In the second segment of this six-part series, the author explains the importance of a positive working environment in the process of developing and sustaining a top-notch mine maintenance program

By Paul Tomlingson

Maintenance is a vital function in overall mine productivity, but superior maintenance performance can only occur when the entire mine supports the effort.
Maintenance is a vital function in overall mine productivity, but superior maintenance performance can only occur when the entire mine supports the effort.

There are no world-class maintenance organizations. Rather, there are world-class mining organizations that include a world-class maintenance organization.

Maintenance, by itself, is a service provider. Successful mining maintenance is not a “stand-alone” maintenance effort. World-class maintenance status is only achieved when world class is the required status of the total mine. This theme suggests the necessity of a commitment to effective maintenance and, as a result, a successful mining operation can be realized.

The second of six steps to achieving world-class mining maintenance is to ensure support for maintenance by creating a positive mine-wide maintenance working environment. Full cooperation and support from all mining departments—with mine management reinforcement—is essential in reaching this goal.

Mining corporations insist that subordinate operations achieve performance levels that guarantee profitability, and to achieve these levels they demand constructive responses from their operations. Responses could take the form of what might be called a production strategy—a plan for meeting corporate performance requirements. The production strategy could embody the collective principles of maintenance management; successful, effective past experiences and proven techniques combined to indicate the most effective way that mine maintenance could be conducted and corporate requirements satisfied. But, how does a mine manager ensure essential help for maintenance? How can a manager change traditional behaviors in which production, for example, may have taken precedence over actions that could ensure consistently reliable equipment (good maintenance) while knowing that, without reliable equipment, there might be no production?

STRUCTURING A PRODUCTION STRATEGY
A valid production strategy could bring all mining departments together in a unifying effort toward the common objective of profitability. The strategy would include specific, cooperative departmental objectives and policies. Objectives would assign specific responsibilities to mine departments. Policies would prescribe how the departments interact to achieve operating efficiencies. The combined objectives and policies would allow individual departments to develop internal and cooperative interdepartmental procedures that would comprise departmental programs. These programs could help assure the mutual support necessary for effective maintenance and its essential contribution to effective mine operation (Figure 2-1).

ALIGNING THE MAINTENANCE WORKING ENVIRONMENT
To ensure that maintenance can operate effectively, circumstances that inhibit maintenance performance must be corrected. Consider the potential impact on maintenance performance if the following conditions are not corrected, improved or eliminated:

  • Could the most dedicated and willing maintenance department do a good job if they are referred to as a “necessary evil,” a “cost-reduction challenge” and a “seat-of-the-pants” activity?
  • What maintenance manager could carry out his responsibilities effectively if they are influenced by the actions or omissions (even if unintended) of other departments?
  • How motivated would such a maintenance manager be if a mine manager acknowledged that maintenance required the help of all other departments but did nothing about it?
  • What maintenance department could control internal procedures or influence interdepartmental actions if they had been furnished an overly complex information system intended primarily for accounting that totally neglected the vital maintenance activity of work control?
  • How many mine managers whose maintenance activities consume more than 40% of operating costs neglect to verify the quality and effectiveness of maintenance services?
  • How many mine managers know that the control of maintenance labor is a vital function to its success yet resist measuring workforce productivity?

But, what maintenance organization could succeed if they knew that their success depended on the help of all other departments but they failed to tell these departments how they could help? Would they be surprised when no help arrives or whatever assistance provided is not helpful because it was based on guesswork by departments otherwise willing to assist? Thus, the need for a quality maintenance program involves an entire mining operation.

Figure 2-1: Corporate guidelines encourage a meaningful response from subordinate mining operations. The response could be a production strategy based on proven techniques, principles and solid objectives necessary to achieve an effective mine operation. To bring about this outcome, objectives are assigned to confirm department responsibilities. Then, policies are added to clarify departmental interactions. From these objectives and policies, departments develop day-to-day procedures and incorporate them into departmental programs for implementation. Testing confirms their validity and, if required, modification of the production strategy. These steps help assure that maintenance is working in a supportive environment necessary to continue on to world-class objectives.
Figure 2-1: Corporate guidelines encourage a meaningful response from subordinate mining operations. The response could be a production strategy based on proven techniques, principles and solid objectives necessary to achieve an effective mine operation. To bring about this outcome, objectives are assigned to confirm department responsibilities. Then, policies are added to clarify departmental interactions. From these objectives and policies, departments develop day-to-day procedures and incorporate them into departmental programs for implementation. Testing confirms their validity and, if required, modification of the production strategy. These steps help assure that maintenance is working in a supportive environment necessary to continue on to world-class objectives.

