Australian Mining speaks to Bridgestone Mining Solutions Australia’s onsite service experts to find out what makes the service so enduring.
Bridgestone Mining Solutions Australia has been providing wheel and tyre servicing to mining customers for over 30 years. It has 14 branch locations across Australia, several of which have a strong mining industry focus.
In the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales alone, the company currently undertakes several Onsite Service contracts. These contracts also extend to the Boggabri region and several other mining areas. Dave Leadbeatter, BMSA regional executive manager – southern region, oversees the company’s onsite service activities in the Hunter Valley.
“Above anything else, safety is our first priority” says Leadbeatter.
BMSA’s Onsite Service has brought significant gains to a major mining client’s operation at a large open cut coal mining operation in the region. Leadbeatter admits that when BMSA’s work started at the mine upon taking over from a previous provider, the client’s tyre life had not been very good. The BMSA team endeavoured to improve haulage cycles and tyre monitoring in order to improve the situation.
“They acknowledged that tyre life was a major issue for them — they even used to present it in their safety bulletin on a monthly basis,” explains Leadbeatter.
“Since we’ve been onsite tyre life has gone up considerably, especially on their ultra class trucks. Our service has saved them quite a bit of money.”
BMSA checks wheels at specific intervals depending on the application and are subsequently tested (blast and NDT) to see if they require repair. If they do not require repair they are painted and returned to service thus reducing ongoing downtime for wheel failure.
Onsite service is available through contracts or occasional one-off jobs, particularly for sub-contractors of Bridgestone clients, whose performance quandaries can have a knock-on effect to the contract principal’s production.
BMSA employs professionally trained BMSA tyre repair staff that have gone through ASQA (Australian Skills Quality Authority) certification for onsite repairs, with all servicing meeting or exceeding Australian standards.
While turnaround time is considered important, the staff is trained not to rush things, offering a pragmatic approach to wheel and tyre servicing designed to minimise downtime, provide long-term cost savings and focus on safety.
In line with this approach, service staff will sometimes install Bridgestone’s proprietary B-TAG technology, a real-time tyre pressure and monitoring system internally developed by Bridgestone that allows for real-time monitoring.
“One of the biggest problems for tyres is heat and given that such a volume of rubber is used in the tyres, B-TAG allows us to understand the temperatures that the tyres are operating at before becoming critical and before separation may occur,” explains Leadbeatter.
BMSA’s status as a tyre manufacturer allows the company to make changes to tyre construction and compounding as part of the service. Product support also extends to heat and GPS studies of equipment. When this is coupled with onsite service, there is an added value to both BMSA and customers with the constant monitoring enabling product improvements returning the customer improved tyre performance.
In line with their training, BMSA onsite service staff perform their work in a safe and efficient manner that emphasises methodology over time frames, and they are encouraged to share their expertise with the client.
“Our tyre fitters also pass on tyre awareness education to individual operators,” says Simon Galbraith, a senior specialist onsite service – south.
“When it comes to inspection of the tyres, if an operator has a question about them, our staff will actually have a discussion with the operator, giving them suitable advice about the tyre injury, including how it happens and why it is either safe to continue in operation or needs to be changed”.
Galbraith has been with Bridgestone for over 12 years, starting with the company as a tyre fitter before becoming an onsite supervisor and eventually into Service Management.
“We take an unbiased approach to our tyre management to achieve the maximum performance out of any brand of tyre our customers use. Amongst other management tools, we focus on the preventative maintenance of tyres by having damage repaired early rather than let the damage propagate to a state that may not be repairable and shorten the tyre life.”
Galbraith explains that while imparting advice to clients regarding possible improvements to tyre life, safety is the top priority.
“Our onsite service team holds the responsibility of maintaining the customer’s compliance to their Tyre and Rim Management Plans”.
“We assist to heighten awareness of tyre safety onsite, from the Operator level to site Management” he says.
“Having a good safety system and culture helps avoid incidents, injuries and more importantly provides employees a safe place of work.
“Extension of tyre life is never done at the cost of reduced safety to the tyre fitters, customer employees or asset damage”.
Bridgestone is a registered training organisation (RTO#90415) and tyre fitters are trained to a nationally recognised standard: RII20215 Certificate II in Surface Extraction Operations – Tyre Servicing for Heavy Duty Equipment.
Both internal and external Certificate II training is provided for BMSA employees and customer maintenance personnel from one of three training facilities located in Perth, Mackay and the Hunter Valley respectively.
“Our onsite service can offer customers additional value across the supply chain by reducing the number of required vendors,” explains Murray Shea, BMSA senior specialist onsite service, west.
“Instead of having 10 different vendors, everything is done through Bridgestone, so there’s only one point of contact if customers have an issue.”
Bridgestone’s onsite service operates under the mantra that tyres are not a commodity, but an asset, and prides itself on its long-standing work at Australian mine sites.