Mines must cash in on data dividend.
Taking a more holistic approach to tyre procurement and management is essential if mines are to improve safety and sustainability.
By Carl Martins, Executive Manager: Mining Services, Bridgestone Southern Africa
“Between a rock and a hard place” is as good a summation of mining as any. The industry is defined by its tough operating conditions typically in remote areas, a truly testing environment for both people and machines, as well as the supply chains that support them.
However, the light at the end of the tunnel is the growing ability to use data to improve safety and productivity, and generally make the operation more sustainable. In particular, the smart use of data can improve productivity and performance by transforming how the mine procures and manages its tyres, the unsung heroes that permit the heaviest of equipment to carry huge loads across testing terrain, day after day.
Tyre manufacturers like Bridgestone splash out on R&D to improve tyre design and manufacture, but we have come to believe that this is just not enough. It’s only by managing the entire tyre life cycle that mines can realise the full benefits from their tyres: specialist expertise backed up by data is essential.
Here’s how an ideal solutions-based approach would work:
Choose the right tyres. Each mine is unique. What is the type of rock the vehicles will be operating on? Will the tyres be used on long hauls and so need to be designed for heat resistance, or is cut resistance the primary consideration?
A solution-oriented tyre supplier is able to provide a site-severity survey to help scope the types of tyres needed for various applications on the specific mine.
Collect data continuously. Regularly collected data is vital in providing insights into tyre condition. Each tyre needs to be assessed to determine any damage and what remediation is required.
Tyre pressure, tread, tyre heat are all vital in order to ensure the tyre is operating optimally. GPS data can also be used to build up a picture of what kind of conditions the vehicles (and thus their tyres) operate; for example, cycle speeds and lateral and vertical acceleration are recorded and assessed in the light of the impact on the tyres.
In short, the more data it has, the better the company can understand the life cycle of its tyres and plan accordingly. It can also better understand the relationship between better tyre management, mine production, and reduced downtime. Increased productivity in the range of 7%-10% can be achieved.
Establish field services. The basic data from regular tyre surveys needs to be acted on, something that can be a challenge at a remote site. The mine needs the capability to undertake repairs to tyres and also to change them—no easy task given their size and weight.
Improve forecasting and planning to ensure timeous supply. A COVID-19 hangover and the Ukraine War have definitely disrupted supply chains but, these considerations aside, specialized mining tyres have an exceptionally long lead time from factory floor to fitment; four to five months is average as production takes a month, shipping 6-8 weeks and then there is the challenge of in-country logistics.
However, it needs to be recognized that the supply chain is vulnerable on multiple fronts, including container shortages, shipment delays and strikes, as well as normal production issues and shortages of raw materials. All of these factors make planning a complex business.
In conclusion, given all of these factors, it is clear that a solutions-based approach will have significant benefits. Not only will the mine have the right tyres for its specific conditions, it will become better able to make evidence-based decisions about how to maximise the performance of its tyres and so improve its bottom line. In turn, all of that information can be put to use to make certain that the mine never runs out of the tyres it requires to keep its operations running smoothly.
The choice is clear. Mines can either treat tyres as a simple question of procurement and then develop their own capabilities in managing their life cycles, or they can build long-term, solutions-focused relationships with their tyre suppliers. Of course, the former is theoretically possible, but it would undoubtedly be a significant distraction from core business. Building a relationship with a reputable supplier makes much more sense, and the long-term benefits will be much greater.
Media information: Keitumetse Magopa, Public Relations Specialist.
Issued by The Riverbed Agency on behalf of Bridgestone Southern Africa: Lungile Manganyi, Senior Accounts Executive, E: firstname.lastname@example.org C: +27 78 595 2467, T: +27 86 099 4164
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