May 17, 2020

How to improve business processes: A Sandvik story

mine sites
6 min
How to improve business processes: A Sandvik story
Applying business process improvement measures has played an important role in Sandviks Canning Vale Productivity Center in Perth successfully completin...

Applying business process improvement measures has played an important role in Sandvik’s Canning Vale Productivity Center in Perth successfully completing a highly complex rebuild of a DL420-10C production drill for gold producer La Mancha Resources Australia.

The rig, LH002, has been working at La Mancha’s Frogs Leg mine near Kalgoorlie, since October 2009, as the mine’s front line production drill in a long-hole stoping capacity.

Fitted with Sandvik ST58 drilling consumables, it predominantly bores 89 mm up-holes to a depth of ±25 meters. At times, it is also required for reaming to 200 mm in rock and 252 mm in paste.

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Since its initial delivery ­– operating around the clock – LH002 had logged approximately 9000 percussion hours, 14,000 power pack hours and 1000 engine hours.

According to Wayne Stewart, maintenance manager at Frogs Leg, over its life the rig’s drill module had been overhauled several times, but little work had been carried out on the carrier.

“We were encountering increased issues with hydraulics, hosing and electrical downtime which was affecting its productivity and increasing the unit cost,” he said.

Cost effective option

To overcome these issues, Sandvik proposed a rebuild option as a cost-effective alternative to purchasing a new machine, bringing LH002 back to as-new condition and complying with Sandvik OEM specifications.

“We were looking for the most economical solution to fit our long-term mine plans,” Stewart said.

“The main alternatives we considered were to stay ‘as is’, do a minor component overhaul, major overhaul or replacement.

“At roughly 60 percent of new price, the major overhaul was considered the most effective option available to us,” he said.

“Outside of increasing reliability and reducing unit cost, rebuilding supported other key criteria such as returning the drill functionality, electrics and hydraulics to original specifications and upgrading unsupported components.

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“Negotiating the rebuild between La Mancha and Sandvik was quite a long process,” Stewart said.

“Becoming comfortable that both parties had an aligned view of outcomes and expectations were an important aspect of the rebuild process, and one which Sandvik supported with capability information, historic data and just many hours turning expectation into specification.”

Complex program

Brett Kervin, Sandvik’s business improvement service manager at Canning Vale, said that a machine rebuild of this nature was “right up there” in terms of complexity, so it was of the utmost importance that its Canning Vale Productivity Center be set up to handle the project’s needs.

To ensure this, the Productivity Center implemented a number of business process improvement measures, applying Lean methodology principles and procedures to optimize the rebuild process.

“We took the opportunity to adjust the physical layout of our workshop in preparation for this rebuild – and subsequent rebuilds in the future,” said Kervin.

“An important message from our Lean methodology is that poorly organized workplaces leaves the potential for unsafe practices, unnecessary rework and longer repair cycle times, which can have a significant impact on costs and delivery schedules.

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“The ability to remain flexible is also a key component of repair work when dealing with the range and complexity of hard rock mining equipment our Perth Productivity Center is required to handle.”

Kervin said that while there is considerable variation in most equipment rebuilds, there were also opportunities to standardize the mandatory and non-negotiable elements of the rebuild processes, as reflected in the customer’s requirements.

“Through applying Lean thinking and concepts, coupled with workshop team brainstorming sessions, we were not only able to break the machine down into its usual high-level components, but we could also optimize our work breakdown structure and ensure the efficient and timely delivery of parts to the job.”

Dealing with the unexpected

These processes also ensured that the rebuild program – which took place between March and June 2015 – was able to deal with any unexpected issues quickly and effectively as they occurred.

“We had a few surprises along the way, but we were able to deal with these immediately through our implementation of a robust root cause analysis (RCA) process and the clear benefits of Sandvik’s OEM supply chain,” said Kervin.

“One example of a surprise we encountered was unforeseen damage found on the drill’s inner boom tube.

“This part of the boom assembly is effectively hidden, and during the quoting process was not factored in.

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“The lead time given to supply a replacement item meant we risked missing our delivery target, which caused a great deal of concern.

“However, upon contacting Sandvik’s Australian Product Support Manager, Harold Jonker, we were able to quickly locate a complete boom assembly that contained the inner boom tube we needed,” he said.

“Our parts division promptly shipped the assembly to us so we could proceed with the rebuild without losing any time.

