Controlling Costly Equipment Maintenance in the Mining Sector

Mining equipment maintenance and worker safety

The mining and resources sector is by nature a highly complex industry that is equipment intensive and risk-prone. Its workers operate and maintain large complicated equipment, in climatically hostile and extreme environments. And with this mixture, mining equipment maintenance is no easy venture.

The typical mine maintenance manager has to contend with many issues including continuous machine repair, aging equipment, reduced funds, and worker safety concerns. Checking for wear and tear, identifying performance issues, and potential problems is a lot of hard work.

Safety is a huge concern in the mining industry. When mining injuries, fatalities, or near-fatalities make national or international headlines, the issue becomes even more crucial. It can be shocking to mining managers to realize that the simple and seemingly safe tasks of maintenance are the cause of so many injuries and deaths. For this reason, improving equipment maintainability is one of the most direct and effective ways to improve safety.

One often-overlooked aspect of safety issues has to do with equipment maintenance. The CDC reports that 30% of all injuries and fatalities in underground coal mining (in the USA) are due to machinery maintenance accidents.

Machine-related injuries in the US mining industry and priorities for safety research

In 2020, the Queensland government is vowing to “get tough” on businesses that fail to protect their workers. It is, therefore, crucial to keep an accurate equipment register to prove regulatory compliance and avoid hefty fines.

With eight miner deaths in the past 20 months, the QLD government is “getting tough” with hefty fines on businesses who fail to protect their workers.

Qld man killed at central QLD mine 8th death in 2 years

Mining maintenance and worker safety

miner underground

Most mines are keen to implement checklists, improve training, change work schedules, launch new safety programs, enhance emergency response plans, and host motivational pep talks. All of those are important steps in the reduction of injuries.

However, failing to address the crucial issue of maintainability, one of the main causes of injuries. No safety program, regardless of its effectiveness, can mitigate the risks associated with risky maintainability on mining equipment.

Mining equipment maintenance is a high-risk activity with some of the hazards resulting from the nature of the work. Maintenance workers are more likely than other employees to be exposed to various hazards.

Equipment management and maintenance

Hardcat mining maintenance and worker safety

With the introduction of equipment maintenance software, companies and organisations have graduated from old-school eye-based inspections and paper checklist practices and transitioned to a more modern and effective way of managing business assets and equipment maintenance and workplace WHS/OH&S occurrences.

Good asset and maintenance management considers and optimises the priorities of asset utilisation and worker safety, of short-term performance opportunities and long-term sustainability, and between capital investments and subsequent operating costs, risks and performance.

Regular documented equipment maintenance is essential to keep machines and the work environment safe and reliable for maintenance workers. Lack of maintenance or inadequate maintenance can lead to dangerous situations, accidents and health problems.

BHP Nickel West – case study

mining respirator maintenance and Hardcat

BHP Nickel West is a fully integrated, world-class nickel producer with a commitment to zero harm and sustainable development. It is the world’s third-largest producer of nickel-in-concentrate.

With excellent infrastructure and a focused leadership team, BHP Nickel West exports around 100,000 tonnes of nickel in metal each year, employs more than 3400 operational employees and contractors. BHP provides significant benefits to the Western Australian economy and to the communities in which it operates.

The implementation of their Hardcat solution addressed WHS/OH&S issues around the management of respirators. Hardcat’s continued use has promoted greater efficiencies and time-savings in the issue, return and maintenance of worker respirators within a storeroom environment. Enabling staff to dedicate more of their time to other aspects of their jobs.

One version – a single source of truth:
BHP Nickel West has the benefit of a comprehensive asset register that provides clear accurate visibility of their assets and equipment while providing highly detailed tracking of all maintenance work carried out on these assets.
Leverage equipment suppliers:
BHP Nickel West now has a detailed database with accurate historic logs and up-to-date information. This enables future leverage of supplier relationships and warranties.
Solution ease of use:
The Hardcat solution at BHP is very popular with workers primarily because it is easy to use and they can see the benefits it brings to their jobs and safety. As a result, workers have been quick to embrace its use.

Hardcat solutions improve return on investment

  • Work order processing
  • Work authorisation and priority setting
  • Maintenance history recording and analysis
  • Costing and budgeting
  • Optimal asset utilisation and productivity
  • Improved revenue to cost ratios
  • Improved reliability and therefore repeatability of performance
  • Optimised inventory costs
  • Predictable equipment life
  • Understanding the Total Cost of Ownership

Mining and resource sector clients using Hardcat solutions

Hardcat mining and resource sector clients

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