Posted by Paul Moore on 21st February 2022
The mining industry isn’t all about new machines and future technologies – mines also have to make the most of the fleets they already have. Teck Maintenance (TM) was established in late 2020 with the goal of enabling the Maintenance team to transform how assets are maintained and managed across Teck’s operations globally. Two programs Teck Maintenance currently has underway – the Truck Rebuild Pilot and Asset Health – both aim to proactively address challenges before they become problems. In a recent article the company outlined the thinking and aims behind both.
Over the next 10 years, Teck Coal will need to replace 83 aging haul trucks at a cost of approximately C$706 million. The Truck Rebuild Pilot will evaluate the feasibility of rebuilding those trucks, rather than purchasing new ones. “The lead time for a new truck is six to eight months,” says Steve Dobie, Senior Maintenance Engineer, Teck Maintenance in the article. “We believe we can rebuild our trucks in less than four weeks and for half the cost. This has the potential to save Teck Coal up to C$400 million of future capital spend, while increasing our fleet consistency, predictability and reliability.” Partners in the Truck Rebuild Pilot include Canadian Komatsu dealer SMS Equipment which has carried out rebuilds of 930E units at its Elkwood facility.
Dobie shared how the rebuild process can help reduce our overall carbon footprint. The approach is simple: when Teck refurbishes and reuses parts, as opposed to immediately purchasing new parts, the greenhouse gas emissions output is lower. How much lower? Estimates show that it could be as much as 70% less. He also notes that the true success comes back to the people who use the assets daily. “We want to build these trucks to the point where they are near-new in terms of performance, so they outperform their first service life and match the quality that sites are accustomed to. We’ll do that only with the help and feedback—good and bad—from the people who operate and maintain the equipment every day. Collaboration and consistent communication are key to the future of our fleet.”
While exploring truck rebuilds, Teck Maintenance is also reimagining how it cares for assets. That’s where the work of Asset Health comes in. “We need to move from primarily reactive maintenance to a more proactive approach, and to introduce improved tools, systems and processes to help us do that,” explained Allyson Hawley, Project Lead, Mobile Asset Health, Teck Maintenance in the article. “We are introducing a custom suite of tools that will take in real-time data, allow us to create proactive alarms and automate the responses to those alarms.”
This means that Teck Maintenance and Teck’s sites will be better equipped to intervene in maintenance problems before they happen. “This new technology will provide everyone with better insight, including alerting maintenance supervisors to ‘shut down’ equipment if there is a potential failure before it happens,” she adds. Early intervention in asset maintenance and repairs could result in an estimated C$60 million savings each year for Teck, not to mention mitigating the cascading effects of issues that go unchecked.
While these initiatives have the potential to provide numerous benefits – improved safety, reduced emissions, cost savings and greater consistency across all operations – for Larry Davey, Vice President, Teck Maintenance, it’s Teck’s people who are top of mind through this maintenance transformation. “I’ve been in mining for 40 years, and it doesn’t get more exciting than when a highly talented community of individuals come together to solve a problem. From the site level to Teck Maintenance, we are setting a new standard for what good maintenance looks like, both in Coal and Base Metals. The work being undertaken with these projects is unique to Teck and will rely on connecting our experts at sites across the world. The Teck Maintenance team is ready to facilitate, enable and measure the changes required, and I am grateful for the support of the entire Teck Maintenance community through this ongoing transformation.”