy demands on climate control systems, they can also seriously undermine productivity when these systems fail,” says Spies.
He highlights that in many situations an operator is entitled to ‘down tools’ if environmental conditions in the cab are not conducive to health and safety.
“This means that the whole operation is dependent on functional and efficient air conditioning,” he says. “Achieving this through regular and professional maintenance is not difficult, but many companies do not give this work the priority that it deserves.”
He disputes that it is a financial issue, because the actual cost of good maintenance pales into insignificance compared to the cost – and reputational risk – associated with load and haul equipment standing idle during an unplanned breakdown. Something as simple as a clogged filter presents a safety risk, and keeping it clean minimises the risk of fire, short circuits and malfunctions.
“Avoiding downtime is not the only reason for conducting scheduled maintenance,” he notes. “Well-maintained air conditioning equipment is also more energy efficient – so it delivers ongoing savings to the operation while performing better for the operator.”
It also adds to the life of the air conditioner, reducing overall cost of ownership. When this equipment is maintained properly, argues Spies, it can last up to 15 years.
The key is to engage the right skills and experience to conduct the work, and to have a plan in place to ensure it is carried out regularly. This requires a technician qualified to work on pressurised refrigerant systems, who understands how these systems are best applied in harsh working conditions.
“Booyco Engineering has decades of experience in designing and building these climate control systems from the ground up – customised for specific applications,” he says. “This puts us in a unique position to support and maintain this equipment through its life cycle.”
The company has a range of maintenance offerings. A monthly service involves cleaning of return and fresh air filters, checking for leaks and functional HVAC testing, while a bi-monthly service also includes blowing out the condenser coil. In a three-monthly service, a chemical cleaning of the condenser is done, as well as checking of wiring, fasteners, V-belt tension, gas leaks and refrigerant pressures. In an annual service, a compressor oil level check is added, and a chemical cleaning of the evaporator coil.
“We can provide service level agreements for customers, after surveying their equipment and advising on the appropriate maintenance schedule,” he says. “We offer all customers a 24/7 service, 365 days a year, with response time of just 12 hours where there is not an MOS in place.”