Having a close relationship with the late former PDS director, Peter McCurdy, it is on slightly bittersweet terms that Peter Thorpe takes on the role of PDS general manager. He is however excited to continue a vision to grow the company in 2020.
Peter Thorpe fondly remembers Peter McCurdy trying to get him to join the PDS team for many years before he took up the role in October 2019 after the tragic passing of McCurdy earlier that year.
“I’d been keeping in contact with (McCurdy) and the business over the last two years,” Thorpe tells Australian Mining. “He’d been trying to get me onboard for many years.”
After McCurdy passed away, Thorpe stayed close to the business, offering his condolences to McCurdy’s family and giving advice and assistance where possible to the PDS staff.
Later in the year, Thorpe felt the time was right to follow his friend’s legacy and join the Newcastle-based condition monitoring business.
Thorpe brings with him a diverse background, having spent 15 years in the Royal Australian Air Force, in aircraft and maintenance engineering, before finishing up in the non-destructive inspection area.
Following his time in the Air Force, Thorpe moved into the petrochemical industry, working in non-destructive testing, as well as the oil and gas sector.
From there, Thorpe found his new home in mining, where he used his non-destructive testing skills gained during his time in aviation and petrochemical work.
“In 2004, I started my own business with three partners, which was sold to Fenner Dunlop in 2007,” he says.
Thorpe then had a three-and-a-half-year stint at conveyor belt splicing equipment specialist Shaw Almex, before being recruited by materials handling business ESS Engineering.
Two years on and Thorpe is taking on another career change, picking up PDS where McCurdy left off and heading into the new decade with an innovative vision.
Data integration, automated monitoring and growing its assets within the mining industry are all on the horizon for PDS in 2020.
“PDS prides itself on being at the forefront of preventative maintenance,” Thorpe says.
“If you’re doing preventative maintenance you have less unscheduled failures, which can cause both personal and property risk.
“By automating the process you’re removing some of those risks to personnel as well as their business.”
PDS is reaching the first release stage for supplier integration for preventative maintenance inspections, which can assist to monitor information from integral components on an asset.
“PDS Planned Inspections provides accountability and quality assurance for installations and inspections, it provides a high-level standardised process,” Thorpe explains.
“Once you’ve got our processes in place, inspections are clearly spelt out and can be carried out by (almost) anyone, so our software provides the foundation to completing higher level inspections with less intrusions on production.”
Thorpe also aims to automate the process of monitoring wear, making it easier to analyse internal mechanisms of machinery such as conveyor belts, crushers and grinders, drawing from data to assess life.
“We’re working with several of our customers to interface their processes,” Thorpe says.
“There are quite a number of projects on the go moving into next year, it’s all very exciting, because you’re able to do higher level, real-time inspections.”
While Thorpe is drawing on his diverse personal experience, he is grateful to the team at PDS for their hard work in keeping the business going after McCurdy’s passing.
“Credit should be given to all of the PDS employees for stepping up after Peter McCurdy passed away, they all deserve a big pat on the back,” Thorpe says.
Now PDS is back to business as usual with a new leader at its helm, Thorpe is looking forward to continuing to develop systems and techniques to stay at the forefront of the industry.
“Like any software company, we’re always upgrading to keep up with environmental changes to iOS, Android and Web interfaces,” Thorpe continues.
“They upgrade and change product elements all the time and that’s what we need to do for our key customers too.
“We want to be the standard in asset management and are forging ahead as a leader in this field, continuing the legacy Peter McCurdy dreamt of.”
This article also appears in the February edition of Australian Mining.