THE PRODUCTION STRATEGY AS A SOLUTION
Mining corporations expect efficient operation and profitability from subordinate operations. Guidelines in the form of missions, objectives or policies are transmitted to individual operations for conversion into actions that will achieve the desired results. A production strategy can be the mine manager's plan for achieving corporate objectives. The production strategy assigns objectives (responsibilities) to all departments, to include how they will carry out or support maintenance. The strategy would also include policies for carrying out internal activities like planning or interdepartmental actions such as warehousing or purchasing providing needed materials for maintenance. Based on the manager’s objectives and policies, individual departments could devise or align procedures for internal departmental actions like maintenance planning and interdepartmental actions like the conduct of operations/maintenance scheduling. In turn, these collective procedures would constitute departmental programs in which interdepartmental actions overlap. The maintenance program, for example, would explain how maintenance planners order or reserve warehouse parts and materials. The warehouse program, in turn, would explain how to alert planners that the requested parts are available and the procedures for pick up or job-site delivery (Figure 2-2).

OUTLINING CLEAR OBJECTIVES
All departments require clear objectives so that their actions are aligned with the intent of the mine manager’s production strategy.

Figure 2-2: Based on corporate guidelines, mine or plant (like smelters) managers could develop a production strategy in which department objectives are assigned and policies provided to clarify interdepartmental actions. Individual departments would respond by developing procedures to guide their internal department or interdepartmental actions. The collective procedures might then be formed into programs and details exchanged among various departments to verify their accuracy and effectiveness. Then to prevent any misunderstanding, the total mine population, including managers, would be educated on the details of all department programs. The end result could assure dedicated support of maintenance, interdepartmental cooperation and satisfaction of corporate objectives.
Figure 2-2: Based on corporate guidelines, mine or plant (like smelters) managers could develop a production strategy in which department objectives are assigned and policies provided to clarify interdepartmental actions. Individual departments would respond by developing procedures to guide their internal department or interdepartmental actions. The collective procedures might then be formed into programs and details exchanged among various departments to verify their accuracy and effectiveness. Then to prevent any misunderstanding, the total mine population, including managers, would be educated on the details of all department programs. The end result could assure dedicated support of maintenance, interdepartmental cooperation and satisfaction of corporate objectives.

Maintenance Objective—(1) Keep production equipment in a safe, effective, as designed, operating condition so that production targets can be met on time and at least cost. (2) Perform approved, properly engineered and correctly funded non-maintenance work (such as construction and equipment installation) only when work does not reduce the capability for carrying out maintenance. (3) Operate support facilities (such as power generation) if necessary resources are allocated within the authorized workforce and are properly budgeted. (4) Monitor performance of contractor support when utilized to perform maintenance or capital work.

The objective clarifies maintenance responsibilities and precedence. Wording is important. “As designed” means that equipment modification is not maintenance. Project work is non-maintenance work requiring management-level approval, proper engineering and capital funding. It is done only after resources satisfy production equipment maintenance needs. Operating functions (like power generation) must be properly staffed and budgeted. Such an objective clarifies essential maintenance work responsibilities while advising the total mine of maintenance capabilities, limitations and constraints.

Similar objectives might be assigned to other departments to bring their actions into alignment with maintenance and the mine manager’s production strategy.

Operations Objective—Operate equipment properly to meet established production, quality and cost targets. Utilize maintenance services effectively to ensure availability of reliable equipment. Perform operator maintenance in coordination with maintenance.

Follow established work order proce dures in requesting work and utilize the work order system to control work performed by operating personnel. Follow guidelines in requesting non-maintenance support. Conduct weekly scheduling meetings with maintenance and engineering to determine the requirement for equipment shutdown. Negotiate best shutdown times to comply with operating needs.

Warehousing Objective—Stock and replenish specified repair materials, components and consumables to ensure they are available for use as required. Arrange procedures to have selected components rebuilt and restocked in inventory. Provide effective stock issue and return procedures. Operate tool room to ensure availability, maintenance and accountability of specified tools.

Purchasing Objective—Provide purchasing and contracting support to obtain materials and services as requested by operating departments. Supply materials and services to permit maintenance, maintenance–support or projects to be dependably scheduled and carried out with on-time completion at agreed upon costs.

Accounting Objective—Establish a suitable information system that allows operating departments to develop and utilize information to control operations and work while providing plant-level cost and performance information. System should also provide for control of inventory, purchasing and operating activities. Confer with all departments as system is developed or identified to ensure ease of use and capability of field personnel to develop data to ensure timely, accurate and complete information is provided to all users.

Illustrative objectives like these provide clarification of the internal and interdepartmental responsibilities of each department to encourage and reinforce teamwork, mutual-support and cooperation.

POLICIES MAKE THE PROGRAM
Policies prescribe the manner in which departments conduct internal activities and interact to help satisfy the manager’s production strategy. They also clarify the objectives assigned to departments to preclude misunderstanding of roles and responsibilities. Objectives spell out what to do while policies explain how. Together they form the basis by which departments organize internal and interdepartmental procedures into operating programs. In turn, these programs explain what each department does, who does what, how and why.

A typical series of policies as they relate to maintenance activities is shown in the accompanying sidebar. The policies identify what maintenance is to do and how to do it. They also guide the actions of other departments in cooperating with maintenance.

It is important to acknowledge that the detail of such illustrative policies could imply “micromanagement” by mine managers. Rather, they represent thoughtful guidelines of a manager who knows that effective maintenance is a step on the pathway to world class status for his operation.

