MRO Magazine

Feature

Innovative Bearing Design Keeps Equipment Mining

L&H Industrial Inc., a North American rebuilder and manufacturer of mining equipment components, is providing better equipment reliability to mine sites as a result of a new bearing design. Timken...


L&H Industrial Inc., a North American rebuilder and manufacturer of mining equipment components, is providing better equipment reliability to mine sites as a result of a new bearing design. Timken’s new spherical roller bearing cartridge has improved service life, saving mine operators thousands of dollars.

“L&H Industrial turned to Timken when it encountered ongoing repair problems. Timken’s knowledge of friction management not only helped L&H Industrial, but also the end users who are L&H’s customers,” said Trip Kern, Timken’s mining market manager.

L&H Industrial’s customers had problems with the reliability of the electric shovels they bought from original equipment manufacturers. These shovels, which are used to scoop 80-plus tons of earth and coal into haulage trucks in a single bite, could break down unexpectedly, resulting in lost productivity and repair costs that could exceed $5,000 an hour. When typical repairs lasted upward of 10 hours per incident, the financial implications could be significant.

L&H analyzed the equipment repairs and identified the shovel’s swingshaft as the root problem. At the lower end of the swingshaft, the main rotating pinion was mounted in an ‘overhung’ position, which subjected the swingshaft to severe bending loads at the last bearing. These shafts tended to crack after 4,000-6,000 hours — about every eight to 12 months — often causing an unexpected stop for maintenance.

L&H needed a solution, so Timken developed a new spherical roller bearing cartridge featuring an enlarged inside diameter and changes in its metallurgical properties. The new bearing has nearly double the life of the previous design and fits into the original housing.

“The shovels are still running, going on two years,” said Troy Allee, L&H engineering manager. “We are grateful to Timken because they helped find a solution for our customer. Few companies offer service and deliver value like that.”

Service life is a critical component of a mine site’s profitability. “Our ability to develop innovative integrated assemblies like this lower swingshaft bearing and to follow up with the necessary technical support demonstrates Timken’s commitment to serving the mining industry,” Kern said.

L&H is at the heart of the mining industry. Based in Gillette, Wyo., the company is a world leader in rebuilding parts and new manufactured parts of rope shovel and mining support equipment. L&H employs more than 200 and has a metallurgical and mechanical engineering department, combined with full welding and machining capabilities. It sells parts to mines around the globe.

After 40 years, this welder is still going strong

When Harland Hess started working at L&H Industrial, he was one of less than a dozen employees. Forty years later, in May 2006, L&H Industrial had more than 200 employees and Hess was still a dedicated worker.

“He’s always been one of our best welders,” said L&H Industrial vice-president Jeff Wandler. “He’s very skilled at the old trades, like brazing, some of the lost arts of the trade.”

Hess, who started at L&H in 1966, has only had three jobs in his lifetime. Once he was hired by L&H, he never looked for another job. “I never was one to be moving around,” Hess said.

L&H was a small company when Hess started at the age of 34. L&H was founded in 1964, starting out with just eight employees in a small shop in Gillette, Wyo.

Soon after Hess was hired by L&H, the company found a demand for its services and products throughout the Rocky Mountain region. Through the 1970s and 1980s, the L&H physical plant and the number of employees continued to expand. More growth occurred in the 1990s with the addition of an engineering department and CNC capabilities to pursue the manufacturing of OEM-alternative parts. Today, L&H Industrial boasts a distribution and service network that spans the globe, with distributors in all major mining areas worldwide.

Bringing with him years of expertise in welding, Hess works on a lot of specialty jobs. Though humble about his skills, he is a valuable asset to L&H. “I’ve got about 55 years experience as a welder,” Hess said. “They keep coming and asking me how to fix this and that, so I must know something.”

When Hess joined L&H, most welding was done with stick rod and a few years later, wire. Now, L&H has state-of-the-art equipment, including a robotic welding cell, to help complete jobs. Still, Hess has knowledge of his trade that many others are without.

“I’m the only one in the company that can braze aluminum,” he said. With 40 years at L&H, Hess has acquired and perfected skills valuable to the business. “You learn over time how to go about it, how to repair it right,” Hess said.

Hess doesn’t have plans to retire anytime soon — he’s doing a job he enjoys. In appreciation for his 40 years of service, L&H awarded Hess and his wife with an Alaskan cruise. He also was given his own parking place at L&H.