It could cost a mine operator over a thousand dollars per hour for a mining dump truck or a mining excavator not to be working. With such high costs associated with downtime, there is no question how important it is to improve equipment availability within the mining industry.
Let’s define equipment availability as the duration the equipment is ready when it matters. This is important for many applications, including you being able to do something personal like drive your car when you need it. However, what makes mining exceptional is the combination of downtime costs and the continuous need for the equipment to operate. A typical mine works 24/7 throughout the year, for years to decades. A mining haul truck could work for over 600 hours a month, which is the equivalent of two years of driving for an average US driver.
Given the importance of equipment availability for miners, here are five impactful ways to boost its availability.
1. Begin with the engines that offer the highest quality
Miners benefit from working with partners that offer extensive aftermarket capabilities, yet the best starting point for mine operators to maximise machine availability is to have reliable engines. This is a proactive approach and focuses on avoiding engine issues instead of trying to repair them.
Here is a real-life example on how engine reliability makes a difference. A customer from an Arizona, US mine site had concerns because their non-Cummins engines powering their haul trucks were not performing at the quality needed. The customer decided to switch to Cummins QSK60 engines and consequently reported a 43% improvement in mean time to failure and a 69% improvement in mean time to repair.
2. Minimise downtime with access to plentiful spare engines
Mining operators can reduce their downtime and prevent financial losses by leveraging spare engines while their primary engines are going through planned or unplanned service. You do not need to buy and own these extra engines. Instead, you can work with partners capable of offering this service to you.
Cummins offers over 1 000 support engines ready to be shipped to our partners in the mining industry. This number is higher than the annual engine production of some of the smaller mining engine manufacturers.
3. Reduce rebuild time by having access to capable and nearby rebuild centres
Rebuilding an engine instead of buying a new one helps mining operators reduce the total lifecycle cost of their equipment. Larger engine manufacturers offer a rebuild service through dedicated facilities. The location and capability of these facilities are critical, since an average mining dump truck engine weighs 9 072 kg, equivalent to five mid-size passenger cars combined.
Cummins has 16 Master Rebuild Centres around the world capable of rebuilding high horsepower engines. The certified rebuild process, from teardown to final inspection, is a detailed 600-step procedure to ensure the highest quality.
4. Have trained technicians ready for you
Even the most durable engines need planned and, in some cases, unplanned maintenance. Mine sites, with their remote locations, present a unique challenge for technicians to respond in a rapid manner. One-way Cummins addresses this challenge, beyond having 1 000+ trained technicians, is to offer on-site aftermarket support for customers that aim to boost equipment availability. The Julong Copper Mine is a great example, showing how Cummins goes to great heights by maintaining over ten aftermarket support team members on-site, located at an altitude of 5 500 m.
5. Leverage advanced analytics and telematics
How much money would you have saved if you knew what component to change and when to change it? While you are reflecting on this, take a look at how a Chilean mine operator
saved over $1 million and minimised downtime by taking advantage of telematics and data-enabled services.
Condition-based maintenance, offered through PrevenTech, is at the core of telematics and helps miners improve equipment availability by enabling miners to prevent unscheduled maintenance and to better plan scheduled maintenance.
“Availability is and will continue to be a key driver for the mining industry to deliver superior financial performance. Miners interested in boosting their equipment’s availability can seek partners that can bring strengths in spare engines and parts accessibility, capable rebuild facilities and readiness of technicians,” says Kevin Spiller, director of Mining Business at Cummins.