PS: You made your transition in early 2018. What were some of the easiest aspects of the change? What surprised you along the way?
MM: Moving to my new position as a reliability technician at Teck Pend Oreille Operations, there were several predictive maintenance instruments that were different from the ones I was familiar with. Fortunately, with help from the manufacturers and suppliers including some onsite visits by their experts, I was able to figure out the differences fairly quickly and start putting them to use. Likewise, thanks to all the site tours and help from the various tradespeople on our team, it didn’t take me long to find out where all the surface and underground equipment that I’m responsible for was located.
A big surprise for me was the safety culture at Teck. Everyone made sure I had all the proper training. Teck also has a daily 7:00 a.m. safety meeting which I find very helpful. We bring everyone from maintenance, operations, administration, and management together to discuss the day’s activities, provide safety shares and company updates.
PS: Tell us about your new company—what attracted you to mining?
MM: I decided to switch from the food industry to the mining industry to broaden my horizons and sharpen my predictive technology skills.
Teck is a diversified resource company committed to responsible mining and mineral development. Teck owns or has interest in 12 mines in Canada, the USA, Chile, and Peru which includes Pend Oreille Operations in Washington state where I work. Our operation is totally committed to condition monitoring as we focus on looking for potential failures before they happen. This enhances efficiency as we plan and schedule repairs, which is much more effective and efficient compared to scrambling in run-to-fail mode.
PS: How is your new position different than your previous position? What new responsibilities do you have?
MM: In my new position I am primarily focused on condition monitoring using technologies such as vibration analysis, airborne ultrasound, thermography, and the collection of oil samples. I have also been writing reports, communicating issues, and helping the planners build shutdown and repair plans for imminent failures so all the parts are here and ready before the failure happens. When you put everything together I can gather, assess, trend and track equipment condition better than I previously could, and then easily communicate a repair strategy to all the key individuals.
PS: Tell us about the first big win (using predictive maintenance to identify the under-lubricated / misaligned bearings)—did it save downtime, either planned or unplanned? Is it enabling to expand the PdM program?
MM: Our main underground hoist was in failure mode due to bearing and alignment issues. During one of my first efforts at vibration analysis on the hoist I was able to identify the failing bearing. Catching this imminent failure early allowed us to quickly plan and schedule the repair. If this bearing had failed unexpectedly we would have incurred approximately four days of unscheduled production downtime.
The predictive maintenance program continues to expand as everyone sees the positive results and appreciates the value of scheduling downtime versus running equipment to failure.