Attempts to comply with perceived, but not actual, regulatory requirements are leading to over-maintenance and increasing the likelihood of failures, according to director Daryl Mather.
“Longwall maintenance is often seen as both a necessary evil and as a lever to increased asset performance,” he said.
“This often results in the belief that ‘more is better’, driving efforts to create exclusive maintenance shifts, increasing the frequency of inspections and services, and increasingly rigorous overhaul procedures.”
Despite these actions, utilisation continues to languish at less than 100 hours per week and unavailability remains a large contributor to low utilisation figures, according to the research.
The information was taken from five detailed maintenance and reliability analyses of new and existing longwalls over two years, using the reliability centred maintenance (RCM) method.
RCM is a rigorous approach to developing maintenance tactics that will result in the minimum safe level of maintenance for a given performance level and includes an approach to managing human error.
“Many maintenance activities are based on traditional approaches instead of the characteristics and consequences of failure,” Mather said in his report.
“High asset availability cannot be achieved without a parallel focus on operating practices and procedures.”
Mather said it had long been accepted that RCM would cause a reduction of 25-75% in maintenance time where there was a routine schedule in place.
“Within the longwall analyses performed, we have reduced maintenance routines by between 35% and less than 90%, while at the same time substantially reducing the risk of safety related asset failures,” Mather said.
Reliability Success will be running training courses on RCM for longwalls in Brisbane on 28 November.