Departmental objectives together with policies clarifying these objectives are established by the mine manager’s production strategy. In turn, their incorporation into departmental programs helps to ensure operational integrity, cooperation and mutual support among all mining departments that are the ingredients of a highly successful mining operation.

Next month: Step 3—How to develop, document, test and implement an effective mine maintenance management program.


Paul D. Tomlingson ([email protected]) is a Denver-based maintenance management consultant. His latest book, Maintenance in Transition—The Journey to World-class Maintenance, includes a comprehensive maintenance terminology appendix and a recommended listing of proven objectives and policies. Copies of the book (ISBN 978-1-4675-9069-3, 395 pp.) can be purchased from the author. He welcomes inquiries concerning these articles.


Policies—Spelling it Out

Departmental Responsibilities
• Each department manager will ensure compliance with the policies covering the conduct of maintenance.
• Each department will develop and publish procedures by which other departments may obtain their services.
• Operations will be responsible for the effective utilization of maintenance services.
• Maintenance will be responsible for developing an effective maintenance program, educating personnel on its elements and carrying it out diligently. They will also make effective use of resources and ensure that quality work is performed.

Terminology
• Maintenance will publish workload definitions and appropriate terminology to ensure their understanding and proper utilization.

Work Order System
• The work order system will be used to request, plan, schedule, assign and control all maintenance work. At the discretion of each department manager, the system can be used to control work requiring effective control, resource use, cost and performance information.

Preventive Maintenance (PM)
• Maintenance will conduct a detection-oriented preventive maintenance (PM) program. The program will include equipment inspection, condition-monitoring, and testing to help uncover equipment deficiencies and avoid premature failure. The PM program will also provide lubrication services, cleaning, adjusting and minor component replacement to help extend equipment life.
• Comprehensive predictive techniques will be integrated into the PM program to ensure modern asset management and reliability technology is fully utilized.
• PM will take precedence over every aspect of maintenance except bona-fide emergency work.
• No major repairs will be initiated until PM services have established the exact condition of the equipment and elements of the repair have been correctly identified.
• The overall preventive maintenance program will be assessed annually. Assessors will ensure that it covers all equipment requiring services and that the most appropriate types of services are applied at the correct intervals. The performance of the PM program in reducing equipment failures and extending equipment life will be verified.
• Equipment operators will perform appropriate preventive maintenance services to help ensure the reliable operation of equipment.

Planning and Scheduling
• Planning and scheduling will be applied to comprehensive jobs e.g., overhauls, major component replacements, etc.) to ensure that work is well-organized in advance, properly scheduled and completed productively and expeditiously.
• Criteria will be developed to help determine which work will be planned, and all major repairs meeting the criteria will be subjected to planning procedures unless an emergency repair is indicated.

Information
• Maintenance will develop and use information concerning the utilization of labor, the status of work, backlog, cost and repair history to ensure effective control of its activities and related economic decisions such as equipment replacement.
• Minimum necessary administrative information will be developed and used.
• Performance indices will be used to evaluate short-term accomplishments and long-term trends.

Organization
• The maintenance workload will be measured on a regular basis to help determine the proper size and craft composition of the work force.
• The productivity of maintenance will be measured on a regular, continuing basis to monitor progress in improving the control of labor.
• Every effort will be made to implement and utilize organizational and management techniques like teams or Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) to ensure the most productive use of maintenance personnel.

Setting Priorities
• Maintenance will publish a priority-setting procedure that allows other departments to communicate the importance of work and maintenance to effectively allocate its resources.
• The procedure will facilitate the assignment of the relative importance of jobs and the time within which the jobs should be completed.

Maintenance Engineering
• Maintenance/reliability engineering will be emphasized to ensure the maintainability and reliability of equipment.
• Current technology will be utilized to facilitate effective maintenance.
• Equipment modification requires approval by maintenance engineering and assurance of future reliability and ease of maintenance.
• All new equipment installations will be reviewed by maintenance engineering to verify work quality and to ensure their subsequent maintainability.
• Standards will be developed and applied to all instances of repetitive periodic major maintenance like major component replacements.
• The most effective predictive techniques will be used to supplement condition-monitoring carried out as part of the preventive maintenance program.

Material Control
• Established procedures for purchasing and the withdrawal or return of stocked materials will be strictly adhered to by all plant personnel.
• Parts will not be removed from any unit of equipment and used to restore another unit to operating condition without explicit authorization from the maintenance manager.
• Maintenance will return unused stock materials to the warehouse. Maintenance will not attempt to store such materials.

Non-maintenance Work
• Engineering, operations and maintenance are jointly responsible for ensuring that all non-maintenance projects (construction, modification, equipment installation etc.) are necessary, feasible, properly engineered and correctly funded before work commences.
• Maintenance is authorized to perform project work such as: construction, modification, equipment installation and relocation only when the maintenance workload permits. Otherwise, contractor support will be obtained subject to the current labor agreement.
• Equipment modifications will be reviewed to determine their necessity, feasibility and correct funding prior to the work being assigned to maintenance. All such work will be reviewed by maintenance engineering before work commences.

 

 

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