OEMS, Technology

Tyre time is money

Miners know it pays to be strategic when it comes to servicing their equipment, and haul truck tyres are no exception.

The humble mining tyre could be called the unsung hero of a mining operation.

No truck could run without them, and without trucks, no ore would be moved and the entire mining cycle would grind to a halt.

But like all pieces of equipment, mining tyres need regular maintenance to function well and this can mean removing them from operation, leading to the burden of unplanned downtime.

“Tyre service work is a maintenance activity, and it should be treated and optimised in the same way as any other maintenance activity on-site,” Kal Tire director of business insights Mark Goode said.

“Mining companies always have one eye on improving their operational efficiency, and tyre maintenance can be optimised relatively quickly and easily using the tools that are available today.”

One of these tools is the Tire and Operations Management System, or TOMS, from Kal Tire.

A maintenance planning system designed to power uptime, performance and safety, TOMS allows miners to make informed decisions on servicing their tyres, leading to an uptick in productivity and safety.

“Most tyre-related management systems are optimised to measure how long tyres last given the operating conditions,” Goode said.

“The introduction of TOMS in 2016 means that we can now tell mines how much it costs them in availability every year to service their tyres. That information is powerful in identifying opportunities for improvements.”

Scheduling tyre servicing with truck maintenance can increase productivity and safety.
Image: Kal Tire

While tyre maintenance, whether planned and unplanned, inevitably leads to some downtime, a strong tyre management strategy means mines can make the best of these events.

“The most important thing in tyre strategy is to choose one,” Goode said. “For some mines, tyre performance may be the priority, while for others, fleet productivity will be king.”

One way to minimise downtime when maintaining tyres, while also reducing safety hazards on-site, is to schedule servicing at the same time as other mechanical work on the truck.

“A site that’s bringing trucks down more often will be placing greater stress on its tyre crew than one that’s able to aggregate its service work and have fewer downtime events,” Goode said.

“Unplanned work could also mean that service crews must be dispatched into the pit. This places them at greater risk of harm and should be avoided wherever possible.”

Through aggregated and anonymised datasets from TOMS, Kal Tire has been able to work with several of its customers to prove how effective tyre service optimisation can be.

“When mines agree on a tyre management strategy, it’s important that they consider what success will look like,” Goode said. “They should determine whether they would like to maximise performance or productivity.

“Most operations want both, but that’s difficult to achieve.”

And while it’s not usually possible to maximise tyre performance and utilisation, Kal Tire and TOMS can help miners’ strike a suitable balance between the two, allowing them to meet their safety and financial goals.

“The ability to review the impact of a tyre service strategy on tyre performance and operational safety allows mines to quantify the impacts of their choices,” Goode said.

“There’s no right or wrong answer because, either way, the tools we have today ensure that once a decision is made, we can monitor and adjust the strategy to drive the most amount of value for each site, whatever the circumstances.”

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

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