En-Sync 8020 Iron Ore

The Client
Description: Swiss-based iron-ore producer operating
Case Location: Ukraine
Products:  Iron ore mining and iron ore pellets

The Situation
The client had a substantial order book, and the business was very profitable and needed to increase the volume of finished goods significantly to continue to satisfy orders and to help expand the business.

The initial strategy was to spend vast amounts of financial resources in capital expenditure and investment to purchase more machinery in an effort to increase the volumes being produced.  Whilst this was a feasible approach it was not considered to be the best solution, as the size of investments required would have significantly impacted the benefits achieved from any increases in production and sales.

Instead, our consultants were asked to review the current mining and processing operations and develop increased efficiencies through productivity and machine utilisation to achieve the desired volumes and avoiding capital expenditure.

Additionally, the client wanted a skills transition as part of the project whereby its identified best talent had the opportunity to learn and understand a better way of managing the business, thereby supporting their future development.

The Implementation Process
The client’s improvement team was assembled and trained in the most common losses that affect the overall equipment efficiency from machines and processes. These included availability, utilisation and quality elements.   As the objective was to maximise the volume being produced, all the factors that affect equipment efficiency had to be identified, measured and then a prioritised in a plan to remove the waste and maximise the benefits of the business.

Hidden People losses Hidden Machine losses OEE Parameter
Waiting Breakdowns & Failures Down Time losses that effect availability
Transporting Setups & Changeovers
Inventory Minor Stoppages Effect Performance or utilisation
Over Production Reduced Speed
Over Processing Defects & Rework Effect Quality
Motion Start-up & Yield Loss

Observations of the maintenance functions of both fixed and mobile equipment showed tremendous potential and opportunity for improvements that would significantly drive throughput and volume gains.

As an example, one such piece of equipment was an in-pit gyratory crusher, which enabled ore to be broken down and conveyed into stockpiles at the top of the mine, which would then be loaded onto trains and transported to the processing plant. The opportunities and cost savings of utilising the conveyor and input crusher against using multiple loads and haul trucks allowed not only savings related to the haulage of the ore, but also significantly reduced the cycle times of those vehicles by approximately 50% because they no longer had to travel the full distance. However, maintenance shutdowns caused the gyratory crusher to lose 3 or 4 days per month due to necessary and planned maintenance.  Additionally, it should also be noted that there was a general caution of running the machinery to its maximum rated capacity. Upon average the gyratory crusher assisted the mine by hauling approximately 750,000 t of ore per month prior to any interventions.

En-Sync 8020 Gyratory Crusher 2

The first step was to fully understand what the rated capacities of the equipment were measured those against what was actually being achieved. This helped to identify additional opportunities in utilisation by simply directing more workflow through the crusher and conveyor.
The team began to focus on the known reasons for machine downtime. Of which the biggest offender or cause was a regular monthly maintenance. To assist them in reducing the time required for the maintenance tasks to be carried out whilst ensuring they were all carried out to the required quality, the team decided to implement SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Dies) exercises.

Using a standard conversion matrix the team set about observing the maintenance tasks being carried out. The whole purpose of SMED is to try to reduce the time required for machinery or processes to be stopped. The conversion matrix allows the activities to be listed and then considered what may be taken “off-line”.

En-Sync 8020 Gyratory Crusher

The SMED exercises consisted of a simple four step process

  1. First observations were made without any interruption to the initial process. Then working alongside the maintenance operators, managers and supervisors the tasks were reviewed to consider what tasks could be taken and worked on before the machinery needed to be shut down.
  2. Separating the internal and external tasks allows instant improvements in available time but also focuses the maintenance crews on the sequence in which the work is being carried out.
  3. This allows the third step to take place whereby those accountable for the maintenance operations are able to fully utilise their expertise and knowledge to further convert elements and make as many tasks as possible to be carried out whilst the machinery is online.
  4. Streamlining the tasks enables both the internal and external tasks to be further simplified by interrogating the methods and sequence employed, which includes questioning whether correct tooling is suitable for the tasks being carried out.
   Time Taken
Off Line  On Line  Total 
 Before SMED  84 84 
 Separate internal and external tasks  58.8 25.2  84 
 Convert Tasks  33.6 50.4   84
 Streamline Tasks  28 40   68
Downtime Reduction   26    

It is vitally important that information was captured from the outset before any changes or initiatives were employed. Seeing the facts relating to the improvements generated significant momentum but also helped grow confidence in the maintenance team and allowed the department as a whole to celebrate successes.

The Results
Not only did the client achieve consistently their 750,000 t per month target, they surpassed 1 million tonnes per month which were known as a mental inhibitor as many thought it could not be achieved, by freeing up an additional 56 hours of operation time excelled further to 1.2 million tonnes per month and the clients were looking forward to increasing it further.

The example given in the case study was just one of many operations whereby SMED was used to release additional capacity in the processes, by eliminating production losses and ensuring full advantage was taken to plan and sequence maintenance tasks, with the production environment in mind.

Fixed and mobile equipment went through the same process releasing large amounts of available time through key equipment to enable the new production targets and company goals to be realised and surpassed.

Our Experience
En-Sync 8020 is a professional consulting and business services provider. Our experience in business consultation, organisation design, modern manufacturing techniques, mining methods and process technologies allow us to facilitate our client success by ensuring that they have a robust and well-communicated strategy, a healthy structure and reliable systems and processes, supporting the right people in the right roles.