Right first time

What ‘RFT’ means to Cummins’ master rebuild centres.

“Not another acronym” may be the typical reaction to RFT, but for Cummins’ two master rebuild centres (MRCs) in Australia, it’s a key metric in proving the quality of remanufactured high-horsepower engines.

RFT stands for ‘right first time’ and, according to this metric, the MRCs in Brisbane and Perth set the global quality standard for Cummins rebuild centres.

“Last year, we remanufactured close to 350 engines at our MRCs in Brisbane and Perth and 100 per cent of those engines completed the dynamometer test without any issues,” Cummins Asia Pacific manufacturing leader David Wheatley told Australian Mining.

“That was a massive achievement and a tribute to our operators, who take a lot of pride in their work.”

The two MRCs surpassed 2500 total rebuilds in 2023 after starting operations in 2008–09, and this year they are again ramping up production to meet increasing demand from mining customers.

“Reducing unscheduled downtime events for our high-horsepower engine customers is the driving force behind everything we do,” Wheatley said.

Quality engineers

The rebuild process is a 600-step procedure, covering everything from teardown to assembly.

The process adheres to the global Cummins manufacturing execution system, which provides specific electronic work instructions.

Cummins’ ‘right first time’ metric ensures its rebuild centres operate to the highest standard.
Image: Cummins

“Both of our MRCs have quality engineers who coordinate quality inspections at every phase of production  – checking bolt tensioning, routing of wiring harnesses, and so on – to ensure the RFT metric is front of mind,” Wheatley said.

“Any issue that’s detected, however minor, is investigated and corrective action taken before the engine moves on to the next production phase.”

Wheatley said the Australian MRCs achieve quality equal to, or better than, Cummins’ factory-built engines.

“Our remanufactured engines incorporate the latest and greatest product updates, so our customers are assured of receiving the best technology product available,” he said. “We also offer our high-horsepower-engine customers a much shorter lead time if they’re acquiring a remanufactured engine versus a new engine.”

A strategic support bank of remanufactured engines also allows Cummins to respond quickly to any unscheduled event requiring replacement of a customer’s engine. The engines range from Tier 1 to the latest Tier 4 emissions specifications.

Major upgrade project

A key project currently underway at the Brisbane MRC – the first time it has been performed outside the US – involves upgrading of a fleet of 3500hp QSK78 engines with Cummins’ latest fuel system technology.

The upgrade sees Cummins’ early-generation high-pressure unit injection system on the 78L V18 powerhouse replaced with the high-pressure modular common rail system to achieve significantly reduced greenhouse gas and diesel particulate emissions.

The same fuel system upgrade has been carried out at both MRCs on the industry’s biggest selling mining engine, the QSK60, since 2015.

Capable of remanufacturing over 300 engines annually, the Brisbane MRC was upgraded in 2023 to incorporate four electric rollover stands, multiple production lines, numerous overhead cranes, and specialised lifting equipment.

Improved ergonomics for worker safety and ease-of-operation were an important part of the upgrades, while two new 4500hp dynamometers were also installed.

The same major upgrade program is now being undertaken at the Perth MRC.

With a proven metric for excellence under its belt, Cummins is setting a new standard for MRCs across the globe.

This feature appeared in the March 2024 issue of Australian Mining.

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