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If you bought a piece of equipment – say a car, a motorcycle, or a laptop – it is natural for you to keep it well-maintained so that it would keep running in good condition and its life extended because you know how fragile these machines can be.  But how about heavy-duty equipment? Specifically, those used for mining? These machines are built to last, but does it mean that regular maintenance is not needed when it comes to mining equipment?

In Australia, mining is truly a big business – it is strongly export-oriented and accounts for a huge portion of the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP), typically around 7%.  It is but natural then that mining companies and businesses should keep their operations equipment working at optimal conditions to ensure that not only are profitability and revenues high but also that injuries and even death among its workers are prevented.  By keeping the mining equipment in good working condition, these are all highly achievable.

Effects of not maintaining mining equipment

Imagine this: you bought your own shiny brand new car.  You use it every day when you go to work and, during weekends you take it out on road trips.  But what would happen if you neglect taking it to a mechanic for a routine check-up? Eventually, your beloved car would stop performing up to speed.  The same is true with machines being used in the mining industry.

Mining equipment – such as longwall machines, ventilation fans, rock dusters, haul trucks, and dozers – are really designed to remain undamaged by the highest level of wear and tear unmatched in any other industry.  Yet even the best and most powerful mining equipment like Vibrating Feeders Australia can only withstand so much pressure and would need proper maintenance from time to time.  Not giving a piece of mining equipment some care and proper maintenance by regularly servicing it by qualified mechanics and technicians would not make it perform optimally.  It is also a threat to the safety of all workers in the mining site. This could lead to lawsuits and eventually loss in income for the mining company, something no businessman wants to happen.  

What companies can do to maintain mining equipment

We cannot stress enough the importance of mining equipment maintenance.  Companies can hire in-house mechanics, technicians, and engineers so no time would be wasted waiting for them to come to the site.  If the mining company is a little tight on the budget – because admittedly, there would be days when maintenance is not needed – they can outsource professional engineers to regularly maintain the equipment.  

As a general rule, mining companies should prepare and follow a strict routine maintenance schedule to help keep the equipment running in good condition, prevent downtime, and prevent unplanned costs.  This involves inspecting, cleaning, oil change, lubrication, replacing parts, and repair. This ensures all the mining equipment performs at a high level and are in excellent condition for completing mining tasks.

One of the challenges in following a strict preventive maintenance schedule is that there are various mining equipment scattered in many different mining sites.   This means companies have to create unique maintenance schedules for each of the mining sites and equipment to ensure that each piece of mining equipment would be maintained properly.  The maintenance schedule of machinery depends on how much it is being used every single workday.  

Preventive maintenance not only involves routine maintenance on the equipment.  An accurate recording of the maintenance check should also be kept. Knowing the lifespan of the parts is also important to understand the frequency of replacing these parts.  

Benefits of preventive maintenance

Regularly maintaining mining machinery brings lots of important benefits for the company.  These are:

  • A prolonged lifespan for the mining equipment
  • Safety of the mining workers are not compromised because the machines are working properly
  • Minimizes equipment downtime, thus preventing work stoppages due to malfunctioning equipment, and in this way cost objectives are also met
  • Fewer unnecessary maintenance and inspections
  • Reliability of the equipment is improved
  • Expensive repairs as a result of unexpected equipment failure that must be fixed quickly are greatly reduced

These days, improvements in technology ensure that technicians and engineers are better equipped with knowing when to schedule the maintenance of mining equipment.  

Key takeaways

Well-maintained mining equipment ensures that work in the mining site will be efficient.  Monthly and annual targets are highly achievable when the machines are in good working condition, though of course there are many other factors in achieving profitability.  Without routine preventive maintenance, not only would a costly downtime could occur, but the safety of the mining workers would be compromised – especially for those who need to work closely to the machines.   Additionally, it is really bad for business not to have regular equipment maintenance because company objectives would not be met on time.