Although the question of plant maintenance frequency seems simple on the surface, it's a common question that we help address with our customers. Mining plant maintenance is a required necessity - some may even say it's one of the most maintenance intensive industries in the world. Maintenance planning and frequencies need to be aligned based on the most frequently maintained item or the lowest MTBF (mean time between failure).
For example, if your bearing temperatures and lubes need to be inspected weekly requiring equipment downtime, you can align other maintenance work to match within that scheduled outage. As with all aspects of business planning, you want to plan inspections based on appropriate times to ensure production capacity is achieved while at the same time fulfilling the requirements as outlined in the maintenance plan.
Industrial maintenance is like many industries in that data is becoming more and more important to enable strategic planning and proper decision making.
As it relates to hard rock mining specifically, inefficient and added maintenance costs can be the difference between a profitable operation and the decision to shutter the mine due to those inefficiencies.
An Approach to Consider:
Begin by scheduling larger jobs at set intervals alongside more significant planned outages, then schedule all maintenance other service and changeout work on that asset in shorter intervals. Ideally, the MTBF of the components of that asset will be set to equivalent increments matching the longevity of the equipment. It carries no value to have an asset that is down for scheduled maintenance every six months with components that are replaced at eight month intervals, as such you need to align critical components accordingly.
Further Reading: Five Different Types of Mining Plant Maintenance
Increasing the reliability of your identified weakest link to suit productivity is an excellent way to increase the MTBF intervals of your mining equipment while ensuring a reliable asset along the way. A detailed component breakdown of each asset/equipment will enable the MTBF to be recorded and addressed to investigate what can be done to increase the reliability of the identified components within each.
Mapping and prioritizing the maintenance work helps to set maintenance frequencies at a level that protects the asset while minimizing downtime. Doing so will help increase overall productivity and profitability. While mine maintenance planning seems like an endless job, it really sits within a wheel of continuous improvement where you are trying to increase frequencies and intervals by incremental values, all with the goal to achieve the defined strategic goals.
Want to learn how your operation measures up when it comes to maintenance and reliability? Download our Maintenance & Reliability Self-Assessment Tool.