Measurement Solutions Blog

How can mines decrease equipment costs?

Some time ago, we wrote an article describing the differences between proactive and reactive maintenance, concluding that the former approach can help mines and quarries reduce downtime and upkeep expenses.

Developing a proactive maintenance (PM) strategy entails organising human capital, defining responsibilities and integrating daily tasks into workers' schedules. For mines and quarries that have never implemented any institutionalised maintenance approach, outlining each of these steps is important.

1. Coordinating with experts

Heavy equipment, industrial measurement instruments and a variety of other assets define the modern mine. You need to understand the factors which cause property to deteriorate and fail, but gaining a comprehensive level of insight isn't easy. 

Think of it this way: A mechanical engineer has dedicated his or her career to understanding failure rates among draglines, excavators and heavy motor vehicles. Therefore, he or she knows which actions can reduce corrosion, load stress and other debilitating factors. You may have a general idea of how to control corrosion, but you haven't studied it as assiduously.

The lesson? Consult personnel who specialise in specific areas. Gathering their knowledge will enable decision makers to develop protocols that are effective, as opposed to those that are built on supposition.

2. Establish protocols and guidelines

Once you've built relationships with industrial instrumentation service personnel, engineers and equipment experts, you can set up protocols that will cumulatively reduce failure rates. 

The processes you implement will depend on two factors: 

  1. The assets you want to protect
  2. The results of root cause analyses (RCAs) 

RCAs tell personnel why a particular piece of equipment failed. Once you understand the root cause, you seek ways to eliminate it. It's here that your consultants will likely be of huge help. According to the American Society for Quality, RCAs entail conducting causal factor charting, recommendation generation and other types of data analysis. 

After identifying each of the factors that incite equipment damage, you can implement specific processes that address them. For instance, sand-blasting excavators every seven days may reduce the pace at which corrosion occurs.

3. Assign tasks to the right personnel

It's possible that a few of the third parties with which you work are going to conduct the maintenance responsibilities you develop. For instance, it's unlikely that one of your team members is certified to configure gamma density gauges, much less capable of identifying hard-to-find issues. 

However, it costs quite a bit of money to have a third-party reliability engineer assess equipment every day. Remember, the purpose of bringing that professional into the fold is to dictate what needs to happen in order to reduce mechanical failures. For example, if a consultant maintains that an excavator should be greased every four days, then it's your job to find someone who can do so according to that schedule.

What if workers forget to clean equipment at the end of the day? Believe it or not, these seemingly harmless mistakes can hamper the continuity of a PM program. There is, however, a way to address it.

A study conducted by researchers from Nigeria's Rivers State University of Science and Technology and the UK's Cranfield University named culture as one potential problem, assuming that culture does not value equipment upkeep. If your operation is experiencing such an issue, provide on-the-ground employees with context, describing the following relationships:

  • Equipment maintenance reduces failures
  • Failures incur unexpected downtime
  • Unexpected downtime reduces a mine's productivity
  • Decreased productivity negatively impacts a mine's competitive capabilities
  • Uncompetitive mines may have to close down

When workers understand the connection between the PM program and their jobs, it could motivate them to pay extra attention to their new duties.

If you want to know how SRO Technology can be a part of your PM strategy, reach out to our team today