When Rio Tinto needed to bring one of its most important assets back to as-new condition at its Gove bauxite operation in the Northern Territory, the company turned to Hastings Deering for the best possible solution.
At any mine site, the need to remove a key asset for nine weeks will have a significant impact on the delivery of production targets.
When that asset is a powerhouse in mining applications, such as the Cat D11T Dozer, strategic forward planning is critically important.
The Cat D11T Dozer is purpose built to move more material and ensure maximum availability through its planned lifecycle.
For Rio Tinto, Dozer 79 had operated for more than 37,000 hours, ripping and pushing bauxite at the company’s Gove open cut mining operation in the Northern Territory.
The major miner knew that it wanted to undergo a Cat Certified Rebuild for its dozer, but had to come up with an innovative way to complete this while minimising equipment downtime.
Rio Tinto mining maintenance superintendent Brendan Coleing says the Gove operation focusses heavily on building safe and reliable machinery to meet the targeted life of its assets and maintenance schedules.
“With a 24/7 operation, we need to plan and strategically think about our assets, their maintenance and lifecycle,” Coleing says.
“By planning large maintenance projects in advance at Rio Tinto, we’ve been able to compensate for machinery downtime and achieve some great energy efficiencies.”
One of the key projects that allowed for the nine-week Cat Certified Rebuild was the D11R repower project.
In early 2020, the Hastings Deering team worked with Rio Tinto on an innovative alternative solution for engine replacement for the miner’s D11R fleet that reduced costs, fuel use and emissions while extending lifespans.
This saw them take the 3508 engines that the machines originally came with and replace them with the newer C32 engines.
“Recent success with repowering our D11 fleet with C32 engines has helped our mining operations move more bauxite due to increased power in the machine,” Coleing says.
“This in turn allowed us to remove Dozer 79 out of production, and into the workshop to complete a Cat Certified Rebuild.”
Alongside the increase in machine availability, the project presented a budgeted fuel burn reduction of up to 25 per cent.
“Our like-for-like material movements are now done with significantly less fuel, which is a great environmental outcome. They’re also quieter, making them a little more comfortable for the operator,” Coleing says.
With Cat equipment built to perform over multiple lifetimes, the Cat Certified Rebuild was the most efficient way to help get the most economic value out of the original asset investment.
A Cat Certified Rebuild is a full machine project that provides a like-new machine, inclusive of all Cat updates to help achieve a full machine life supported by the Caterpillar warranty.
“Given Dozer 79’s upcoming power train, hydraulic and major component change outs, a Cat Certified Rebuild was a cost-effective way for us to maintain the asset through to the end of its target life,” Coeling says.
Hastings Deering service manager Brad Read says the Cat Certified Rebuild program is an efficient way for mining companies to improve the planned lifecycle of their machines.
“Customers opt for a Cat Certified Rebuild as it provides the ability to rebuild their machine, including all technological advancements, over purchasing a new machine,” Read says. “This helps to reduce capital expenditure.”
The Cat Certified Rebuild offered an extended scope of work over a standard rebuild and took careful planning between the Rio Tinto and Hastings Deering teams.
“The Cat Certified Rebuild takes up to nine weeks to complete and covers an extended scope of work including power train replacement, hydraulics and electrical components, cab overhaul, work implement overhaul and ET testing and painting,” Read says.
“Effective planning is critical to the success of a large-scale project like a rebuild. The team needs to ensure all stages of the rebuild have been planned, scheduled and on time, to guarantee machine delivery back to the customer. It is essential to support our customers in their operation.”
By planning the Cat Certified Rebuild after the success of the C32 repower project, Rio Tinto and Hastings Deering improved the performance of the equipment and compensated for the removal of Dozer 79.
“By undertaking work in this manner, we’ve removed a mass amount of forward log of work, that not only gave us immediate availability but provided us with an improved asset through to the end of the machine life,” Coleing concludes.
This story also appears in the October issue of Australian Mining.