Wheel spindles that are renovated with lasers last longer than new ones
“Laser cladding of a wheel spindle costs maybe a fifth compared to buying a new one,” explains Lars Almqvist, who together with Kalle Thyni is responsible for the maintenance of the Caterpillar trucks at the Aitik mine. “But above all, it holds up so well. You do not have to worry about costly warehouse breakdowns. Traditional overlay welding is not an option.”
“There is no alternative method to laser cladding,” Almqvist explains. “The heat beam is small and accurate and provides high precision, which means that you can weld without affecting the surrounding base material. With traditional overlay welding, the heat impact becomes so deep that you risk a fracture indication further down or in the weld itself.”
The Aitik mine outside Gällivare is one of Europe’s largest copper mines. Every year 17-19 million metric tons of ore and 25 million metric tons of waste rock are mined here. Duroc does maintenance work using laser cladding, mainly for preventive purposes, but even more urgent issues sometimes occur.
Through a full-service agreement, PonCat handles the maintenance of the mining trucks for Boliden Mineral. Maintenance is mainly for preventive purposes. According to a rolling plan, the components are lifted out for renovation after a certain number of hours.
“We work exclusively for preventive purposes. If a component were to break down, the repair cost would be almost double,” Almqvist explains.
Laser cladding lasts twice as long as the original spindle
The fleet of Caterpillar trucks in the Aitik mine consists of six 789s and seventeen 793s. In 1995, Duroc laser renovated the first wheel spindles on the CAT 789. After eleven years, the spindles have not yet needed to be repaired or replaced. To compare with the original spindle that lasted for six years. In 2006, the newer 793 truck model was also renovated.