“That was a fantastic example of how Sandvik’s Service, Parts and Product Support networks can leverage off each other in order to resolve problems – solutions that are not available to third-party providers,” said Kervin.

Visual Management application

Another integral part of Lean methodology is a process known as Visual Management (VM), which Sandvik continually strives to improve throughout its workshop operations.

“The more effective our VM processes, the less time we wasted through talking in meetings,” said Kervin.

“We were able to apply VM very successfully to this rebuild to improve safety, work quality and efficiency, and workflows.”

Some key ways in which VM helped Sandvik’s Canning Vale technicians during this rebuild process included:

• The ability to identify unsafe or abnormal conditions, ensuring all work was carried out safely

• The ability to apply the correct standards of repairs efficiently and according to plan

• Prioritizing work to ensure the workshop team followed the critical repair path, eliminating the risk of waiting and ensuring optimum work flow

• Ensuring the entire team knew the targets and tracking of progress through performance dialogues

• Ensuring a robust process of communication and feedback to all stakeholders

• An in-process control system, using “quality tollgates”, which has a direct bearing on the RCA (root cause analysis) process through early detection of potential defects or rework; this is a critical aspect of the rebuild with the aim of eliminating as many teething issues as possible through to the end-of-rebuild testing.

“Our RCA process forms an important input of our post-rebuild review,” said Kervin.

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“This, combined with our ongoing process improvement reviews during our rebuild, allows us to identify further improvements we can make to the parts supply chain and delivery of parts at a sub-job level.

“These allow us to find greater value for our customers, which will have a positive outcome in terms of both time and cost savings for future rebuild projects we carry out,” he said.

Clear communications

Frogs Leg Maintenance Manager Wayne Stewart said that once the project started, communications were “regular and transparent”.

“Weekly progress reports kept us abreast of any upcoming issues and risks, plus Sandvik’s plans to deal with them,” said Stewart.

“We carried out two inspections: one at roughly the rebuild mid-point and another two weeks prior to delivery.

“Importantly the rebuild was completed on time and budget.

“And given the comprehensive scope of the overhaul, the overall quality of the machine was excellent,” he said.

“There were some issues encountered while commissioning; however, these were dealt with in a timely manner.”

Stewart said that while it was still early days, and performance over time would be the ultimate decider, to date the rebuilt machine had performed to expectation.

“The commissioning support from Sandvik was equal to that which would be expected with a new machine – so great service.

“And follow up on issues has been timely and forthcoming,” he concluded.

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May 24, 2021

Codelco partners with Microsoft to extend digitisation

Microsoft Networks
2 min
Codelco, the world’s largest copper producer, has struck a deal with Microsoft to promote digitisation and automation at its copper mines across Chile

Chile's Codelco, the world's largest copper producer, has announced a deal with tech giant Microsoft to fast-track the digitisation of its sprawling mining operations, helping it extend automation and improve analytics.


The joint project with Microsoft will beef up the company's capacity to make its production processes more efficient and promote "sustainability" within its operations, Codelco said in a statement.

Codelco, like many Chilean miners, has fought in recent years to adopt new technologies to boost efficiency and keep down costs at its aging deposits, many of which suffer from declining ore grades.

"We are promoting profound changes so that different areas operate in a completely remote and automated way, reducing risks, improving productivity, safety and reliability of our operation," said company executive Alvaro Garcia.

Mining companies worldwide are pushing forward with plans to operate mines remotely, reducing the risk of accidents and boosting efficiency.


Codelco’s move towards automation however has led to confrontations with unions, who see it as a threat to their livelihoods. The company said the project with Microsoft will include a training component for the its workers.

The state-run miner has recently ramped up its use of technology to ensure its copper is 100% traceable, a vital step in reducing its carbon footprint and boosting sustainability within its operations.



Codelco’s CEO Octavio Araneda said that tracing copper through its mines would help the company more precisely measure progress on its social and environmental goals while providing proof to increasingly demanding customers of those efforts.

“We can now say that 100% of our products are traced…which will allow us to have a very strong transparency regarding our resource use footprint,” Araneda said.


The announcement comes amid a broader push by the company to reduce water consumption, recycle industrial waste and scale back carbon dioxide emissions by 2030.

Codelco said in a webinar that the tool it has developed to assure traceability will help assure those sustainability targets are met.

Soaring demand for electric vehicles, a key component in the global fight against climate change, has increased attention on the carbon footprint and sustainability of inputs such as copper, cobalt and lithium.

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