HYDAC recently executed a factory acceptance test (FAT) of an iron ore wheel lock hydraulic power unit (HPU) purchased by a global mining company.
HYDAC Senior Engineer Nick Blyth says it takes many months for all the equipment and components to arrive before the FAT takes place.
“The fabrication and painting process runs in parallel and includes many inspections and hold points,” Mr Blyth says. “This ensures when it turns up at our facility everything will fit perfectly. Our hydraulic production team manufactures the unit in a few weeks before handing it over to our electrical team to wire all the valves, instruments and control panels.”
The FAT entailed inspecting and testing the unit with specialised testing equipment at HYDAC’s premises to resolve any concerns prior to dispatch.
This testing plays a pivotal role in terms of the success of any project involving HYDAC solutions, Mr Blyth says.
The FAT stood testimony to an error-free system for the locking of carriage trains within cycles so that their iron ore contents can be dumped safely onto a stacker reclaimer for storage.
“The testing with HYDAC’s tools and resources at hand enables us to review functionality and procedures and assess results so that we can assure our customer that the HPU is of high quality, to contractual specification and fit-for-purpose once on site.”
Mr Blyth points out that usually a commissioning company will send out electrical, control, mechanical, hydraulic and possibly even structural representatives to witness the FAT and undertake some of their own testing such as electrical point-to-point testing.
“In the current world we live in we knew that representatives would not be coming over for this FAT. There was a time before year end where it looked like things might open up again but everything kept changing so we knew that we wouldn’t have any representatives to witness the FAT. It was then that we started to prepare for remote FAT.”
This entailed the HYDAC engineering team prepare for a remote FAT using a programmable logic controller to “mimic” that which the commissioning company would have on site.
“We set up multiple remote Microsoft Teams’ access in March so the client could access the FAT on three different video feeds on exactly the same duty cycle that extends and retracts every 62 seconds,” Mr Blyth says.
Sharing the programmable logic controller’s screen enabled the client to monitor pump pressures, flows, and running pump temperatures.
The other screens monitored valve stations and cylinders, including all the pressure in the cylinders.
“One feed screened what valves were actuated on display lights while the second feed was like a wide-view camera at the end of the HPU that monitored the cylinders, as requested by the client,” Mr Blyth points out.
“I wore a wireless headset with audio and a microphone that allowed me to directly communicate with the client through the test – and this feed was favoured by the client.”
For part of the test Mr Blyth also wore a GoPro that permitted the client to see through his eyes. “We worked with one of our hydraulic technicians during the test procedure and we both narrated right through it.”
The client also had visibility access to separate windows that showed pressures and flows via a programmable logic controller. This enabled it to verify that HYDAC strictly followed a 25-page test procedure over two days.
The first day was centred on verifying the performance of each pump and valve station functionality, which entailed checking each function. On the second day the engineering team undertook a four-hour HPU endurance test.
During this time monitoring for any leaks, overheating or excessive vibration took place. “Two hours were spent on pumps at A and then we stopped for 20 minutes to swap the pumps at B and started up again for the following two hours,” Mr Blyth says.
Routine temperature readings of the tank were also part of the test.
“We streamed to the client all the parameters of the HPU down to the cooler inlet temperature and cooler outlet temperature so that it could do a check on the efficiency of our coolers. That was very big,” he adds.
The FAT in its entirety revealed no errors with the HPU.
“When you do two days of testing you expect to find something but nothing was found. In part of the lead-up to the FAT we did a lot of internal commissioning, setting up the pressures and running it and bleeding all the air out of the system so by the time we get to the test we were already quite confident in the system as we’d already sorted out any issues,” Mr Blyth says.
“This is just one of many tests HYDAC’s engineers have successfully accomplished due their in-depth experience in the design, specification, testing and commissioning of many types of systems and equipment.”