More than just machines

The mining industry is changing, and OEMs and suppliers are changing with it.

It is no longer enough to simply sell miners a large piece of equipment, you have to work with them to give them the support they need after it has been bought to ensure the machines are used as effectively as possible.

Sandvik has taken on this new way of doing business, expanding their offerings and aftermarket support to help miners achieve more.

During a recent visit to the group’s Paget facility, outside of Mackay, during QME, they explained to Australian Mining how the company remains agile in the downturn, and how it expands its capabilities to increase customer support

One of the innovative ways Sandvik is working with its coalfields customers is by providing them with the capability of upgrading their existing fleet to get more tonnages, without the major capital spend typically needed to add this extra capacity.

“What we’ve done is work with the customers during their rebuilds, offering to upgrade their ten tonne EDT LS 190 loaders, reworking the body, providing new axles, that lets them get an extra two tonnes per load,” Sandvik said.

“We’ve made the machines lighter with the same compact footprint, but with more brute power and increased stability.

“Importantly, there are no additional costs for the upgrades as it is an optional part of the rebuild program.”

The company went on to say “it saves money in one sense as saves them from having to hire machines to increase capacity, as now they can improve their fleet, but still own it”.

Although it is the first time Sandvik have carried out this process, the group is confident it will be popular moving forward, and have already worked on risk assessments and getting cross-border compliance for the upgraded machines.

While at the facility, we were introduced to the 128 tonne D90 – one of the largest drills in Australia – which was in the workshop for its ‘midlife’ service.

“It’s coming in for new wiring, hydraulics, and an engine overhaul,” Sandvik said.

One of the most impressive aspects of the rebuild was the fact it was driven into the workshop in the first place, Sandvik explaining the driver managed to tram it in with a gap of only 200 millimetres either side.

Although the monster drill took up the majority of the main workshop floor (with components spreading out into the second, nearby workshop), the site still had different models of underground and surface machinery in for repairs and rebuilds at the facility.

One of the major focuses for the company was rebuilding the machines with lower diesel particulate matter emissions to make underground mining slightly safer, as well as increasing the efficiency of the vehicles, all to the highest national standards.

The site also stands out as it is only one of two facilities in the region with 1000 volt capacity, making it easier to work with and repair tethered underground vehicles.

During the tour, Australian Mining noticed a number of non-Sandvik vehicles, which were discontinued units from other brands that were being rebuilt and upgraded with Sandvik components.

It was also working with one major coal miner by not only providing the equipment, but also offering training. Sandvik had a rapid face bolter, and was providing simulated training on the surface at the facility, with those trained later teaching others on site how to use the machinery effectively – essentially fast tracking the machine’s usage and operator familiarity.

Part of this was providing a unique spare parts service, with a fully contained rig bolter repair box, that had all the spare parts, as well as tools, operators would need underground.

“It’s not just about selling machines, it’s about giving the miners greater support and aftermarket service, and being agile for the customers,” Sandvik explained.

This agility was typified in the warehouse, which not only saw itself a rapid response service, but also a quality gate, quickly crosschecking equipment quality before it went to field to ensure it can perform as it should.

“We’re a warehouse with a customer focus,” Sandvik said, “we work as a quality gate.”

“It’s about quality assurance in parts selling, and working with people on site to ensure that quality.”

“We keep spare parts for every machine sold, so when something happens out in the field – even at 2am, we can get someone in the warehouse quickly as we are on call, and have the part ready and sent out within 24 hours.”

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