This large iron ore mine in West Australia’s Pilbara region features eight open cut mines and three ore handling plants that can produce up to 15 million tonnes of iron ore per annum. Being in a remote area and operating in some of the most extreme conditions on the planet, they have long faced challenges with wear part service life and stock availability which has led to costly machinery downtime.
- 3 x CAT 16M Graders
- 3 x CAT 18M Graders
- Fleet of Dozers, Loaders, Excavators, Shovels, Dump Trucks and other machinery.
- 3 x Processing Plants
- Train line and loading facility
An international supply chain shortage and a remote site in extreme operating conditions meant that the existing wear parts supplier for this Pilbara iron ore mine was struggling to supply enough CAT 18M Grader Blades.
The long wait for grader blades meant the mine often had machines out for service, or they were unable to obtain parts at all, which was impacting machine availability and planned maintenance where other tasks are required.
The site’s maintenance manager knew he needed a more reliable solution, both in parts availability and in their service life. He contacted Cutting Edges in search of an Australian-based manufacturer that would be able to deliver what the mine site required.
The Pilbara region presents some of the most abrasive operating conditions in the world. Whereas a grader blade in Queensland or the Hunter Valley might last 1,000 hours, the same item in the Pilbara might only last 100 hours.
This meant regular grader blade changeouts were required on this mine’s fleet of CAT 18M and 16M Motor Graders resulting in excessive planned and unplanned downtime. While their minimum service interval was 250 hours, some of the grader blades were only lasting 80 or 90 hours.
This, combined with the remote nature of the site, saw their existing grade blade supplier struggle to meet demand. Even with numerous spares being store on site, they were often running out of parts, and as a result, their machines were regularly out of service for extended periods.
When COVID-related supply chains restrictions further impacted supply, the site’s maintenance manager knew he had to find a better solution.
The priority for Cutting Edges was to ensure the customer had sufficient grade blade stock to keep all their machines in operation. A Cutting Edges technician immediately attended the site, identified the required products, and then prioritised their production in our Sydney factory.
Even though they needed site-specific grader blades, Cutting Edges’s Sydney factory manufactured and supplied the 10 sets (30 grader blades – enough to ensure they could continue to run their fleet) within 3 weeks of being first contacted by the customer.
The research and development (R&D) team then worked with the site’s maintenance team to see if they could extend the life of their grader blades to meet their existing 250-hour maintenance schedules.
As well as achieving supply chain security, the site’s CAT 18M grader blades were soon reaching their 250-hour service interval thanks to a variety of proprietary material properties, and Cutting Edges‘ Tungsten Longlife Coating (TLC).
These significant achievements were a direct result of using Cutting Edge’s Australian-based manufacturing facilities, which have a dedication to customer service, custom solutions, and R&D.
The customer is now also avoiding lengthy international shipping delays that have increasingly been seen in recent years.
The Cutting Edges R&D team are now continuing to push the service life of the CAT 18M Grader Blades to reach the site’s 500-hour and 750- hour service intervals, further limiting throwaway material and driving return on investment.
By extending the service life of the CAT18M and 16M grader blades, this also reduces the number change outs required per year.
With less change outs required due to worn grader blades it then allows site maintenance to complete other component change outs during the planned maintenance period.
Less grader blade change outs also reduces the risk of injury on site, as the safest job is the one you don’t need to do.
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