06 Oct THE ROLE OF ENGINEERING MAINTENANCE IN SOUND MINING OPERATIONS
Across the African mining sector – and the world over – poor engineering maintenance is often the catalyst for myriad of issues on site. From plant downtime to unplanned stoppages, and all the losses that these delays cause, modern mines simply cannot afford not to employ preventative maintenance.
Addressing maintenance challenges with preventative action
According to Nandi Wheeler, Business Development Manager at Ensersa, a focus on preventative maintenance effectively mitigates those problems.
“It entails the detailed planning of the maintenance itself, enabling plant optimisation to a certain desired standard and ensuring downtime is diminished. With this approach, Minopex safeguards the functioning of customers’ sites at an optimised level of more than 80 percent.``
Nandi’s advice comes with a caveat. To be effective, the preventative maintenance plan should be comprehensive, comprise of planned and unplanned maintenance, and cover short, medium and long-term needs.
“The ultimate goal is to prepare for strategic maintenance, drive better quality operations, improve safety standards, and foster greater efficiency.”
Strategic intent and digitisation driving superior maintenance
Typically, engineers and supervisory teams on site or at the plant don’t have time to review and consider every component involved in maintenance set-up.
“With constant modifications and audits, there is simply too much happening for one individual or team to manage every maintenance intervention effectively.”
Addressing maintenance strategically
Thankfully, the Minopex team offers engineering maintenance services, helping customers with:
planning maintenance requirements, goals and strategies;
making recommendations on replacements before a breakdown occurs;
artisans and supervisors on site to assess equipment and prevent stoppages; and
timeous fabrication of parts before they’re needed, to be replaced in a planned shutdown.
The role of digitisation in maintenance
Wheeler confirms that digitisation continues to play a large role in plant maintenance.
“When assessing maintenance needs on massive structures, for example, technology driven by the digital revolution has certainly decreased the risk associated with working at height,” she said.
“Cameras and drone technology now ensures plants are thoroughly checked over – even remotely – without the dangers of physically needing to send a person to the top of large structures.
“Essentially, digitisation has broadened our scope and further empowers predictive maintenance. Technology also ensures we have access to advanced data analytics, using algorithms to identify (and address) patterns of failure.”