With metal prices lower than for many years, the mining industry is facing major challenges. The Pilbara region is no exception where the miners are turning to service solutions as a way to combat the downtrend. The Pilbara region in the North of Western Australia is a showcase of modern mining. This vast and remote corner of the world, covering an astonishing 500 000 km2 has been fielding its minerals – notably iron, gold and copper – on a large scale since the 1960s.
Some of the giants of the industry are well established here, among them Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, which, together with local mining companies and contractors, contribute much to the Australian economy using some of the industry’s most sophisticated equipment and methods.
These days, however, like many other mining regions around the world, the normally hot and dry Pilbara is feeling the cold pinch of lower metal prices and weaker global demand. The challenges in adjusting to this new market situation are considerable, and here, as practically everywhere, the focus is on cost reduction. One of the ways that companies are tackling this is to minimize the time that mining equipment is out of action. In this respect, one of the major suppliers to the companies of the Pilbara, Atlas Copco, is playing a key role with proactive service solutions for the many different types of Atlas Copco rigs at work in the region.
One example of this is a service exchange package which involves a Component Repair Menu that allows customers to continue mining with minimal downtime. Tailored to suit the needs of today’s tight operational demands, customers are able to choose from the following options:
Reman: Components ready off the shelf, rebuilt to an ‘as new or better’ standard, complete with a comprehensive warranty and a ‘Core Credit’ on the return of the used item.
Do & Charge: Rotable components that are owned by the customer and returned to an Atlas Copco workshop to be stripped, inspected and repaired (customers receive detailed analysis and reporting on identified failed parts) and Atlas Copco alerts the customer if the item is economically repairable and specifies the repair costs.
Service Exchange: Components that are returned to an Atlas Copco workshop, stripped and inspected with customers paying the cost of repair plus a fee for the interim use of a ‘stand in’ Atlas Copco exchange component.
Service Modules: Customers receive a modularized component, typically complete powertrains, powerheads, airends and the like, designed to be ‘Plug & Play’. The component arrives in an engineer designed, transport friendly, protective steel container, fully dressed with all accessories (e.g. hoses, connections, fastenings etc) to facilitate speedy installation, minimal downtime and early return to work of the machine.
Complementing the portfolio, all repairs include the use of genuine Atlas Copco parts and are backed by the Atlas Copco service warranty.
In addition to this, Atlas Copco uses advanced software to track the life cycle of all key components and parts enabling it to predict when replacement parts will be needed. Parts that need to be replaced more often, and essential parts critical to operations, are held at Atlas Copco branches throughout Australia, while those replaced less often are held at distribution centers in Perth and Sydney. Another key aspect of the program is Custom Engineered Solutions, through the plug and play principle. This is designed to reduce the cost of parts in maintaining a machine and the labor needed.
Dale Waters, National Marketing Manager for Atlas Copco in Australia, explains that a pre-assembled component is cheaper and more efficient to supply and install than trying to buy the individual parts for assembling and fitting on site.