As is their nature, mining professionals have taken on the challenge of
maintenance and equipment reliability and are reaping the benefits from
strategic planning and program implementation to increase equipment efficiency
and cost-effectiveness. From RCM II to maintenance and repair contracts
(MARCs) with equipment suppliers, today’s mines are extending
equipment life to keep the operation running.
The CIM Coal and Oil Sands Operators’ Conference in Jasper this
October featured a session on managing maintenance. Presenters shared
how their mine sites are using different strategies for handling equipment
maintenance. Prairie Coal and Royalty Ltd. is focusing on detailed planning
and applying reliability centred maintenance (RCM II); Albian Sands relies
on MARCs with their key suppliers. Elk Valley Coal Corporation (EVCC)
handles its maintenance in-house, with best practice sharing and a reliability
engineering team across the five operations. All three companies have
circumstances that make their maintenance strategy appropriate for their
operation; and each organization is realizing improved equipment reliability,
while simultaneously, all three highlighted areas that could be improved
in their maintenance program. The possible approaches and major challenges
make managing the maintenance of mobile mine equipment a true
conundrum that will continue to be a focus of innovative thinking.
It’s about planning
At Prairie Coal, maintenance has experienced vast improvements,
thanks to new efforts for keeping equipment utilization up. A strategic
approach to planning is keeping maintenance jobs on time, and is greatly
reducing the number of emergency jobs for the maintenance department.
“All non-emergency jobs are planned by the maintenance planners,”
said Dean Jeffrey, senior maintenance planner, Prairie Coal. “Labour time
estimates are done for all routine work, which eliminates the wasting of
The company took a hard look at their maintenance performance a few
years ago, and “we found we weren’t world class,” Jeffrey said.
“Operators were identifying problems, but no feedback was coming to
them from maintenance on the jobs requested, and problems were not
always documented.” A backlog of work orders sat unevaluated and was
not used for work scheduling or manpower and parts planning.
Targets and key performance indicators (KPI) were identified to guide
the transformation of the maintenance program. And once proper planning
became the norm, the results were obvious.
“Planning is a process; it’s always updated,” Jeffrey said. “To plan can
be defined as the art and science of getting your act together before spending
your money. And the job planning process defined the details necessary
to perform the job.”
Maintenance workforce productivity increased through the elimination
of some clerical tasks, reducing the time waiting for work orders, materials,
and instructions. Tasks now take much less time. For
instance, the required man hours to overhaul a dozer
undercarriage has decreased from 128 to 90 man hours.