Large West Australian Iron Ore Mine
This large iron ore mining, rail and port operation produces 55 million tonnes per annum in the West Australian Pilbara.
Operations include a railway – more than 340km long – to a purpose-built port facility at Port Hedland, as well as 13 apron feeders: eight on the mine site and five in the port.
After purchasing 13 new apron feeders from two original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) for a new mine site, this organisation wanted to set up strong spare parts management systems and maintenance schedules.
As a self-stated margin-focused business, price was a key factor, as was parts having the longest possible service life, and ordering and inventory management being easy.
Having long embraced Cutting Edges’ tailored Ground Engaging Tools (G.E.T) solutions, the mine’s maintenance team also requested a wear parts strategy and solution for their new apron feeders.
The maintenance team wanted to ensure that fit-for-purpose parts were in use to eliminate any unplanned downtime, and that spare parts were available when required. They also sought to save money on the cost of OEM parts.
However, the feeder pans on one of the OEM apron feeders were fabricated out of a mild steel and would not withstand the hard rock material and high impact conditions they were to be operating in.
Furthermore, with different brands of apron feeder pans in use, each using different OEM wear parts, chains, bolts and running gear, the maintenance team wanted to streamline the inventory management process to ensure there was no parts confusion during maintenance.
“Instead of having to individually order 221 pans and all the running gear they can order specific part kits for that apron feeder.”
– Ian Ewart, Export Development Manager, Cutting Edges
To simplify spare parts inventory management and order processing, Cutting Edges conducted a site audit and created parts lists for all apron feeders to understand exactly what was in use and what was required, before producing “Part Kits” for the various machines.
“The Part Kits mean that instead of having to individually order 221 pans and all the running gear like chains, carry rollers, return rollers and hundreds of connecting bolts, they can order specific Part Kits for that apron feeder,” according to Cutting Edges’ Export Development Manager, Ian Ewart.
“And in those kits they receive everything they need, whether feeder pans and bolts, chains or running gear. The chains are pre-built to the correct size, meaning less work onsite pressing together links and connecting parts,” Ian added.
“The kits come ready to go. saving time and simplifying inventory management.”
•Kit 1: Pans and connecting bolts
•Kit 2: Chains
•Kit 3: Carry Rollers
•Kit 4: Return Rollers
As well as developing parts lists and kits, the initial site audit also served as a tool to analyse the mine’s operating conditions and identify if any unsuitable wear parts were in use.
It was identified that the feeder pans on one of the the OEM apron feeders were fabricated out of mild steel and would lead to unplanned maintenance. A thicker, stronger, heat-treated cast alloy steel was required for the high impact conditions.
“The feeder pans were then reverse engineered and improvements also made as required: whether stiffer, or with a radius edge, or with added strength in the right place.”
The mine has achieved a range of product quality, efficiencies and financial benefits from engaging with Cutting Edges’ to deliver their apron feeder wear parts management solution.
• Simplified parts ordering processes and installation efficiencies with Cutting Edges’ Part Kits
• Inventory management efficiencies because they are only having to deal with one supplier, rather than multiple OEM suppliers
• Stronger, better, fit-for-purpose products that will reduce unplanned maintenance
• Reduced parts costs compared to OEM-supplied
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