Mining companies have more to think about than just the extracting and processing of minerals and materials. They have to consider the well-being and safety of the workers, manage operating schedules, plan equipment maintenance, and more. Speaking of maintenance, that’s what we’re going to cover here. 

How can a mining equipment maintenance strategy be planned in the challenging conditions of the mining industry? 

Why planning a maintenance strategy is important

 

It’s important for management to maintain a consistent and reliable maintenance schedule. A clear line of communication that responds to the needs of workers and their equipment, will ensure there are no hiccups along the way.

Managers need to understand the equipment used on their sites. There is a rate of optimal equipment performance that will eventually go down with wear and tear. For example, HDD mining equipment requires drilling rods to do most of the work, and they have a typical lifespan of about 20 years. That number may shrink due to the increase in HDD rig efficiency, meaning it’s important for the maintenance planning team to understand the equipment’s life cycle.

This is only a small aspect maintenance managers have to take care of. It’s about understanding how the equipment is directly affecting production loss and operational efficiency. 

The main components of a maintenance plan

 

A few components need to be taken into account before planning the optimum maintenance strategy. Consider the following points.

Downtime 

Time is money in the mining industry. Mining businesses require equipment to be running almost all the time, so scheduled equipment downtime is extremely important to maintenance planning. With an organised downtime and scheduled maintenance, production loss can be better planned for and recouped. This means that workers can be organised and better positioned to focus their work somewhere else.

Preventative maintenance

There’s more to maintenance than just repairing any wear and tear. It comes down to ensuring that the equipment is up to its task 100% of the time. Unscheduled maintenance due to breakdowns or machinery faults can be catastrophic for mining companies. This not only negatively affects the company finances, but is detrimental to worker safety. 

Taking this into account, it’s important that maintenance teams not only do visual inspections of equipment, but also maintain high levels of standards for equipment performance. 

Predictive maintenance ensures that mining operations aren’t unexpectedly interrupted by equipment failure and that workers are kept safe.

Employ high levels of safety as standard

As we have just briefly covered, a maintenance strategy takes into account safety. Yes, even in maintenance, worker safety should always be a priority. This is more than just providing the correct PPE, but ensuring maintenance tasks and operations are known to everyone on site. 

Mine sites require a lot of moving parts, and have multiple operations going on at once. There can be blasting in one location, and drilling in another, and sometimes communication between the teams can become brittle. This should always be fixed in a timely fashion, and any maintenance currently going on should be outlined and delineated with signs and bollards. This establishes a visual connection to anyone near the site that equipment is currently undergoing repairs.

Maintenance costs

It’s important to understand the company’s budget and how much they have to spend on maintenance costs. The mining sector is known for its wavering material costs and output rates. So it’s understandable that companies are always prioritising their budget where operations are concerned. With that said, equipment maintenance should always be high on the priority list. 

Whilst maintenance may not have a direct correlation to profit, it can severely affect it. A company that doesn’t have any room in the budget for maintenance can quickly see itself going under. 

Although it’s all well and good to prioritise maintenance, it’s vital to factor in the budget. Unreliable equipment will require a higher rate of equipment downtime to ensure it runs safely and properly. If a piece of equipment is costing more to maintain than it is producing income, then it might be time for a replacement. 

In need of a reliable replacement? 

 

Vermeer WA & NT is your go-to mining equipment supplier. We have a range of hydro excavation rigs, HDD rigs, and surface miners. All of these are designed and constructed to be reliable, easy to use, and easy to maintain. This means less set-up time, operating costs, and less stress when it comes to maintenance. 

We also have a maintenance service for a range of equipment and items. Get in touch today, for everything relating to construction and mining equipment. Email us at info@vermeer-want.com.au or call us on (08) 9479 4994

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