Keech Australia has urged quarry operators and contractors to understand the importance of quality and regular inspections in managing the whole of life cost of Ground Engaging Tools (GET).

Mark Adams, territory and export manager at Keech Australia observed that while there was pressure to reduce costs during tough times, accepting the cheapest price for a critical operational consumable created a false economy.

He explains that the total cost per machine hour is a more relevant benchmark and comprises of a number of factors, with initial cost being just one of them. For instance, long life is ensured with strong wear parts and GET, while good design and high manufacturing standards minimise the chances of failure and costly unscheduled maintenance on a key production machine.

Keech employs field engineers headed by Chandra Mpral to work with end users, either directly or through dealers to match GET to the site conditions and owner priorities. The field team ensures that correct procedures are in place to measure wear, change teeth and generally manage GET and wear parts.

According to Chandra, problems in the field can often be traced to incorrect procedures or tools, which can increase the changeover time for GET, increasing downtime and resulting in lost production.

Each box of GET contains instructions on fitting the tools, complete with a supporting manual and data sheets including field instructions for using the gauges to measure wear, and determining when to replace GET. The objective is to maximise the life of the GET without impacting performance and fuel consumption, or causing wear to other parts that can be expensive and time-consuming to repair or replace, and without risking failure.

To ensure customers have access to GET procedures in the event these are misplaced or lost, Keech will soon launch a password-protected website.

Chandra comments that GET tools, in some applications are designed to have up to 65% of their mass lost in wear before replacement.

Keech also relies on feedback from the field for the ongoing development of GET, with a team of engineers performing hand calculations and Finite Element Analysis of new designs that can withstand substantially higher forces than the specification of the machine to which they are fitted.

Products are designed to a 50% higher rating than general design conventions to handle unexpected impact loads, and are tested against major global competitors to be at least on par; Keech often records 15-20% greater strength in destructive testing.

In its 80th year, Keech continues to reinvent itself through innovation and attention to quality. Its subsidiary Keech 3D is at the forefront of 3D printing technology, allowing Keech to develop and refine new designs quickly and economically where previously patternmaking was a bottleneck in product development.

Keech QA Manager Bala Hebbar is proud of the QA systems and procedures that have been developed at Keech, and which have earned ISO9001 Quality Accreditation. He explains that everything from the selection of raw materials to the finishing of the completed product is carefully controlled. Keech has three core sets of procedures in place covering standard manufacturing processes, how each individual part is made and how non-compliance is handled to ensure continuous improvement.

Staff training has been prioritised at Keech and computer screens have been installed throughout the factory for staff access. Checklists are provided for each batch to ensure that all procedures are followed during manufacturing.

To Mark Adams, this all adds up to Keech providing the lowest overall GET cost through a combination of design, field support, quality and innovation.