Remember the good old days of the mining boom?
If you’re new to the industry, you might not remember that period of time when the solution to asset failure was to simply replace the asset with a brand new one asap and move on. Resource prices were sky high, cost wasn’t an issue and the only imperative was to keep the production line rolling to meet the insatiable demands of our overseas markets.
How things have changed.
Today it’s all about extending the productive life of assets through regular maintenance and condition monitoring. Planned shutdowns are built into production schedules, which in turn are factored into the overall productivity planning for mine sites. Sounds easy and looks good on paper, but what’s happening in the real world?
The fact is that in many mining operations, unplanned downtime is an all-to-common issue. By definition, unplanned downtime is an ad hoc event, so they can’t be factored into productivity planning in any meaningful way.
That means we’re not just talking about a headache for the people on the ground that have to sort out the problem, but the knock-on effect these events have all the way down the production chain.
In the big picture, the occasional unplanned shutdown probably wouldn’t be such a big deal. But when you start to look at their frequency, the cumulative effect could add up to a very costly major issue, one that’s often hidden due to a lack of accurate data.
And this is where it gets interesting, because it’s also a fact that unplanned downtime events can be dramatically reduced – if you have the right asset management and condition monitoring system in place.