A pilot operated water valve used to feed water to a dust suppression spray system that was designed by a customer for their underground longwall mining machines, could not cope with the harsh underground mining environment. It was found to be unreliable, sticking and beset with intermittent pilot failures that they were unable to resolve. This issue created a safety hazard for the people working in the mines and led to considerable downtime and maintenance costs.
A well-known customer wanted Hydraulic Controls Pty Ltd to provide an urgent solution to a broken-down hydraulic integrated circuit (HIC) unit on one of their motor graders that the valve manufacture recently made obsolete. The broken valve lead to loss of hydraulic power to the blade slide cylinder, excessive fluid power leak in and around the equipment that became a high-level risk to the Health and Safety of the operator and their client. This downtime was also costing the company massive amount of lost revenue and delays to the project outcome.
A manufacturer of underground coal mining machines required a compact hydraulic control unit that integrated fifteen different functions to control all the devices on their drilling and bolting attachments. It was required to be robust and reliable in a harsh underground mining environment and to be designed and certified to the Fluid Power Safety Systems in Mines standards. It was also important that all components used in the unit were readily available in Australia to avoid delays for service in the future.
It's a robust environment for the operating equipment in an underground mine. Large mining machines are driven by hydraulics and there are many levers that the miners use to operate the equipment. One of the issues that caused inconvenient disruption and down time for repairs and maintenance was damaged control levers. Apart from the cost of the disruption and of the maintenance itself, there was a safety issue of possible oil leaks and spillages during the replacement of parts, leading to a hazardous situation in the dimly lit and dusty environment of the mine.