Crowd sourcing at Caval Ridge

A SAFER way to perform maintenance on the filter presses at BHP Mitsubishi Alliance’s Caval Ridge Mine wash plant in Queensland has been developed using crowd sourcing.
Crowd sourcing at Caval Ridge Crowd sourcing at Caval Ridge Crowd sourcing at Caval Ridge Crowd sourcing at Caval Ridge Crowd sourcing at Caval Ridge

BHP's Caval Ridge mine in Queensland.

The system limits the exposure of maintenance personnel to rotating machinery during filter press repairs.

In January, Australian-owned Jord International was awarded a contract to work hand-in-hand with the maintenance team at Caval Ridge to pilot their solution.

BHP group procurement officer James Agar said the Supplier Innovation Program let the company crowd-source a broader range of unique and innovative solutions to business challenges.

"With filter press belt replacements, it is a time consuming task with lots of manual handling," he said.

"While there are processes in place to control the risks around that task, the new solution proposed through this innovation program eliminates the need for maintainers to be in physical contact with the filter press altogether."

The first belt installer will be in use by July, with the pilot to run for six months.

If successful the approach will be implemented permanently at Caval Ridge, and potentially other BMA sites using filter presses to remove moisture from coal rejects.

BHP's Queensland Coal division reported that volumes were 13% lower in the December quarter to 9.5 million tonnes as a result of the planned wash plant maintenance at Caval Ridge and significant wet weather impacts across most operations.

Jord International spokesman Kevin Barber said the Supply Innovation Program process was open with feedback shared and accepted by both parties.

"It has been a great opportunity to be engaged in solving a problem that you would otherwise not have been aware of," he said.

The Supplier Innovation Program was designed to make it easier for companies from the mining equipment, technology and services sector to work with BMA, while providing access to a broader range of unique and innovative solutions to business problems.

It follows a model that has operated successfully in BHP's Minerals Americas business for the last decade.

The program runs a series of challenges that work like a "hackathon", where BHP puts forward its business challenges to a group of suppliers who pitch ideas to solve them.

The "winning" solution can then proceed to a paid pilot program to test it before committing to its implementation. 

It makes it easier for the METS sector to access opportunities for ongoing work with BHP, while retaining their intellectual property.

The Caval Ridge challenge garnered interest from 235 suppliers across Australia, with 21 providing expressions of interest.

Through a series of interactive online workshops with representatives from the vendors, Caval Ridge, the Procurement Partners Innovation team and Austmine, nine companies were short-listed to present formal proposals.

BHP acting vice-president of procurement excellence Amanda O'Connor said the company looked forward to partnering with Jord to implement a successful solution eliminating safety risks.