One of our specialists recently returned from a site in a third world country. The scope of our review was to identify where their maintenance systems and practices needed to improve in order to improve the reliability performance of their fleet. Our specialist found that the truck fleet was performing around 80% availability and that the site had zero systems for maintenance in place. There was no CMMS system or work management processes and work was simply performed based on what the people retained in their memory.
However in one area, where we often find the worst results (the drilling fleet), our specialist found world-class levels of availability, greater than 90%. The reason for these excellent results was the fact that the owner of the drill fleet recognized that his job was much easier and costs were lower when the equipment performed well. Keeping the equipment performing well came down to his insistence on the highest quality of the work completed on the machines. When there was so much as a scratch on the machines, he insisted this was repainted and people to explain how this occurred. No machine went back to work after maintenance without his review of quality.
Bluefield has seen this type of excellent performance, without systems, in the past (We are sure others have also). It is easy to do with a small fleet and small team, but by combining the focus on equipment health and ensuring action is taken in a proactive manner to correct small deviations from excellent health, or raising the standards of what is acceptable condition, it is also possible to achieve these results in large fleets with large teams. Of course, in these large teams the systems are also critical. However, the systems alone will never deliver the world class results that many large organisation are searching for.
Maintaining equipment in a proactive manner to improve the MTBF and availability requires us to take action to correct oil cleanliness when it reaches a level that will start to degrade the component condition, it requires bolts to be correctly torqued, equipment to be aligned correctly when it is installed or replaced, welding repairs to be done with correct weld procedures and to blend grind out potential stress points, electrical connects to be terminated correctly, equipment to be kept clean and free from spillage or dust build up, equipment to be operated within its design limits and offsite repairs to be conducted with the same level of focus on quality. These things not only improve MTBF, but they also eliminate work and cost associated with a reactive approach to maintaining equipment.
"The difficulty for some is that work quality and equipment health standards are hard to measure and display in reports, it requires leadership to look critically at the equipment as they would their own car after a service"
Over the past 5 years Bluefield has proven our processes that enable companies, large and small, to achieve great improvement in mining equipment reliability (MTBF) and availability by assisting our clients to incorporate these quality standards into the asset management culture.