Operational Readiness Spares Analysis

January 31, 2019


Bluefield has marked the 18-month milestone of our continuous involvement in a fixed plant spare parts identification campaign for a new 85 MTPA processing plant – the world's largest new mining project. 

This plant has over 430MW of installed power including 172MW in SAG and Ball mills and 27MW in conveyors. There are over 1600 electric motors, 900 pumps, 100 flotation cells and 15,000 conveyor idlers. Our team has correlated spares information for more than 5,000 separate pieces of mechanical equipment from over 170 supply contracts.



Key Learnings

Five key learnings that all greenfield mining project teams should consider are: 

  1. Start operational readiness from day zero – engage the asset management team from concept to execution 
  2. Drawings are the best source of spares information and are what operations & maintenance will turn to first – focus effort in contracts to ensure quality standard drawings are delivered 
  3. Use a single database for all asset information to simplify analysis and handover to operations 
  4. Channel and filter master data before it reaches your ERP/CMMS 
  5. Allow for 12-18 months validation after start-up. 

Operational Readiness (OR) ensures the business ramps up to name plate throughput as scheduled. OR minimises the set-backs that erode expected performance. 

 Operational Readiness Spares Analysis

Start Operational Readiness from Day Zero 

The OR process should start at the project concept phase and continue through pre-feasibility, feasibility and execution. 

At the concept phase develop your OR budget. Projects above $100M typically allow 3% of the total project cost for organisational development of OR specific resources and allow 5-7% of total equipment capital cost for procurement of spares.

Significant cost savings come from having an asset management viewpoint during tendering and contract award. In one example, a supply of a range of spare gearboxes from one vendor went up 70 – 445 % of the original capital contract unit price. 

Price gouging can be avoided by understanding what high value capital and insurance spares are required and adding these to your project supply contracts. 

Input from the OR team helps rationalise components and reduce spares requirements.  

Better defining contract deliverables to support the OR process will avoid being at the mercy of uninterested vendors. 

Do not wait until execution to initiate your OR plans. Develop asset management strategies early and use these to improve your whole of life cost. 


Drawings – the Best Source of Spares Information 

We have worked with thousands of maintenance professionals from many different industries around the world. When we ask them how all the parts go together or what they need fix it, they will most often answer by saying that they look at the drawings. 

During the project we were given more than 190,000 vendor documents including drawings, manuals, lists and schedules. 

Vendor recommended spares lists were almost always incomplete, inaccurate or insufficient to identify where, how and why the spare was required. 

Installation and operation manuals often contained insufficient, incomplete, or ineligible spares information. The exception being where the manuals included high quality detailed drawings and/or separate parts catalogues. 

Drawings are the best source of spares information. 

Drawing standards should be specified in contracts and carefully managed for quality. Examples of poor drawing standards are using parts lists inserted as an image from another source and using text fonts that make O and 0 and I and 1 look the same. 

Information from good quality drawings can be quickly and efficiently read and analysed. 


Use a Single Database for all Asset Information 

Developing and maintaining quality information for 5,000 plus assets from 190,000 plus documents will always be challenging. It becomes more difficult when there is a lack of interconnectivity between the various information sources. 

A way to look at information such as project drawings, manuals, lists and schedules, is to link them with the asset for which they belong.  

As OR documents and records are created, ensure these new files are linked directly to the asset they relate. 

This enables OR work to be planned, coordinated and controlled more efficiently and gives greater transparency over the entire process.  

It also better enables the O&M team when the asset information is handed over.


Channel and filter Master Data before it reaches the ERP/CMMS 

Garbage In equals Garbage Out. The volume of information, variety of sources, and number of people involved in collating, reviewing, interpreting, extracting and forming decisions regarding the data that is entered into the ERP / CMMS makes the system vulnerable to large volume quality deficits which can take years to remediate. 

It is improved by having master data collaborated and analysed in a single database before it is loaded into the ERP. 

This helps enhance and enrich the data and allows duplicates, human errors, missing data sets and changes to be easily carried out. 

Linking this back to a single database for asset information allows further computational analysis to reveal patterns, trends, and associations that otherwise may not be realised. 


Allow for 12-18 months validation after start-up 

Avoid having the project OR team hand over to operations expecting them to use the next decade or more to get on top of your continuous improvement process. 

Likewise, do not expect OR information to be 100% complete or correct when it's handed over. 

It is crucial to include in your OR plan at least 12-18 months of ongoing support by the OR team after start-up. 

Validation should start during construction and commissioning. For example, conduct walk-downs and capture OEM information when vendor goods arrive. 

Onsite validation involves checking strategies, maintenance plans, resource levels, processes, tooling and spares, on the job, with the people doing the work. 

This process not only improves the accuracy of the OR work but goes a long way to get operations to accept and own the decisions that are made along the path and often well before they become involved.