An investment worth hundreds of millions of dollars. New contracts with big name clients. So far so good until the unexpected happens – equipment breakdown that leads to unplanned maintenance and business disruption, impacting the resilience of the mining site.
This type of scenario is unfortunately all too common. As the insurer for more than 300 mining sites worldwide, including more than 50 in Australia, FM Global has collected large volumes of data on mining sector losses during the past two decades.
Mechanical breakdown (26 per cent), fire (20 per cent) and electrical breakdown (18 per cent) have been the biggest causes of loss among our mining clients. Mechanical and electrical breakdowns account for almost half of all losses.
More recently, we’ve noticed a trend of business interruption growing as a proportion of equipment breakdown losses. Miners in general are putting equipment under more intense stress.
There’s clearly a lot at stake when machinery stops working. So, how can the industry improve this state of affairs? The answer is data – and acting on what it tells us.
We often find that businesses fail to prioritise equipment maintenance appropriately for the risks involved. This isn’t due to a lack of monitoring. We often see elaborate systems in place during site visits. Vibration monitoring, online monitoring of transformers and bushings – there’s a ton of predictive technology now being used.
The problem is that they’re not doing enough with the data collected. They’re suffering from information overload.
That’s why we recommend data plays a role in determining which pieces of equipment to monitor as part of the asset integrity program. By knowing the data collected relates to a critical piece of equipment, miners can focus on what matters to improve equipment integrity and reliability.
Conducting an audit can help to identify the most critical pieces of equipment before embarking on a monitoring program. Cross-referencing this with a list of equipment that’s most likely to suffer breakdowns is a great way to identify priorities. When you know that a red flag relates to a critical piece of equipment, you’re more likely to act.
To help identify the most critical equipment, FM Global provides insights based on a large and deep pool of historical data gathered from thousands of pieces of equipment over a significant period of time. Clients learn from industry experience, not just their own.
This data looks at seven key equipment factors – maintenance, operating conditions, environment, operators, history, safety devices, and contingency planning – to assess mechanical and electrical integrity. These factors are the key components that can link together to explain most mechanical and electrical losses and identify the equipment most at risk to focus risk inspection, testing and maintenance. Our data shows that if a piece of equipment has more than three unsatisfactory factors, loss frequency and severity increase.
The usual suspects
Across a typical mining facility, our data suggests that large milling machines, semi-autogenous grinding (SAG) mills, ship loaders, stackers and reclaimers, large drives on conveyors, and unique electrical equipment like transformers and switchgears are most vulnerable to breakdown.
We’re using this data to help guide our own decisions. With a view to addressing an increase in boiler and machinery (B&M) breakdowns, FM Global is expanding its team of specialists and bringing on an additional 60 engineers worldwide.
Engineers will provide support to the mining, chemical, power generation, forestry and heavy industries among others. This will help us to provide even better support. We’re also making good use of new monitoring tools.
More isn’t necessarily better when it comes to equipment monitoring. The key is to be strategic, focusing on the equipment most at risk of breakdown that creates the greatest negative impact to the operation. With the right data guiding the right decisions on equipment monitoring and inspection, testing and maintenance as part of the asset integrity program, mining clients are driving down losses that have become too large and frequent and becoming more resilient in the process.