CSS Maintenance

“Preventive maintenance costs money, cost machine availability and slows down my production. Why should I do that? If the equipment is not moving it’s not making money!”

“It’s easier, cheaper and less frequent to just replace a part when it breaks!”

How often have we heard this and who do we most often hear it from?  In this blog I am going to give you some insight as to why doing reactive maintenance, or breakdown maintenance as it’s often called, usually costs more regardless of the frequency of the breakdowns.

To do this I would like to detail a scenario that involves a mine site where a crane truck is used to transport tires to the underground workshop. But suppose this crane truck is broken down and waiting for the availability of your site mechanics that are all busy repairing other equipment in your fleet that also needs reactive maintenance.

Most often utility vehicles are viewed as support equipment because they are not directly involved in the production cycle and only cost money, right? So their priority is low on the list and will only get a mechanic when the drills, loaders and trucks are all running and producing income. But one of your operating loaders gets a flat tire and you need to change it out, how do you safely transport the tire to the loader? After all, your crane truck is broken down!

So the loader waits and the costs start to add up. For example:

  • A 15 ton loader can move on average 50 buckets of ore per 12 hours.
  • 750 tons of lost production per 12 hours @ 2,000 lbs. ton = 1,500,000 lbs. ore.
  • Copper ore price approximately $2.75 lb.
  • Estimate recovery rate of 1.5% copper assay = 22,500 lbs. copper.
  • 22,500 lbs. copper @ $2.75 lb. = $61,875 lost revenue/12 hours, or $5,156.25/hour.

The numbers I have outlined in this example are based on averages taken over the years and reflecting a current copper price, so these costs can only go up as the economy improves. You can clearly see that reactive maintenance, in this instance, can cost you as much as $5,156 per hour in lost production costs alone. This does not take into account the truck down time because it can’t be loaded, or the labor costs for your unproductive operators, or the team working hard to solve the reactive issues on hand.

Tow Tractor Maintenance

Then to top it off, it’s always true that conducting a repair at the work face—in the decline or anywhere other than an organized workshop—takes longer so your labor cost per failure is also higher.

Another benefit of preventative maintenance is that removing a high-cost component before it breaks or becomes unserviceable allows your team to establish a rotatable component by repairing it with a lower cost service kit rather than having to replace the complete unit.

Reactive maintenance costs quickly add up to more than well-planned, strategically conducted preventative maintenance. A well-thought-out preventative maintenance program will increase your mean time between failures and increase your availability, which allows you to maximize the utilization of your equipment. Through efficient equipment planning you can minimize the amount of equipment you need on your site and have every piece of equipment earning its due portion of your profits.

In summary, preventative maintenance, as opposed to reactive maintenance, will:

  1. Maximize the useful lifecycle of your assets, thereby decreasing the need for early capital equipment replacement.
  2. Improve the availability of your equipment allowing you to maximize the utilization of your equipment, and therefore increase your ore production.
  3. Enhance your service team by having less reactive/unplanned maintenance and allowing them to respond quicker to new problems.
  4. Decrease costs per maintenance event and keep them within a manageable level that you can budget for.

All of the above will contribute positively to the operational success of your company.