The company has been brought in to upgrade ‘pivotal equipment’ equipment at the Icelandic smelter and has so far saved Rio Tinto Alcan over £12,000, Brammer claims.

The company, which specialises in industrial maintenance, repair and overhaul, identified the premature failure of hydraulic hoses on bath cleaners and crust breakers at Rio Tinto Alcan’s Straumsvik smelter.

The Straumsvik facility has five of each type of vehicle, all of which use two hydraulic hoses operating at pressures of up to 250 bar (3,500 psi).

According to Brammer’s technical specialist Steve Winsland, the bath cleaners and crust breakers were making regular trips to the workshop for maintenance on their hydraulic hoses, which failed every one to two weeks when they were expected to last a year or more.

As the hoses work in harsh conditions and close to molten aluminium, which can reach temperatures of 960ºC, the extreme heat was causing the outer sheath to soften and fail. “Abrasion from the two hoses rubbing together was compounding the problem,” Winsland said, adding that downtime for these two items of mobile equipment was costing the smelter £720 per day.

The hoses were replaced by more durable versions and an insulating sleeve with a silicone cover was used to deal with the extreme heat of the plant.

The end result has been an extended hose life of up to 10 and this has reduced maintenance requirements and saved Rio Tinto Alcan considerable expense.

The new hose and sleeve combinations are being rolled out across the smelter’s entire fleet of vehicles, which means that equipment downtime and hose costs will be reduced further, Brammer claims.