There is a maintenance and reliability revolution underway at Teck Resources Limited’s coal division. The transition from time-based to condition-based component replacement, and the incorporation of precision maintenance practices, like proactively filtering oil on the wheel motors of its Komatsu 930E haul trucks, is saving the company almost $1.5 million over the life cycle of each truck.
This is an example of how the maintenance and reliability program works – taking a best practice at one site, in this case Fording River operations, and sharing it with the others. “Rather than wait for an oil analysis to recommend a filtration, the wheel motors are proactively filtered,” says Jeff Smith, reliability lead at Teck. “Over the truck’s life, on time-based replacements, we would usually replace the wheel motors five or six times – now we only replace them twice. When you consider it’s $1.2 million to buy a new wheel motor, or $250,000 to rebuild one of them, and we have a fleet of 80 haul trucks – that’s a solid example of a best practice.”
Teck is the world’s second-largest exporter of seaborne steelmaking coal, with five coal mines in British Columbia and one in Alberta; as such, best practices can go a long way when implemented across operations. Teck’s program, which recently won Uptime magazine’s Best Emerging Maintenance Reliability Program Award, was designed to unify its mine sites and reduce costs by 20 per cent.
Software keeps hardware in check
On the road to that 20 per cent reduction, there have been many challenges, such as aligning maintenance with operations. “Operations have expectations where they want to use their assets and their assets are not going to break down,” says Smith. “But maintenance has requirements too – you can’t run something 24-7 without checking it at certain intervals – so we had to establish realistic expectations.”
A full-scale enterprise resource planning system was brought in to support the initiative, consisting of Dynamics AX from Microsoft coupled with an enterprise asset management application called Daxeam from Eclipse Computing. "This supports our core maintenance functions for planning, scheduling, work orders and work management," Smith says.
Additionally, Teck began using an engineering tool called “Availability Work Bench,” which facilitates the study of assets for Reliability Centered Maintenance reports.
“In addition, we’re building a closed-loop continuous improvement system utilizing Daxeam which has a Failure Reporting Analysis Corrective Action System, or FRACAS, process built into it,” Smith says.
As a result, maintenance work is designed in Availability Work Bench, managed within Daxeam, and then the failure codes and defect codes that are part of the FRACAS process are to be fed back into Availability Work Bench to identify gaps or optimization opportunities. “The closed-loop system enables sustainable, continuous improvement,” explains Smith. “You get better and better at the game – it’s a journey, not a destination.”