Preventative maintenance translates into increased machine availability on site.
I recently visited a mine site in South Africa where a fleet of more than 100 earthmoving machines were hard at work on a 24/7 basis. The equipment’s cycles are so carefully planned that unavailability of a single excavator or a haul truck at any given moment would jeopardise production figures excessively, thereby impacting negatively on daily targets.
We had a long chat with the mine manager on a range of issues concerning this monster of an operation. But, one crucial point he reiterated was the fact that any form of downtime, especially through machine breakdowns where in excess of an hour may be at stake to be able to attend to the fault, is just unacceptable, in every sense of the word.
One point to drive home from this site was the strict nature of service and preventative maintenance routines. Just like working cycles, no machine, under no circumstances, may be allowed to miss its service routine. 200-hour service routines are maintained for every yellow metal piece of equipment, but due to the round-the-clock nature of this operation, these sequences translate into weekly service schedules.
Daily check-ups are also carried out to investigate potential glitches that may have developed during the prolonged working periods, well before these could develop into costly faults.
When times are this tough for any construction or mining equipment owner, especially when capital projects to justify fleet replacement programmes are few and far between, the ability to work machines well beyond their projected lifecycles in not far-fetched.
Preventative maintenance is the answer here. Ensuring good equipment health means high equipment availability, increased production and extended lifecycles. It also prevents any possible costly machine failures which may call for replacement of crucial components such as engines and transmissions. When machines are in proper working order, with small issues such as lubrication always taken care of, it means components can also work until their intended lifecycles.
The benefits of preventative maintenance are there for all to see. One can only take shortcuts at their own peril.