Maximising productivity and performance in a quarry operation has never been easy but there are products that help as ABE reports
Keeping a diverse range of equipment working efficiently, managing downtime and achieving output targets in quarries can be something of a juggling act for plant fleet managers.
Setting up an effective preventative maintenance schedule should be an essential part of that fleet management process, whether you are handling the work yourself or handing over responsibility for repair and maintenance to the dealer or manufacturer. Forward planning can be critical to prevent unscheduled downtime.
Repair and maintenance (R&M) contracts and customer service agreements (CSA) have become increasingly popular over the last decade. This is in part due to the fact that many operators no longer want to run expensive fitting shops with fleets of engineers. Others have found that technology is in many ways barring them from the service and maintenance process as electronics continue to take over control of equipment control systems. A third group simply prefer the known monthly cost of maintenance, allowing them to plan ahead without unexpected repairs and overhaul costs.
R&M is also becoming increasingly linked with the introduction of telematics systems that relay real-time equipment data and machine condition information to both the customer and to the dealer. Telematics can provide diagnostics in the case of breakdown, but also offer advanced warning of hours worked as service time approaches, ensuring the technician can arrive on site, with the correct parts and filters, at the pre-planned time.
Most telematics systems of this type provide data concerning fuel use, idling time and hours worked. This allows users to better plan preventative maintenance.
Telematics also provide location information, permitting operators to geofence machinery with alerts when equipment is used outside of geographic locations, or at supposedly non-working times.
“We mainly use CareTrack to locate our equipment and as a result we now have much greater control over our fleet,” says Paolo Limonta, director at Italian contractor Centroedile Scavi.
“CareTrack also enables us to verify fuel consumption and plan maintenance of individual machines.”
Volvo is not alone in offering this sort of technology,
As with the Volvo system when monitoring service and maintenance records customers can click through to order parts and other services online.
VisionLink also automatically generates ‘to-do’ lists for common preventative maintenance procedures, while built-in parts lists for regular service and maintenance procedures also speed up ordering from the dealer.
JCB announced this year that its LiveLink telematics system will now be fitted as standard on 80% of its machinery sold in Europe. This will include all crawler and wheeled excavators, wheeled loaders over 8 tonnes and the firm’s telehandler and backhoe loader lines.
“Not only does LiveLink offer customers improved visibility of their fleet, it also provides detailed performance and operational information which allows business owners to run their operation more efficiently and cost effectively,” says
The most recent entrants to the telematics market are the CNH duo, of
Available pre-wired on new machines at the factory, or as a retro-fit from dealers, both systems can also be used on other makes of machinery, providing a total fleet solution from a single supplier.
In some cases particularly where larger more complex driveline systems are involved, repair and maintenance can be contracted to the component manufacturer by the machine supplier.
“We work closely with our customers and the OEMs,” says Richard Brodie, northern region service operations manager for Cummins in the UK.
“We strive to deliver the best level of service and to meet the changing requirements of the customer. They are looking for the lowest cost of ownership, which could be in-house maintenance or an R&M contract.”
Of course service contracts and telematic systems are not restricted to digging and loading equipment. Crushing and screening specialist
Contracts range from basic field service and parts replacement, to full maintenance and process support, health and safety consulting and performance services. Under the company’s top of the range Prime contract, for instance, Metso offers a full maintenance program with process optimisation, including compensation linked to key performance indicators (KPI) such as availability and production targets.
Quarry processing and washing specialist
“We have found that preventative maintenance visits often flag up a training need, perhaps as new operators have come on board, or some retraining is required to improve efficiencies. Recently our engineers have reported several cases where cost savings have been made following a visit. One plant was found to be over-greasing a motor which could have cost thousands to replace; at another engineers found too much flocculant was being added to the thickener, resulting in unnecessary costs.”
Ancillary quarry systems can also be covered by a range of service contracts too. Dewatering specialist
“With the addition in 2010 of the
“Our experts know precisely how a dewatering operation should work to optimise output and results using a minimum of resources. Rising cost bases and the tightening of bottom lines mean customers are more conscious than ever about maximising the efficiency of their operations. By identifying weak points within an operation we can help businesses to optimise their processes and reduce energy usage.”
Xylem will launch its TotalCare services in six more countries this year.
Whatever the equipment, manufacturers and distributors are increasingly keen to take on repair and maintenance responsibilities for customers. The benefits for the end user should be increased uptime, with less unscheduled downtime due to breakdowns.
Contracts offer improved budgeting, with known costs throughout the contract’s duration. For those companies that regularly change their equipment, there can also be a secondary benefit of increased residual values, where a machine has been looked after by the manufacturer under an R&M contract. More than that though, R&M contracts and CSAs provide additional choice, allowing customers to find the lowest ownership and operating cost and to boost their bottom line.
Parts supplies essential
For those companies that prefer to keep repair and maintenance in-house, parts supply becomes a critical part of the operation. No company wants to keep a costly inventory of spares these days, so rapid access to the right parts from dealers and manufacturers is an important consideration.
Wear And Spare Parts is a new company that has been set up by the directors of crushing equipment supplier the Blue Group. A worldwide provider of quality crusher spares and wear parts, this new organisation is not intended to conflict with Blue Group’s own OEM parts distribution service for
“Our new company gives us the opportunity to enhance and extend our coverage of the crushing markets both at home and abroad,” says head of procurement Neil Marchi.
“We can now supply quality spares and wear parts for the plethora of varied makes of machines available to the industry.
“Our expertise, stock inventory, manufacturing facilities and technical support ensures downtime is minimised for asphalt plant worldwide,” says sales director David Gregory.
While a regular maintenance schedule can be preventative, it can also be predictive.
Through the use of regular sampling of oils and coolant fluids companies can track problems that may be developing within the machine’s components, stepping in with repair or overhaul before a breakdown occurs.
Caterpillar was among the first manufacturers to offer a fluid sampling and analysis service, under its SOS sampling program. It is not just a service for engine oil though; samples can be analysed from transmissions, hydraulic systems, axles and drive motors, as well as coolants. Regular samples are recommended at 250 hours for engines and at 500 hour intervals for other components, though the frequency can be increased if there is cause for concern in the results.
Analysis of the sample is not simply looking for contamination through dirt or water ingress. The analyst will be looking at the materials content of the sample, to see if there are metal deposits that could indicate bearing wear or failure of components within the engine or transmission.
Most equipment manufacturers and component suppliers offer a fluid analysis service these days, and it is proving to be a popular option for customers.
“We find that oil sampling is pretty much standard within the mining industry,” says Richard Brodie, of Cummins.