Confronted with global supply chain challenges and a limited bandwidth from reliability maintenance experts, Lamaque Mine, an underground mine in Abitibi, Quebec, and a 100% owned venture of Eldorado Gold (ELD-TSX), has embarked on a journey to optimize maintenance and reliability practices. This strategic move involves a partnership with Dingo Software, the leading provider of predictive and condition-based maintenance solutions in the mining industry.
Challenges & Opportunities
The Lamaque Mine faced the dual challenge of controlling capital costs and lowering all-in sustaining costs while also navigating the complexities of the global supply chain. With a current life of mine of 10 years, the mine sought to address some of these persistent challenges. Lamaque decided to first focus on limited access to personnel with reliability skillsets, underutilization of some of the existing digital platforms, and its exposure to the global parts shortage. The team sought innovative solutions to help control and reduce costs, extend the lifespan of major asset components, and build world class reliability expertise.
The site team, in collaboration with Dingo, identified opportunities to enhance equipment maintenance and reliability key performance indicators (KPIs). The chosen strategy aimed to reduce unplanned breakdowns, extend component life cycles, increase equipment availability, and mitigate the impact of the global parts shortage. As per Martin Pichette, Mine Operations and Maintenance Director at Lamaque Mine:
“Partnering with Dingo allows us to leverage remotely located condition intelligence experts from the get-go for a fraction of the normal cost to company. This allows our few reliability experts to focus on the top issues and make important decisions to ensure our fleet availability is where it needs to be instead of having them analyzing data and looking for the issues.“
As a bonus, Dingo has also helped Lamaque Mine acquire new sources of business intelligence with a fully documented and centralized asset health database plus integration with the ERP/CMMS, ensuring a complete maintenance and reliability context is available to support all maintenance decisions.
Phase 1 of the Dingo solution involved consolidating oil sample data onto a single platform for the first time at the mine. Within a short timeframe after the go-live, critical issues were identified and shared with the site team, showcasing Dingo’s immediate value generation capability.
Case Study – The Breakthrough Moment
In the first week after go-live, the Dingo Condition Intelligence team observed a 2% fuel dilution, decreased viscosity, increased wear metal values, and combustion by-products on a Caterpillar AD30 with a C15 engine with only 1,391 operating hours.
In response, the Dingo team assigned a ‘Priority 1’ action, providing work-stop level recommendations, and provided site with a troubleshooting guide from their library including recommendations to check the fuel injectors.
Not long after, the local Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) supporting Lamaque Mine identified five defective fuel injectors that required urgent replacement. However, due to the ongoing global parts shortage, the mine was left with no alternative but to perform an engine oil drain on a weekly basis until the necessary parts could be procured. Lamaque mine has been using biodegradable oil in its engine since its debut, which was a relief given the extra oil required while waiting for the injectors. Once available, the injectors were replaced under warranty. This preemptive action not only prevented potential engine failure on the CAT AD30 but also restored up to 90% of the engine’s at-risk lifespan.
While this proactive intervention circumvented much larger production losses had the engine been lost, this case also highlights the significant risk unplanned breakdowns can have on Mean Time in Repair (MTIR) and associated production losses. These impacts are real, even when the missing parts are relatively simple and inexpensive, as was the case with the fuel injectors in this case.
The joint effort between the Lamaque personnel, CAT Toromont and Dingo Condition Intelligence specialists not only averted a catastrophic breakdown but also showcased the effectiveness and rapid results achievable through Dingo’s predictive maintenance solutions. The successful identification and repair of the AD30 injectors resulted in significant cost savings for everyone. In a nutshell, such a breakdown, if it had not been prevented by the team, would have generated production losses of about 65,000 USD per day due to equipment downtime and significant corrective maintenance cost to the OEM under warranty. Beyond financial value capture, this case also aligns with Eldorado Gold’s vision of ‘breaking new ground’ by implementing innovative solutions and enhancing maintenance processes, thereby ensuring the continuous growth of their high-quality business.
After the AD30 engine save, the Lamaque maintenance team have continued to leverage Dingo to save equipment. For example: 3 leaking fuel injectors were found on a 45 Ton haul truck and a transmission was saved on a 15 Ton LHD; two key prime movers that would have certainly impeded the operation from monthly production targets. Overall, working together, Dingo and Lamaque have now secured 3 significant equipment ‘saves’ within the first 4-month period.
Building on these early successes, Lamaque and Dingo plan to continue to extend the project to the entire fleet. Next steps will include interfacing with the mine CMMS and leveraging Dingo’s global benchmark tool to help select best practices from similar mines worldwide and to help the mine evolve towards increasingly condition-based maintenance decision making.
This success story exemplifies how proactive maintenance strategies, coupled with innovative partnerships, can not only address immediate challenges but also pave the way for a more efficient future in the mining industry.