How to optimise and sustain mechanical availability through cost-effective outsourced maintenance

Contract mining and equipment capabilities

Prior to the founding of Tacmin Madini (a company specialising in the provision of consultancy and management services relating to open-pit mining, engineering, equipment and contracting) during my employment with an open-pit contracting mining company, I thought I had equipment selection studies all figured out.

Having worked through the construction ranks of estimating and turning to account to managing of multiple mass earthwork projects, surely I was adequately equipped with the knowledge and experience in equipment selections, production, cost estimations and real-time operating and maintenance cost of equipment?

Equipment selection and maintenance costs

Since the inception of Tacmin, and following many years of working with numerous owner teams in all aspects of open-pit mining, engineering, equipment and contracting, we soon came to the conclusion that the results of fleet selections, equipment bench-marking and capital recommendation studies can vary significantly unless;

●  Equipment selections form an integral part of mine designs, production schedules and geology and are directly linked to short, medium and long-term mine plans.

●  Mine site simulations are based upon the spatial position of the projected pit, haul road and dump geometry for the consecutive periods as reflected in the production schedules.

●  Owner mining operating costs are broken down and equipment maintenance and repairs were reconciled. i.e. determination and utilisation of labour, parts, consumables, components and repairs for any period under consideration.

●  Production estimates/projections are based upon practically achievable equipment capabilities and mineability assessments of designs and plans were reconciled against realistic hours achievable.

●  Mining cost estimation and scheduling software should be capable of rapid evaluation of multiple variables and alternative case scenarios to amongst others cater for weather constraints, logistical supplies, varying production, mechanical availability, autonomous mining, diesel vs diesel-electric and OEM comparisons.

●  Aforesaid fleet selections with mining and maintenance cost estimations should directly link to the production schedule and budget forecast.

Mechanical maintenance cost comparisons

With equipment selections and mechanical maintenance cost estimation assessments now properly under control, we could and apart from the standard owner versus contractor trade-off, have carried out numerous studies of mining equipment ranging from 90-380 ton truck size, which enabled us to investigate and compare;

●  OEM Maintenance and repair costs between the major equipment suppliers Caterpillar, Komatsu, Hitachi and Liebher.

●  OEM Maintenance and repair costs versus owner maintenance.

●  OEM Maintenance and repair costs versus outsourced mining contractor maintenance.

Cost-effective outsourced maintenance

Some of the primary reasons that major contract mining companies do not internally resort to Maintenance and Repair Contracts (MARC) with OEM's are as a result of the fact that;

●  owner maintenance can generally be carried out more cost-effectively than a MARC offered by the OEM.

●  due to their operating strategy, production focus and revenue structure are extremely efficient in limiting equipment downtime.

●  they are owners of a broad range, type and models of equipment and have the know-how, expertise, systems, infrastructure and gearing to effectively maintain all types of equipment on multiple and remote projects 24/7.

●  they benefit from longstanding relationships and full support and back-up from all OEM's.

At present, there is not a major appetite for contract mining companies to pursue outsourced maintenance. This can easily change and mine owners can reap the benefits from a competitive outsourced equipment maintenance sector through benchmarking, effective procurement and worth-while mutual beneficial maintenance contract arrangements.

For more background and information on Outsourced Maintenance Service contactTacmin Madini.

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