As the resources industry globally looks to reduce costs across the board while still maintaining productivity.
One way is looking to its existing equipment base, and ensuring that it remains reliable by rebuilding older machines to almost as-new condition.
However there are some difficulties in doing this.
One of the major hurdles is that it requires equipment suppliers with the facilities, skills, and factory backing to rebuild equipment to a high, OEM-compliant standard with inbuilt durability and product quality expected from the machines.
An Australian nickel miner recently went down this rebuild route, bringing its seven year old Sandvik DD2420 development drill in to Sandvik's Kalgoorlie' customer service centre for a remanufacturing.
The scope of the works for the DD420 rebuild involved stripping the rig right down to its base chassis and components, replacing specified items, and repairing or replacing other parts as necessary to ensure it was once again OEM compliant.
This includes new powertrains; tyres; carrier components; a full testing of electric motors and air compressors; rewiring of the carrier and drilling circuits; re-hosing; fitting a new fire suppression system; and dismantling the drilling module for overhaul with replacement components including inner tubes, feed rails, and feed cradles.
According to Nathan Bradshaw, a workshop supervisor at the CSC, the 11 week rebuild process resulted in a drill that can work for another seven years; however there was one caveat in the rebuild process.
The machine had to be re-specced from a drill designed for a nickel mine into one that would be compliant with Queensland silver mine standards.
"The two mine sites have widely varying compliance requirements – both are rigorous, but both are very different," Bradshaw explained.
As a result of the rebuild the machine is "in as-new condition and is covered by a 12 month/1500 hour warranty".
Importantly "the silver mine it was rebuilt for is getting an updated, as-new development drill for around 70 per cent of the cost of a new machine," the company said.
"Following the rebuild, all service, parts, and safety bulletins, as well as machine upgrades, will have been completed so the finished product is as up-to-date as any machine can be – given it is a seven year old carrier and drill rig," Bradshaw stated.
"Throughout the process we liaised closely with the customer and the response back from them is that the durability and quality was built into these underground rigs from the beginning, so we already had that solid carrier and drilling module to work," he said.
Sandvik Mining' region Australia vice president Jim Tolley said this DD420 rebuild, and other of a similar scope being carried out, are an example of how the mining industry is driving more value out of its existing equipment, and their suppliers.
"Just a few years ago a drill rig of this age would probably have been retired and replaced with a new one," Tolley said.
"Now with miners looking to better 'sweat their assets' and get more out of them as part of an industry wide drive to reduce costs, options such as rebuilding older machines to as-new OEM-spec condition are becoming increasingly popular.
"But to do this, they require the combination of product durability, design, and reliability to justify the rebuild investment, and the ability of a supplier to bring equipment back up to as-new condition," he said.
This new focus on rebuilding and remanufacturing may help miners reinvigorate their older machinery, cutting costs and creating efficiencies.