By Steven North, design and project engineer, Apex Hydraulics
Apex Hydraulics has a long history of producing custom built and highly specialized hydraulic cylinders for mining applications. When the company was formed in 1985, the main source of work was from mining. Now, most work comes from oil, renewable energies and factories. However, due to the decades of experience, mining companies worldwide still approach Apex Hydraulics for commissions for mining applications.
A Russian company, focused on developing highly bespoke mining machinery for coal and pot ash mines, required highly robust hydraulic cylinders to be placed inside the state-of-the-art machines. They were producing a run of three different machines, with each machine weighing up to 300 tons. Each machine required several different types of hydraulic cylinders to be manufactured.
These specialist machines were prototypes, to be tested and then sent underground for mining companies to trial, with the intention of securing sales once the machines had proved their worth. Because of this the client required the absolute best of everything, with no potential for the machine to fail or breakdown. They chose Apex, with their long history of specialist mining hydraulics, along with their innovative engineering reputation, to design and manufacture the hydraulic cylinders.
Apex Hydraulics suggested their own supreme rod coating, Corex, developed specifically for hydraulic rods that are to be used within harsh environments, subject to excessive heat, pressure and contamination. With twice the bond strength of Hard Chrome Plating at over 10,000 psi and a hardness of up to 1400 HV, Corex has exceptional resistance to the impact that it may be subject to in a mining environment from chips of rock and coal. The porosity (that can allow corrosion within the rod) is at less than 1%, as opposed to Hard Chrome plating’s 5%. These features give Corex an excellent resistance to the pitting and cracking that can allow contaminants to enter the hydraulic cylinder and will make the rod prone to rust and degrading.
Corex is more expensive than standard chrome plating. For example, a recent rod was priced at £16,000 as opposed to the HCP version at £11,000. However, in the event of machine breakdown, stripping down the entire machine and replacing the part would cost several thousand pounds, as well as another £11,000 for a replacement standard cylinder rod. Considering that in other mining applications, Corex has been seen to extend cylinder life by over 700%, the savings over the lifetime of the machine could be upwards of £80,000; not to mention the savings in terms of downtime and the priceless benefit of the reputation of the company.
In addition, the process of applying a Corex coating is more environmentally friendly then the application of Hard Chrome Plating. Combined with the reduced number of rod changes over the lifetime of a machine, this makes Corex by far the most sustainable option.
The client has been so impressed with the Corex coated hydraulic cylinder rods that they continue to request new products. All cylinders go out displaying the Union Jack, Apex logo and the Corex logo, so the client can sell the product on its provenance. The branding represents a blending of the decades of experience Apex have with mining engineering, and the cutting-edge technology, pushing forward to always develop the newest and the best.
Corex is an ideal choice for mining applications as well as many other types of industries where longevity is vital, particularly under extreme working conditions.