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What happens leading up to and during a planned shutdown?

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Global Mining Review,

A mine site’s success is not only defined by the quality or amount of material it processes but importantly its ability to function like a well-oiled machine. Relying on a network of complex processing equipment and components, a sound maintenance schedule is crucial for optimum safety, reliability and productivity.

What happens leading up to and during a planned shutdown?

Mine sites periodically hold planned shutdowns to perform necessary maintenance works. Every hour that a plant is idle costs operators thousands of dollars in potential revenue. Therefore, it is important that the stoppage is meticulously planned for maximum safety, minimum disruption and to decrease the risk of unplanned downtime if machinery is not properly maintained.

Weir Minerals recently went behind the scenes with the company’s Area Manager for South Australia, Jason Gloyn, to see what happens leading up to and during a planned shutdown.

What happens?

Shutdowns are planned months or even a year in advance, when customers supply Weir Minerals with details of their planned shutdowns so both parties have ample time to prepare. When determining how to approach a shutdown, Gloyn consults an extensive set of data outlining important information about the site’s equipment so he can provide the customer with as much information as possible, including when the equipment was serviced and what parts were supplied in the past.

Other essential data includes equipment model, functional location and serial number. When determining spare parts required for the maintenance cycle, Gloyn and his team will also ascertain whether the customer has any stored onsite or if they will have to be ordered. Alternatively, some items are repairable and can be changed out at any time. It is necessary to record when equipment parts are changed out in order to track component wear life and estimate how long a new part will last.

Based on the above data, Gloyn then writes a recommendation for what work should be performed and parts replaced during the upcoming shutdown.

In the weeks approaching the shutdown, requested works must be planned in accordance with the timeframe the customer has allocated. A typical shutdown schedule is two 12 hour blocks over two day shifts.

Important discussions between Jason and the customer take place around isolation, crane and clean-up requirements as well as exclusion zones. These are critical considerations to ensure maintenance teams have enough space to safely perform their work. As different teams maintaining various pieces of equipment throughout the plant may crowd each other, Gloyn will work with the customer to ensure everyone will have the space they need to operate safely.

Following the initial planning stage, Gloyn starts assembling a team. Numbers are determined by the work being performed and the trades that are required. It is necessary for the credentials of the maintenance team to be supplied to the customer ahead of time, so this phase requires a substantial amount of organisation.

Once finalised, Gloyn visits the site a week prior to determine what required items are already onsite. If parts are unavailable, Weir Minerals’ network of warehouses around Australia will ensure the stock is delivered on time.

Once onsite, it is time for the crew to get their hands dirty. For Gloyn’s team, most of the work involves maintaining Warman® pumps. Compared to the planning stage, pump maintenance is relatively straightforward and performed with ease. This is due to the combination of skilled personnel and the design of the products with ease-of-maintenance as a key criterion. Maintenance on this equipment is usually performed in situ, however Weir Minerals is flexible and will work with customers to determine the best maintenance strategy to meet their needs. This means certain pumps can also be maintained using the back pull-out, keyed base or clam shell change-out methods. While performing maintenance, Gloyn’s team gathers critical operating data for the customer report and to aid planning for the next scheduled shutdown.

Throughout the entire maintenance process, planning and clear communication is key to success.

“You can have all the people and equipment at the ready but if you don’t plan properly, things can become derailed, quickly. We are always in contact with site personnel leading into a shutdown; this in-depth interaction and planning strengthens our relationship and makes them confident they can trust us with their equipment”, states Gloyn.

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