Global mining operations are facing higher operating costs and weaker commodity prices. In this challenging environment, it is becoming increasingly important to find new ways to reduce production costs and improve operational efficiency.
Teck Coal’s Cardinal River has tackled this problem by getting the right people and the right systems in place to deliver operational excellence. They have built a high-performing team of planners, maintenance supervisors, and maintenance coordinators, which is supported by the DINGO Asset Wellness™ Trakka® software and team of experts. Over the years, Cardinal River’s team, in partnership with DINGO, has found new ways to decrease capital and operating costs, increase productivity, and deliver sustainable business results.
We recently had a chance to sit down with Jay Hore, Reliability Technician at Teck Cardinal River, to find out from a maintenance reliability“insider” how they have achieved their great results.
Teck’s Jay Hore with DINGO’s Steve Hernandez
DINGO: Can you give us some background on your experience in the mining industry?
JH: I have a diploma as a civil engineering technologist, and before Teck, my background was construction and project management. My career with Cardinal River began in 2005, working in the process plant. I quickly moved into planning and scheduling, and shutdown planning, and then moved into a reliability role where I was first exposed to oil analysis. From there, I took on my current position of Reliability Technician.
DINGO: How do you feel your background prepared you for your role of Reliability Technician at Teck?
JH: There are quite a few similarities between construction and mining such as time management, organization, computer efficiency and being able to decipher data. In either industry, it is important to have a schedule and a plan to properly manage your assets. My technical background allows me to understand and be adaptive to data.
DINGO: What are some of the key programs and initiatives at CRO that you oversee?
JH: Our oil analysis program, in concert with DINGO, is my top priority. We are currently working on ways to optimize the program and take it to the next level. Another one of our big initiatives is fluid tracking. We’re one of the first mines in Teck to meter our fluid top ups during service. Now, when a truck comes in for service, we have set up a simple SharePoint site for inputting information that goes into an organized database format where we can then analyze the data after service to find bad actors or the highest consumers. This new system helps point us in the right direction to tackle the top 20% of repeat offenders, who typically cause 80% of the problems. It also enables us to correct for spill reporting and allows for more accurate reporting. This data is input into Trakka where it can be tracked and we can see the rate of change—and then we can act on it.
DINGO: What is Cardinal River doing well that could be an example to other mining sites?
JH: We’ve been focused on lubricants, leaks and oil over the last few years, working directly with our lubricant vendor in a consolidation project. Previously, CRO was the biggest consumer in Western Canada of lube containers because we didn’t have enough bulk capacity to have it delivered by truck. We partnered with our vendors to set up bulk tanks and consolidate our product so we could send those “lube-tainers” back to receive the recycle fee. We saw a cost savings of close to $1.2m from those simple steps. To accompany the consolidation, we also updated and incorporated data management of our lubricant list and charts. Getting the right information to the right people has been a tangible improvement.
DINGO: How important is it for large mining operations to have a maintenance reliability program and oil analysis processes in place?
JH: It is extremely important, and Teck has shown that as they have put programs in place to get all the Teck sites using the same procedures and have instituted best practices across all sites. We recently brought maintenance schedulers on board to assist the planners and each site operates with “plan schedule execute” processes in place. It creates a continuous improvement cycle which helps mining operations break out of their usual state of reactivity.
Mining in general, and especially at Teck, is beginning to understand that you can’t continue to operate in a cycle of “it broke fix it”. Reactionary, unplanned work costs create anywhere from three to 10 times more work than a planned job.
DINGO: How has DINGO Mining assisted in your efforts to help CRO achieve outstanding results?
JH: The DINGO programs and Trakka® are some of the most tangible and user-friendly tools for condition-based monitoring and asset health management. The DINGO systems have been in place at CRO since 2009, and the results have been remarkable. We now have data going back five years, allowing for better trending which has resulted in a large number of failures being averted or prevented. We also enjoy the benefit of the
DINGO experts’ experience in Oil Analysis; having that support and knowledge base available at any time is invaluable. The Trakka® software tool is very intuitive and able to predict trends. There has been a great culture change at CRO because of the results we’ve experienced. There have been many preventable issues caught that, without the program, we would never have been aware of until it was too late.
DINGO: This newsletter goes out to several thousand mining people, many of whom have a lot less experience than you. Any lessons you have learned that could be helpful to our readers?
JH: For those in reliability and managerial roles, invest in your tradesmen – get to know them, trust them, and treat them like they have value to you. They are your ears, eyes and hands out there on the gear every day. Treat them with respect, and do what you can to make their jobs and their lives easier and better. If their life gets better because of an improvement that you instituted as a result of their input, you will get buy-in on the floor – so help your team out. Little things make a big difference. Without them, it doesn’t matter what program you want to rollout; it won’t succeed unless you include them in the process and reward them for it.