December 14, 2017

Condition monitoring

Helping mines operate at optimum efficiency

Africa’s leading condition monitoring company, WearCheck recently launched LubriGard, a new lubrication services division, offering customers access to a variety of lubrication programmes, and consumables.

Coupled with WearCheck’s condition monitoring services, the LubriGard programme is already aiding mining operations to operate equipment at optimum output levels.

Says WearCheck’s Reliability Solutions manager Philip Schutte, ‘After developing our successful Reliability Solutions division recently, the next logical step was to assist our customers with their lubrication needs, and provide solutions to keep their equipment in the healthiest possible condition.’

A core service for WearCheck to date has been the scientific analysis of used oil from mechanical and electrical systems, serving the earthmoving, industrial, transport, shipping, aircraft and electrical industries. Additional services include the analysis of fuels, transformer oils, coolants, greases and filters.

Schutte explains, ‘The concept of analysing oil samples from a machine or component is similar to that of taking a blood sample from a person – the results determine the health status of the unit. WearCheck’s highly-skilled diagnostic team then analyses the results and recommends how to rectify any abnormal findings.’

He continues, ‘The Reliability Solutions division introduced services such as vibration monitoring, laser alignment, balancing and thermal imaging to offer customers a complete ‘one stop shop’ for condition monitoring. The new LubriGard division was formed because in reality, customers do not always use the correct type and grade of lubricant, which is often the direct cause of premature equipment failure.

‘For example, general purpose grease is being used in most machinery in plants today. When greasing high speed bearings, for instance in electric motors, this can cause viscous drag that may cause higher operating temperatures and energy consumption. Grease with a lower viscosity will be more efficient, as bearings running at higher temperatures can destroy the additive package in the grease and also cause the grease to drain out, leaving the motor deprived of sufficient lubrication. This causes damage to the bearing and premature failure.

‘LubriGard considers all factors involved when choosing the correct lubricant, such as load conditions, revolutions per minute that the bearing is rotating and the environment to which the equipment is exposed.

‘Furthermore, LubriGard develops an automatic lubrication programme that is best suited to each customer’s needs. Over-greasing is not a myth and can result in higher operating temperatures, premature bearing failures and increase the risk of contamination ingress. Using an automatic lubrication programme in conjunction with condition monitoring applications helps to eliminate these problems completely.

‘LubriGard introduces specialised oils and greases and breathers and filters that keep out particles as small as five microns, which can cause exponential wear in machinery and contamination. We will ensure that expensive and critical equipment stays available – this, in effect, reduces downtime.’

Schutte is confident that maintenance based on the condition of machinery is essential in order to dramatically reduce production losses.

With the recent opening of two brand new WearCheck laboratories in Ghana and Mozambique, an expansive network now includes eight additional WearCheck laboratories spanning the African continent and beyond, including Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga Province, and international laboratories in India, Dubai and Zambia – at Lumwana mine and Kitwe – with a presence in Cape Town, Rustenburg, Steelpoort, Port Elizabeth, Zimbabwe and Namibia.

The introduction of LubriGard services, which are available to customers throughout the WearCheck network, is in line with the company’s ongoing commitment to top quality innovation, and to help customers find reliable solutions to boost the bottom line with the reduction of operating costs.

Backed by certification from Paris-based Bureau Veritas and Honeywell, WearCheck is the only oil analysis company in Africa with ISO 9001 quality certification and ISO 14001 certification for its environmental management programme, and ISO 17025 accreditation for its laboratory-centric quality management programme.

WearCheck has been awarded preferred supplier status by several Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs); notably Bell, Liebherr, Volvo Construction Equipment and, along with WearCheck’s global partners, is the laboratory of choice for a number of lubricant suppliers. WearCheck also has a partnership with ABB Limited, Zurich – a global leader in power and automation technologies. These partnerships are in line with worldwide trends in outsourcing specialist services.

WearCheck’s operational areas are managed ethically and independently to ensure products and services conducted comply with the company’s strict international standards.


  1. Condition monitoring specialists WearCheck process in excess of 600 000 oil analysis samples each year in its laboratories. Here, despatch clerkMichelle Alexander sorts oil samples.
  2. WearCheck’s managing director, Neil Robinson, believes that a combination of ongoing investment in the latest technology, unwavering service excellence and a strong focus on ethical management, ensures that his company remains at the helm of the proactive condition monitoring industry in Africa.
  3. WearCheck’s reliability solutions manager Philip Schutte is excited to launch the new LubriGard division as part of the company’s complete preventive maintenance solutions.
  4. Daniel Boakye, customer sales and support officer for WearCheck Ghana, calibrates a modern software-controlled viscometer bath in WearCheck’s first laboratory in West Africa, which opened recently. WearCheck Ghana offers a local oil analysis service and excellent sample turnaround time.
  5. WearCheck’s newest laboratory in Tete Province, Mozambique, offers local industries, particularly mining, access to world class condition monitoring services.

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