Tired of tires? Think again
As metal prices continue to soar, the pressure for mines to efficiently extract and transport resources is significant, making equipment maintenance more important than ever. The answer is pretty simple: better roads, correct loading, the right tire pressure, making sure you do not cut your sidewalls and paying attention to shovel and drill clean up. Sometimes the difficulty isn’t knowing what to do–it’s doing it. Here are some questions to ask yourself and ideas to help you achieve your mine plan.
What are you driving on?
Get the mine roads in shape. You must have a program in place with checkpoints and the resources and equipment assigned to do road maintenance such as graders, smaller trucks and front-end loaders that can haul in road gravel or rocks.
A standard and properly maintained road is one of the best ways to extend tire life. This includes haul roads, as well as pit floors, having smooth/level pit bottoms with no standing water. Having constant grades without dips (requiring gear changes) increases speeds and reduces fuel consumption. Although it requires an intense effort, defining the right road standards (e.g., width, drainage, etc.), putting them into practice and then regularly auditing and maintaining them will help reduce equipment/maintenance costs and extend tire life.
How are your drivers driving?
Keeping on top of operator skill sets and driving practices to avoid tire slashes, tears and rips is essential. Avoiding rocks and debris is not simply best practice…it’s the right behaviour.
Scoring driver performance not just on production (payloads, average speeds, etc.) but also on their vehicle wear and tear, helps promote the attitude that each vehicle is an asset, not just a tool. Regular in-the-field follow-up by front-line supervision to reinforce the behaviour and measure that performance also helps. A careful note–every measurement leads or demands a behaviour; therefore, ensure that, whatever the measurement is, it is smart and aligned. If operators are measured on performance, then foremen and supervisors cannot be measured only on cost management and avoidances.
Equally important is how your supervisors and managers are supervising. Are they holding the drivers accountable? Are they doing skills assessments? Are they making sure that people are cross-trained on more than one vehicle? And do they have adequate reporting and metrics in place to allow the operators to perform at peak performance?
How long are you waiting?
It is unnecessary to have trucks waiting at a load or dump point if all they are doing is wasting resources–especially equipment resources. Parking a vehicle is sometimes the answer not only to reducing costs in an operation, but also to saving wear and tear on precious equipment. Right now, tires are particularly precious. It is better to park for the right reasons, with a plan in mind, rather than because there are no tires for the vehicle.
In today’s environment, extending tire life is just one piece in a larger puzzle. When an integrated fleet management strategy works in tandem with the overall asset management system, then a significant throughput opportunity will be seized. When this coincides with prices at an all time high, that is good news for your mine plan.
Proudfoot Consulting, an international firm with 60 years of experience, has partnered with major mining and metals companies on five continents. For more information contact Proudfoot’s Mining Practices Team at 561-624-4377 or visit www.proudfootconsulting.com.