By Jesse Morton, Technical Writer

The supply chain issues affecting OEMs and their customers in the big slurry pump space are nothing new. According to a longtime expert and company owner, they have been around in some form or another for at least the last few years. It is within the last couple of years that they became critical. “Products and materials that were available in a few days or weeks now can take several months,” said Nick Schur. “Every plant we visit tells us the same thing, ‘we can’t get parts.’”

For example, recently one miner told him it lost 16 hours of production for lack of a $20 part that had been on order for more than six months. “This new normal has forced maintenance departments to change the way they plan for major outages and basic day-to-day repairs.”

It has also changed the posture and offerings of the OEMs. The new pumps out now require less maintenance, are easier to repair, and are backed by, or are part of, service programs that simplify maintenance and repairs. All of that speaks to helping a customer beat supply chain and labor market challenges. And it is but one example of how the latest offerings and developments on and in the market are geared towards beating those persistent challenges.

Schurco Slurry stocks a wide range of pumps and parts for rapid distribution as part of its Pump and Bearing Assembly Exchange-Repair Programs. Above, a recent repair. (Image: Schurco Slurry)

Pump Exchange-repair Programs

Schurco Slurry said its exchange and repair programs help participating customers answer constraints presented by both the labor market and supply chain. “Schurco Slurry created Pump and Bearing Assembly Exchange-Repair Programs for facilities that operate Schurco and Warman slurry pumps,” Schur, president of the company, said. “These programs not only alleviate supply chain and personnel issues, but also reduce the plants’ inventory and has them operating pumps with a warranty.”

The constraints posed by the trends can often show up as parts shortages, long lead and delivery times on parts, and insufficient manpower at the mine to do the repairs and maintenance. “Schurco can erase each of these issues with our Pump and Bearing Assembly Exchange-Repair Programs,” Schur said.

The supplier maintains on hand inventory for more than 75 Schurco pumps and more than 100 bearing assembly units. “We can ship the same day, or in 2 to 3 days, guaranteed,” he said. “Just let us know the pump or bearing assembly manufacturer, model, size and materials of construction and we will have equipment on the road.”

Once the exchange equipment arrives, “the worn pump or bearing assembly is removed and the dimensionally and hydraulically interchangeable Schurco exchange unit is installed,” Schur said. “When the worn unit is ready to be shipped back to Schurco, just mount it on our heavy-duty shipping skid and we schedule pick up,” he said. “Once we receive it, the worn unit will be disassembled, evaluated, and a detailed report sent with a quote that is to be completed.”

Benefits include increases in efficiency and ease of maintenance and planning. There is “no waiting, no plant expertise needed to repair, no worry about parts availability,” Schur said. “And unlike repairs by the customer’s personnel, the pump or bearing assembly is now operating with our Schurco Slurry warranty.”

The programs are gaining in popularity as the trends persist. “In 2022 we completed 71 exchange-repairs with partners in sand and gravel, copper, gold, power, coal processing, and cement plants,” he said. “In January 2023, we completed 16 exchange-repairs.”

The programs have enabled customers to conduct business as usual, which these days is considered value added. “As one mine manager told me, ‘We are experts at mining. We get paid to mine ore, separate and extract the valuable material that makes our company money, not repair pumps and equipment,’” Schur said. “‘That’s your job so we do not have down time and keep operating.’”

This article was excerpted from a larger article published in the March 2023 edition of Engineering & Mining Journal (E&MJ).