Underground mining is an industry like no other — it places demands on man and machine alike, and is widely acknowledged as one of the most hazardous work environments in the world.
The release of the all-new SSKV/SKV ‘stapleless’ hydraulic fittings is the latest initiative by Pirtek to provide underground operators with a revolutionary, Australian-first product that improves safety for both operators and technicians alike.
Designed to remove the need for a staple-like locking pin (a technology that’s been used to couple hydraulic hoses for decades), the Pirtek range of SSKV/SKV stapleless hydraulic fittings have been subjected to more than 12 months of rigorous testing prior to launch.
The SSKV (high-pressure) and SKV (low-pressure) hydraulic hose fittings combine a state-of-the-art locking collar and ring assembly — in place of a ‘staple’ — to secure male and female couplings together.
The collar, a two-piece cylindrical enclosure, fits securely around both the male and female ends of the hose coupling. Precision machine grooves on the male and female coupling ends match with grooves on the collar. The collar then forms an effective ‘clamp’ around both sides of the coupling. It is secured using a large threaded locking ring matched to threads on the collar.
The locking rings thread easily onto the collar, much like a normal nut. When secured, the collar prevents the two hose ends from separating, even when under extreme pressure. The disassembly process (a reversal of the assembly) prevents the accidental removal of a staple from conventional hydraulic couplings when under pressure, as the locking ring cannot be unthreaded until the pressure is relieved from the system.
Once the hydraulic pressure has been switched off and the system completely isolated, disassembling the coupling is a matter of unthreading the locking rings and removing the collar.
Pirtek Group General Manager, Stephen Dutton, says decoupling a hydraulic hose under pressure causes considerable risk to operators and service technicians. “The safe use of hydraulics is a major OH&S issue for any mining or industrial operation.”
The SSKV/SKV system of coupling does not require any specialist tools, and can be completed by a qualified technician within minutes.
Dutton says conventional hydraulic fittings are usually secured using a variety of staple-type systems. “This proven method has existed for many decades, but it has several key disadvantages when compared with SSKV/SKV fittings. Most staple-type fittings employ a ‘U’-shaped staple hammered through the (outer) female fitting, which locks into a groove on the (inner) male fitting.
“The staple effectively locks both fittings together, but the staple can still be easily removed when the hose is under pressure. Rapid pressure relief in such situations can have disastrous effects.
“To add to the risk, staples often corrode into place over time, requiring the use of a large hammer to remove them. This in itself poses risks to operators and technicians. SSKV/SKV fittings remove these risks, significantly improving workplace safety in the process.”
In addition, the zinc-plated SSKV/SKV fittings, when assembled using the correct Pirtek lanolinbased lubricant, will not corrode together, making disassembly easier when servicing is required.
SSKV/SKV hydraulic couplings attach to the actual hydraulic hose by means of the same crimping or threading process as conventional hydraulic hose fittings. They can be assembled on site or at any of Pirtek’s Service and Supply centres as per normal hydraulic hoses. They can also be retrofitted in place of any type of hydraulic hose or coupling.
Now in its 31st year, Pirtek has a long history of delivering quality hoses, couplings and fluid transfer services to the mining industry. In the 1980s the company made a conscious decision to focus much of its research and development on the mining industry.
“It was clear in those early days that mining was going to play a significant role in Australian industry,” Dutton says. “Safety has always been our numberone priority, and one of the best ways to improve conditions on site is to deliver superior-quality product to customers. In fact, the mining industry insists on quality products that are both safe and cost-effective.
“Any product we introduce has to be designed to reduce the incidence of workplace injury and meet strict MDG41 guidelines, while remaining affordable. The key is being able to deliver that safety at a price where the product will be taken up by customers – and that’s one of Pirtek’s strengths.”
Pirtek’s extensive engineering expertise and continued drive for excellence have been demonstrated by its launch of more than 10 unique mining-specific products in recent years, including the Pirtek one-piece hose manifold system, Wedge Key manifold, hose grip restraints, ‘Pirchek’ anti hose-whip device, and a hose refurbishment/reeling program.
In addition to product, Pirtek provides customers with a range of hose management programs and highpressure fluid management plans. These programs monitor the use and life of hydraulic hoses and components to assist customers with their correct operation and maintenance.
Pirtek takes great pride in the way it develops products for the Australian market. BPI Technologies Australia, Pirtek’s research and development facility, spent more than 12 months testing and validating the design of the SSKV/SKV hydraulic fitting before it was released to the market.
BPI Technologies was established in 2008 as the South-Pacifi c arm of a joint venture between Bridgestone, Pirtek and Intertraco. It is the only NATA (National Association of Testing Authorities)-certified facility dedicated to the development of hydraulic hose assemblies in Australia.
More than $2 million has been invested in laboratory equipment for the site. “Key to the site’s success is its ability to test hoses to destruction in a safe and controlled environment using the only impulse test machine known to be operating in the country,” Dutton says.
“This facility enables Pirtek to make use of its extensive global knowledge so that superior quality products can be delivered to our customers both here and around the world.”
Pirtek goes beyond only offering product and management systems by implementing a comprehensive nationwide training and certification program for technicians as part of its focus on service and safety.
Pirtek trains each assembly and installation technician under its own nationally recognised qualification — Certificate II in high-pressure hose assembly. The company is a nationally accredited training organisation, certified through regulatory body Vetab.
Administered by a national training manager at Pirtek’s Sydney headquarters, training targets all areas of the business, including the OEM division, Service and Supply Centres, and Mobile Service Units.
Only fully trained technicians are able to manufacture or install and Pirtek hose. “Our research and development programs ensure our product is designed to the highest standard — so it’s important that the same quality is carried through to the manufacturing and fitting stage,” Dutton says.
In recognition of its initiatives, the company received a BHP Health, Safety and Environment award for the development and implementation of High Pressure Fluid Management Systems.
Pirtek is a proud family-owned Australian company that has grown into one of the world’s largest industrial franchise companies operating across every continent of the globe. In Australia, service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week via a fleet of more than 320 mobile service units and 92 strategically located Service and Supply Centres.
For more information on Pirtek’s products and services call 132 444 or visit www.pirtek.com.au