JV Article: From Hammer to Hydraulics – Evolving the Whisler-Style Lip

SaberEdge machined lip for rope shovels. Credit: CR powered by Epiroc

Whisler-style lips have been around since the 1950s and have become a synonym for rope shovel lips.

In the early days, electric rope shovel manufacturers used Whisler-style lips that had mechanically attached adapters secured by hammer-type locks.

A mature lip in need of a refresh

Although the hammer-type locks worked well to secure the adapters, they were dangerous for users to install due to the risk of injury from metal fragments breaking off and striking users. This drove the evolution towards screw-type locks to secure the adapters.

However, the locks created issues with the adapters becoming loose, requiring ongoing lip maintenance and retightening of the adapter during operations. As a result, additional steel pieces had to be welded to the lip to keep adapters better stabilized. This created different maintenance requirements during the repair of the bucket.

The challenges were clear: adapter wear, high maintenance requirements, and safety concerns with hammer usage.

An innovative solution

Berkeley Forge & Tools, a GET manufacturer based in California with a proud history of supplying mining equipment components since 1948, accepted the challenge, investing years in research and development and ultimately creating a Whisler-style lip that would eliminate those issues through the hammerless lip system SaberEdge.

Machined adapters and lip stations fit securely together, minimizing lip wear and maintenance. Credit: CR Powered By Epiroc

SaberEdge’s unique hydraulic retention system is world-first. Hydraulic pressure installs adapters tightly without the need for retightening during operations. Its integrated stabilization system, together with the hydraulic attachments system, reduces maintenance on the lip drastically.

The system quickly established itself as a leader in the market, digging in copper mines from Chile to Canada, as well as in iron ore.

“The SaberEdge lips are easy to maintain and don’t require special tools to install the GET. The advanced hydraulic adapter attachment system is one of a kind. Once the adapter is installed, you won’t need to touch it again until it’s time to be replaced,” Michael Meidow, CR Vice President of Technical Support, explains.

“We frequently get positive feedback from bucket shops that they can focus just on the bucket, without any need for work on the lip, reducing turnaround time,” Meidow says. “The labour shortage in the mines is a big issue; by saving an average of 400 hours of lip maintenance labour per bucket rebuild, buckets are back digging earlier.”

Berkeley Forge was acquired in 2019 by CR Powered By Epiroc, a global supplier of lips, GET, wear products, and digital solutions. It was a match made in heaven, with CR bringing its own history of innovation, from developing industry-standard Hurricane™ dragline buckets to introducing the world’s first cast lip for wheel loaders, DecaEdge.

Looking to the future

SaberEdge has been proven to withstand the harshest digging conditions, and now one of the lips is being fitted in the oil sands, one of the highest abrasion commodities.

Joe Lindekugel, CR Vice President – North America, sees this next step as a natural progression, saying, “customers notably experience an increase in machine reliability and reduced maintenance due to SaberEdge’s adapter stabilization being built into the lip instead of welded on, eliminating the cracks at welds in the adapter lock keyholes. Combined with machined, close tolerance fits and hydraulic locks, movement between the adapter and lip is eliminated, and maintenance is drastically reduced, resulting in less rebuild time, lower cost, and higher dipper availability.” 

Regional Sales Manager Bob Kriss has spent over two decades working with SaberEdge lips. In his experience, “when customers hear about SaberEdge’s value for money, they are amazed. One iron ore mine said they were particularly impressed by SaberEdge’s reliability compared with a conventional Whisler-style lip. In fact, they are in the process of converting their entire fleet to SaberEdge.”

CR has a long history of innovation and pioneering solutions, with a strong focus on improving results through added operational efficiencies and reducing cost and emissions. SaberEdge has been a natural extension of CR’s ethos.

The preceding Joint Venture Article is PROMOTED CONTENT sponsored by CR Powered by Epiroc and produced in co-operation with CANADIANMININGJOURNAL.com. Visit: www.crmining.com for more information



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