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February 23, 2016
When business slows down, drilling contractors may have to lay-up some of their equipment. But when things pick up again, the equipment may no longer be “fit and ready” to take on new assignments. Here’s the best way to find out.
Mining contractor Small Mine Development of Battle Mountain, Nevada, USA, prefers to hold on to its drilling equipment rather than sell it when business is slow. This way, the company does not have to source new rigs when the work suddenly returns.
In this respect, SMD is typical of many similar companies around the world. As Mike Schomer, SMD’s Maintenance Superintendent, puts it: “You can’t bid for jobs with equipment you don’t have.”
Two of the company’s Atlas Copco Boltec rock bolting rigs are a case in point. They had recently been standing idle on the surface, one of them for almost two years, after working 24/7 underground.
But what repairs and maintenance did these rigs need at the time they were sidelined? How far had their performance fallen in relation to the manufacturer’s specification? And what had exposure to the Nevada summer sun and a severe winter done to their hoses, electrical components, mandatory safety labels
“If we had invested in bringing the rigs back to specification right away,” explains Schomer, “we would have allotted a good portion of our capital indefinitely to idle inventory. But we knew the industry would pick up again, so we were looking for the fastest way to get the rigs back into service condition as soon as potential new contracts appeared again.”
The solution was a thorough audit of the rigs using RigScan technology. Schomer says: “The RigScan audit helps us get assets we already own to go back into service so much faster than waiting on a new rig delivery or sourcing a different one for remanufacture.”
The audit was carried out by the Atlas Copco facility in Elko where Matt Roemmich, Underground Product Support Technician, explains: “The audit gives the customer a thorough OEM inspection. It identifies everything and will label each item as a critical safety or performance issue or a regulatory concern, all the way down to cosmetic items.
That helps the customer prioritize what they want done and create an exact budget for the project.” Schomer was so impressed with the first inspection that he ordered a second RigScan audit to be conducted in the SMD yard. The inspection is only the first step of an audit. Roemmich says: “I take that rig-specific inspection list back to the office to match failed items against the rig’s parts manual. Some just require an adjustment, others require replacement parts or service kits. I’ll try to find economical choices for the customer to look at in addition to new parts from the Atlas Copco exchange program, for example.
“The customer can get a RigScan discount if they buy parts from us or contract us to do the labor, but they have the part number and can source the parts themselves if they choose.”
The RigScan audit for SMD’s second Boltec, a 2007 model, consisted of 251 inspection points. Schomer said. “My service staff is busy. To do an inspection as thoroughly as Atlas Copco’s technician did I would have had to pull my staff off other duties to comb that rig for days. Then we’d have to research part numbers and source them. Although I’m confident they would have caught many of those same critical issues, they couldn’t have gotten them all.”
Roemmich explained why even the best technicians won’t catch every point. “SMD’s technicians are great at what they do, but most of their day-in/ day-out attention is on performance,” he says. “They keep those rigs working. SMD’s technicians would definitely have caught a lot of these items. But would they know that a mandated safety label or informational label was missing? If a rig has to be taken out of service until a label is replaced, that’s unscheduled downtime.”
“Schomer adds: “If you ask me what the financial incentive is for doing this it’s that I can establish a precise budget. Obviously, I want all the critical safety and important performance issues done.”
“But I can choose which items to address in addition to those and stay within a budget that we set.” Roemmich has performed RigScan audits for Boltec rigs, Boomer face drilling rigs, Minetruck haulers and Scooptram LHDs. He concludes: “I see great benefit for mines and contractors that periodically schedule RigScan audits. RigScan is basically a great tool that helps to support the product from cradle to grave.”