A sweet partnership: Getting Queensland’s sugar on a smooth ride

As the organisation responsible for managing the storage and timely shipment of Queensland’s raw sugar exports, Queensland Sugar Limited (QSL) puts a lot of emphasis on safe and efficient operations.

QSL’s Operations division provides operational services for Sugar Terminals Limited’s (STL’s) six bulk sugar terminals at Cairns, Mourilyan, Townsville, Lucinda, Mackay and Bundaberg. In an average year, STL’s terminals handle around 3.5 million tonnes of raw sugar. With such a critical responsibility, ensuring maximum efficiency at the terminals is a top priority for QSL.

As a key distributor of engineering products and services across multiple industries in Australia, BSC has been supplying essential products to QSL’s Operations teams for some time. Shell Omala Industrial Gear Oil and Shell Gadus grease are two important products that BSC regularly supplies to QSL.

Apart from being an industrial supplies distributor, BSC specialists have also assisted the QSL Operations team in the past to gain better understanding of lubrication best practices. More recently, BSC’s Area Account Manager Paul King and Reliability Engineer Michael Phillips conducted a thorough lubrication survey at the Cairns and Mourilyan terminals to make sure the conveyors and ship loaders were running optimally.

“Conveyor systems make up our main mechanical infrastructure,” says Jason Clark, QSL’s Mourilyan Terminal Supervisor. “The sugar is received, stored and finally shipped through the conveyor system. So, we needed to make sure that the pulley bearings and the gearboxes that drive the conveyor belts were being lubricated properly and that our team were doing everything right.”

By going through every drive unit and gearbox, as well as speaking to the maintenance team about their maintenance routines, the BSC team was able to outline areas where the terminals could enhance their lubrication efficiencies.

“The report we received from BSC post the lubrication audit was incredibly thorough,” says Jason. “They have recommended a range of products available that enable us to automate some of our critical bearings, leaving more time available for our skilled workforce to focus on continuous improvement and preventative maintenance.”

Paul recommends using lubrication surveys to avoid common mistakes associated with lubrication.

“Through a lubrication survey, we can find out if someone is over-lubricating or under-lubricating their bearings, whether they are using the right lubricant for their application or whether there is any risk of cross contamination on the site,” he explains.

As a specialist on Shell products and a valued member of the Viva Energy Technical Helpdesk team, Silvana Farrugia also shares her expertise on gearbox lubrication best practices.

“Always check the service manual for the correct lubricant recommended by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM),” she points out. “The OEM will have performed viscosity calculations based on operating conditions, speeds and loads, to ensure the desired film thickness is always maintained. The OEM will also have considered the type of base oil required, for example, a synthetic lubricant may be required for higher operating temperatures. These lubricants will have a much better resistance to thermal degradation, and better oxidation stability.”

“Once the correct lubricant has been chosen, it is important to turn our attention to maintaining gearbox performance,” Silvana adds. “Gearboxes often run in dirty and dusty environments. It is important to avoid ingress of contamination to avoid wear and foaming, which can lead to overheating, and poor lubrication. The gearbox should be cleaned before topping up and breathers should be checked to ensure that they are the correct type and clean. Any condensation that enters through the breather can cause the formation of sludge, which can also lead to foaming.”

The partnership between BSC and Viva Energy, which is reflected in the collaboration for supply of high-quality Shell Lubricants to the QSL Operations division, is one that Jason and his team appreciate greatly.

“We have been using Shell products for some time, so we were pleased to learn that BSC were suppliers of Shell Lubricants. We use Shell Lubricants in all of our bearings and gearboxes on terminal conveyor systems,” he says.

“The BSC team is always only a phone call away and always ready to assist where they can. Their back up service has been first rate,” he adds.

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