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Weld overlay cladding specialist Arc Energy Resources has completed a critical cladding operation for mining equipment manufacturer Joy Global that is intended to protect underground coal-mining installations.

Joy Global is a developer of surface and underground mining machinery. Its Worcester-based facility manufactures a range of heavy-duty equipment for use in long-wall mining operations, including shearers, roof supports and armoured face conveyors for the extraction of coal and other bedded materials.

The cladding operation undertaken by Arc Energy is helping to protect the vulnerable sprocket units fitted to Joy Global’s heavy-duty armoured face conveyors, which are installed with a shearer to extract the coal from the face. The sprockets drive Joy Global’s heavy-duty Broadband long-life chains, which operate continuously, moving coal from the coalface.

The underground environment is extremely aggressive, consisting of erosive coal, dust, dirt and rock, as well as water, which contains numerous corrosive elements. This combination of corrosion and erosion was proving to be a serious threat to the operational life of the Joy Global systems owing to build-up on the ‘dirty side’ of the mechanical face seals used to protect the sprocket’s bearings and shaft. It was so severe that it was displacing the seals’ internal nitrile rings.

The company decided to contact Arc Energy for a robust solution. After discussions, Arc Energy welded a corrosion-resistant layer of stainless steel alloy to a pre-machined sprocket in the seal seating area.

Key benefits of product application

  • The Arc Energy solution gives the sprocket housing an area of stainless steel to support the seal, protecting it from corrosion and thereby improving the reliability of its armoured face conveyors.
  • Joy Global has since applied this enhanced protection system to a number of its machines and a spokesperson says technical reports confirm the sprockets have performed successfully in extreme coal-mining environments in the UK and Australia.
  • The spokesperson said that any build-up of dirt and fines no longer causes the corrosion that had been undermining the performance of the seals.
  • Joy Global’s largest UK customer, UK Coal, which had been experiencing the problem, is also convinced. Its sprocket seals had been failing after six to nine months and are now achieving a service life of 18 months, which means the equipment remains underground for longer and therefore achieves an extended and more profitable operational life.
  • The enhanced sprocket protection on the armoured face conveyor, made possible by Arc Energy’s weld overlay cladding, could soon be introduced on a new range of advanced, long-life coal face machines being developed by the Worcester design team.
  • The protection provided by Arc Energy’s weld overlay cladding will ensure that sprocket failure is unlikely to interrupt coal production.

Arc Energy Resources

Arc Energy Resources is one of the UK’s leading specialists in weld overlay cladding and quality-assured fabrication services with a turnover approaching £5m, employing 70 staff in work space totalling more than 30,000ft2. The company’s expertise in weld overlay cladding services provides heavy-duty protection against corrosion and wear for process and pipeline equipment destined for use in any hostile environment. It can clad bores up to 4m in diameter and areas of restricted access within bores as small as 20mm in diameter.

The manufacturing infrastructure is qualified to ISO 9001:2008, ISO 3834-2, ISO 14001:2004 and ISO 18001:2007. The company also holds ASME U and R stamp certificates of authorisation, which qualifies it to fabricate and weld on components destined for use on pressure vessels built to ASME standard.

Arc Energy’s welders and fabricators are qualified to internationally recognised standards and specifications. A wide range of base metal/cladding combinations has been qualified to ASME IX, API 6A and NACE. In addition, Arc Energy offers in-house test weld, heat treatment, PMI and NDT facilities.

Arc Energy has recently invested £500,000 in two new rotating-head welding machines to increase productivity and extend the size and scope of work the company can handle. While conventional workstations move components around a fixed welding torch, the new machines use automated controls to manipulate the welding torch around a fixed component, accurately positioning it to apply the overlay while working close to the component’s footprint. The investment expands and enhances Arc Energy’s ability to handle complicated component geometries for the full or partial cladding and fabrication of a huge range of component sizes weighing anywhere up to 15 tonnes.

Managing director Alan Robinson is one of very few UK-registered European welding engineers. He has a Master's degree in welding and is a chartered engineer, a European engineer and a senior member of the Welding Institute. He has assembled a highly skilled team capable of delivering quality service from enquiry to delivery and beyond, which can engineer the perfect solution to the biggest of challenges.

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