What is the best way to balance stock and cashflow?
When deciding on how many mining spare parts you should stock on site, evaluate the operating conditions, parts availability, cashflow and the consequences of machine downtime.
Cutting Edge’s Mining Solutions Manager, Ian Ewart, helps maintenance superintendents tailor their spare parts stock levels to their business requirements, maximising cashflow and minimising downtime.
Ian said that while there are many variables that determine the required amount of spare parts stock levels, processes can be put in place to minimise the chance of having a machine offline or ordering three years’ worth of parts.
“It is site and condition specific and will vary from site-to-site, pit-to-pit and even different depths of the same pit,” he said.
“A grader blade might last significantly longer in a coal mine than in an iron ore mine. By working closely with your Solution Manager we can ensure you are using and stocking the right part for the right conditions.”
Parts availability and site location are also critical. Having access to same-day parts coupled with good communication with you parts provider allows less parts to be carried on site.
“Is it a standard stock item with every branch having hundreds on the shelf? Or is it a rarer item or even a custom-built product?” Ian asks.
“Understanding your products lead times is essential.”
“Then there’s transport time. If it’s coming from Sydney to the Pilbarra it could take two weeks to transport, so we must factor that in.”
This variability means a mining spare parts inventory management strategy is required.
Monitor and record wear:
Critical to the process is having maintenance teams carefully monitoring and recording the wear of different parts to build a picture of how long they last in varying operating conditions.
This data should be regularly analysed and compared to track changes and inform stock levels and future ordering requirements.
Match maintenance schedules with parts lifespan:
If you hate throwing away parts that still have wear left in them during maintenance schedules, then consider swapping that part so its lifespan matches the maintenance schedule.
“Most sites do changeouts when servicing their machines and we often discover they are throwing away parts with usable material left,” Ian said.
“Generally, I recommend changing to a heavy-duty part, or we apply a tungsten carbide coating to extend wear life to match with machine service intervals.”
Using the correct G.E.T to coincide with your machine service intervals and reducing the need for unnecessary downtime is critical.
Know the cost of having a machine offline:
The cost of having a machine offline can be significant, so many sites decide to hold far more stock than they require to avoid any chance of running out.
“Some sites may not have the cashflow and run much leaner stock levels, relying on us for delivery,” Ian said, adding that Cutting Edges’ eight branches around the country benefits those who require parts quickly.
Work out your min-max inventory levels:
Having analysed the different variables, you can establish minimum and maximum mining spare parts stock holding levels.
“We often help sites work out their min-max levels by taking all of the above into account. We attend sites and conduct a site audit and build out min-max recommendations,” Ian said.
However, even then it is not a set and forget model and requires ongoing site visits and auditing.
“We want to know if more machines have been added or removed from the fleet. Or can we help you manage your obsolete G.E.T or assist you with not ending up with obsolete G.E.T?”
“It is a balance. We work as part of your business in a long-term relationship to build out, monitor and update the inventory management framework.”
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