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Maintenance in the Mining and Metals Industry

Posted under Blog by Kristin Smith, Content Marketing Specialist

The mining and metals industry is highly competitive and sometimes risky and unpredictable. With strictly regulated finances and heightened requirements for safety and environmental processes, the industry must remain progressive.

Additionally, the mining and metals industry is surviving on finite resources – anything from precious stones to carbon-based fuels. As expected with any exhaustible resource, product decline will come. In fact, the mining sector is beginning to grapple with this reality.

Restricted resources and tight margins can result in increased pressure on maintenance departments to:

  • Improve efficiency and field excellence
  • Boost operational intelligence and decision-making
  • Achieve high compliance standards and be prepared for regulatory audits and internal reviews

Like most asset-intensive industries, the mining and metals industry is extremely reliant upon the uptime of revenue producing assets.  By minimizing the downtime of assets, it allows companies to consistently produce output, which results in increased revenues.  This is where maintenance plays a key role.

By maximizing asset performance through effective processes and tools, mining and metal organizations can control costs and meet the distinct maintenance requirements of exploration and mine operations.

Gone are the old days of run to failure.  The most progressive mining and metals companies today have implemented processes and solutions to minimize reactive maintenance to control costs and downtime.  Moreover, it is extremely important for companies to comply with safety and environmental policies.

When focusing on budget performance issues, management seldom looks to maintenance as an area with the potential for significant gains. It’s often a “necessary evil”. However, in the mining and metals industry, maintenance management ineffectiveness generates a significant financial loss for the company.

Mining and metal maintenance EAM practices can mean the difference between profitability and loss. Continuous production means equipment is constantly in use, so scheduled maintenance must be brief and effective.

How to improve maintenance in the Mining and Metal Industry – Mining and Metal Industry Requirements

The mining industry has unique maintenance needs related to climatically hostile and extreme environments, work order backlogs, heightened safety regulations, and large capital outlay. Additionally, the mining industry operates complex equipment, comparable in size to a medium-sized building. These needs pose an interesting challenge for maintenance teams striving for more optimized practices.

  1. Identification of changes in asset health – The identification of changes to asset health, or an impending failure is critical for profit margins in the mining and metals industry. In order to better control their maintenance costs, maintenance teams need the ability to better access and monitor machine data. When maintenance teams can easily identify an asset issue, they can react immediately and swiftly resolve the problem, preventing unexpected and costly breakdowns. Furthermore, regulations dictate that mining organizations take every measure possible to avert health, and safety risks. Asset condition monitoring, as well as predictive shutdown systems, are fundamental to safe and secure operations in remote, climatically hostile locations
  2. The mine plan dictates strict equipment uptime and performance goals – A mining company’s operation is highly dependent on the state of its capital assets. As more and more resources are extracted from mines to meet rising demands, leveraging the availability of assets like trucks, bulldozers, distribution equipment, and processing plants, becomes a key determinant in dealing with increased production. Maintenance teams need to work within these demands to ensure assets are available during critical production periods
  3. High volume of work orders – Mining and metals maintenance teams are often faced with a high volume of work orders. Maintenance teams need the ability to easily schedule bulk work order operations and view and track KPIs for the compliance of weekly maintenance schedules. With this volume of work orders, maintenance teams need a system that tests the readiness of unscheduled work orders and flags those which do not meet the standard of completeness for correction. 
  4. Quality decline – Product quality decline has direct implications for mining operations. Any mine operation with low grade or quality is much more “process intensive”. It requires more from the mine and its unit operations to get the same amount of minerals as a high-grade mining operation. To ensure profitability comparable to high-grade mines, such operations must work at optimum capacity through planning, scheduling optimization and overall maintenance process optimization
  5. Highly remote locations – Some of the best mines are in extremely remote and often environmentally hostile locations. These remote work locations pose unique challenges for mining and metals companies. Maintenance teams need connected production environments to break down geographical barriers and securely provide access to data. Maintenance optimization can only occur when teams have access to actionable information.
  6. Safety and regulatory compliance requirements for federal, state, and local authorities – Safety remains a critical issue in the mining and metals industry as working mines can be very dangerous. Accidents, injuries and fatalities among mine workers continue to generate international concern. Organizations are concerned about the safety of their employees, as well as the cost of an accident or resulting shut down. Mining organizations need to ensure they meet all federal and state/provincial regulations. Asset condition monitoring, as well as effective production control and predictive shutdown systems, are fundamental to safe and secure mining operations.

Looking Ahead…

It’s no easy feat creating efficiencies within a mining and metals organization. It’s even harder to do so when equipment uptime and performance goals are strict, locations are remote, product quality is diminishing and safety regulations are rigorous.

VIZIYA’s WorkAlign® Suite was built on the premise of helping maintenance organizations to create efficiencies by connecting and optimizing every step of the maintenance workflow. VIZIYA has worked collaboratively with the largest and most sophisticated maintenance organizations to enhance their asset performance. Barrick Gold, the world’s largest pure gold mining company, has adopted VIZIYA’s WorkAlign Product Suite to uniquely manage their impressive 26 mines worldwide.

To learn how VIZIYA’S WorkAlign® Suite can help your organization combat the unique requirements of the Mining and Metals IndustryRequest a Demo with one of our experts now.

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