Equipment longevity in a vacuum

Uneeda Vac managing director Michael Herrett told CIN Rio Tinto commissioned the Melbourne-based, family-owned business to build a vacuum cleaner for its large equipment that had the capability to self empty and clean, and could run off a 24-volt battery. The vacuum also had to be rugged enough to handle the harsh mine environment.“We visited the West Angelas mine several times to research and design the vacuum,” Herrett said.“During the design stage we had Rio Tinto contact us again to enquire about also designing an industrial vacuum for its substations at Dampier.“The Dampier idea led to the birth of the 240-volt model of the SEIV.”The company now produces two models of the vacuum, the SEIV640 for dump trucks, excavators and large equipment for any mining application, including coal mining, and the SEIV1500 for substations, offices and accommodation. However, Herrett says this is not the limit and the design is adaptable to any environment.The SEIV640 takes its name from the 640-watt motor that powers it, while the SEIV1500 is powered by a 1500W motor.The SEIV640 has a 24V three-stage tangential bypass motor, mounted in the top section of the unit, that keeps any fine dirt from entering the electrical system of the motor. The top of the unit is fitted with a Donaldson precleaner to prevent dirt entering through the cooling fan. The SEIV640 is mounted externally and ducted into the cabin of the machine via an inlet. A switch is provided on the inlet or mounted on the dashboard of the vehicle.The SEIV1500 is fitted with a 240V, 1500W, two-stage tangential bypass motor and a Donaldson precleaner. The SEIV1500 is set up like a ducted vacuum system in any residential home, but upon finishing will self empty.Herrett said both vacuums were made from 1.2 mild steel, with a steel-mounting bracket that is bolted to the chassis of the equipment or can be fitted externally to buildings as required.The total length of an SEIV is 74cm by 26cm in diameter and it weighs 14kg.“This is not a large machine, only slightly longer than your standard commercial backpack vacuum cleaner,” Herrett said.He explained in the base of the SEIV, under the motor, was a V-shaped self-cleaning denim filter that had been proven tested to not allow any dirt to pass through. “In the bottom of the base is a self-closing, sealed flap that is weighted to close when the machine is turned on and opens again when the machine is switched off, in turn emptying out the dirt,” Herrett said.“The base can also be fitted with an attachment to secure a drainage hose to allow dirt to move around other parts of the machinery.”Herrett says he believes there is nothing on the market that comes close to the Uneeda Vac SEIV and it will outlast other machines four to one.“On studying vacuums presently being used in the mining industry, we found they were made from plastic and made only for commercial cleaning of offices, schools and the like,” he said.“These plastic units are made with the motor in the base of the vacuum cleaner, filtered by a fine material bag and because the dirt is so fine, it is sucked through the material bag into the motor area and into the electrical section of the motor.“This typical vacuum method will destroy one of these machines in less than six months.“The plastic units do not empty themselves either, they rely on the driver at the end of a 12-hour shift to want to, or even remember to, empty the vacuum bag.“The SEIV will never need manual emptying and will only need maintenance once every 12 months.”Rather than destroy a machine, the SEIV640 fitted to a dump truck or excavator will increase the life span of all the electrical equipment and switches in the cabin, Herrett said.The SEIV will also provide a healthier environment for the driver and decrease maintenance, and therefore costs, on the truck. Herrett said Rio Tinto fitted its first SEIV640 to a Hitachi EX5500 excavator early last month and would be fitting its second unit shortly. Rio Tinto has already indicated it would continue to fit the vacuums to all new and existing equipment across its operations. Likewise, LeTourneau Technologies Australia is installing the SEIV640 on all new equipment and gradually introducing the units on large equipment already in use out in the field.SEIVs have been delivered to HWE Mining, BHP Billiton, WesTrac and Hitachi for trials and are available in Western Australia through CMPS Supply Solutions.The distributor for South Australia and the Northern Territory is Northern Agencies in Whyalla.

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