How mining companies can reduce TCO and improve uptime

How can you make sure that your mining operations are as efficient and profitable as possible? How can you be certain that your mining engines are up for the job? Here are some of the most important factors to consider in order to reduce TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) and improve uptime in mining operations.

Mining engines with low ventilation rates and efficient exhaust aftertreatment systems

The cost of ventilation is significant in any mining environment. Additionally, emission standards for underground mining operations are getting stricter. Your mining engines should have the lowest ventilation rate possible, meaning they should produce the lowest possible amount of emissions. This contributes not only to a reduced TCO, but to a safer and cleaner work environment as well.

Volvo Penta’s mining engines use exhaust aftertreatment systems to reduce their emissions. As less nitrogen oxides and hazardous particles are emitted, less ventilation is required. Consequently, operators can lower their energy costs while maintaining uptime. Our engines’ ventilation rate is determined by MSHA (the Mine Safety and Health Administration) in the United States, as well as CANMET (Canada Centre for Mineral and Energy Technology) in Canada. Their certifications serve as international benchmarks for underground mining ventilation worldwide.

Predictive maintenance and mining engines with long service intervals help improve uptime 

When a mining engine fails, it is usually better to install a new engine in its stead right away. Once replaced, the old engine can be repaired outside the machine, or sent off to be remanufactured. Operators need to be able to keep production going, and ensure that machines or vehicles are up and running again as soon as possible. Ensuring maximum uptime is essential in a mine, so standstills and unplanned maintenance must be kept to a minimum.

Predictive maintenance allows operators and mining engine manufacturers to anticipate an engine’s service needs. Planned engine service intervals should also be few and far between. Volvo Penta’s mining engines have an approximate service interval of 1,000 hours. Service and repairs need to be accessible on-site or through a reliable, global service network. This not least since many mines are located in remote areas.

Mining engines TCO uptime

Your mining engines must be able to handle truly challenging work environments

In addition to their remoteness, mines are often challenging work environments in and of themselves: dusty or wet; hot or cold; lots of inclines and/or declines, and of course vibrations. Your engines must be able to handle these conditions. That includes wiring harnesses and other critical components too, so make sure to choose tried and tested solutions.

A robust mining engine should respond quickly at all times. Not only in terms of uptime and production stability, but for security reasons too. For example: when the operator exits the cockpit, the engine should switch off automatically, and do so smoothly even when running at high rpm.

Collaboration improves mining engine capacity

By working closely together, OEMs and engine manufacturers can develop engines particularly well-adapted to demanding working conditions. Proactive collaboration can help prevent certain problems or errors altogether, as engine functions are added, refined and thoroughly tested. The result is mining engines that lower TCO and improve uptime, even in challenging operations. So, OEMs that communicate openly with their suppliers and partners have a lot to gain.

As for our mining engines, Volvo Penta conducts field tests inside mines (for up to 24 months). This as part of our product development, to make sure the engines perform as intended. This is an ongoing process, with obvious differences between customers and their applications. However, we are proud to say that all our industry engine models are used in mining applications around the world.

An aftermarket model that suits your needs and mining operations

Essentially, your engines are only as good as your aftermarket. Even state-of-the-art diesel engines do not last forever. When they need maintenance, or replacing, you need to have equally state-of-the-art service networks to assist you. This goes for your mining engines, components, and certainly service personnel too.

Volvo Penta has a global presence, thanks to our dealer network and our parts distribution network. We are happy to assist you, wherever you are located. That said, many OEM and mining companies like to be self-serving, with key expertise and crucial components on-site at all times. Similarly, they often want to be able to conduct certain services and maintenance themselves. For these reasons, we are often able to tailor our aftermarket offer to suit customers’ specific wishes and requirements. To us, that is yet another method of efficiently reducing the TCO and improving the uptime of your mining operations.

If this topic is of interest to you, I suggest that you read the two other articles in this series as well: Ensure optimal mining engine performance and energy efficiency and Flexible aftermarket solutions for the mining industry. You may also want to read our article on how to improve stone crusher performance and uptime. Want to know more about how we work with TCO and uptime in the mining industry? Feel free to contact me at sam.palin@volvo.com.

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