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Mining & Resources

The unheralded and forgotten role tyres play in mining operations

29 Apr 2015, by Informa Insights

Adam Gosling, Director of TyreSafe Australia, is always surprised that many people fail to consider the costs of operating tyres on commercial fleets and that there are probably more who don’t consider their own safety as being a thing to value ( Adam is an advocate of using tyre pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) to optimise safety and maximise return-on-investment on tyres.

Adam & Tyresafe Australia coined (and copyrighted) the phrase “if they’re not turning they’re not earning” and that most certainly rings true in relation to tyre performance. We had the pleasure of asking him a few questions in the lead up to his presentation at the OTR Tyre Safety & Maintenance Seminar to be held this June.

Adam Gosling, Tyresafe Australia
Adam Gosling, TyreSafe Australia

You are actively involved with Informa’s Off-the-Road (OTR) Tyre Safety & Maintenance Seminar coming up at the end of June. This event has been designed for resources industry participants to address the critical importance of OTR tyre management in their operations. Could you give us some insights into the topics that will be discussed?

This event is centred on increasing awareness of OTR tyres and tyres in general. Tyres are one of the major cost centres in truck and shovel operations. A major mining operation declared OTR tyre servicing to be one of the most hazardous occupations on a mine site, yet tyres are largely ignored. Continued improvements within the industry have created a safe working environment for tyre service personnel but incidents continue to occur – the question is why.

We have some excellent presentations in this seminar: what has been done, where the industry is going, the risks involved, with sessions from industry experts. We will also look at the physical aspect of maintaining giant tyres, its arduous work with little relief from the heavy lifting. Maintenance of tyres is one aspect, and successful repairs is another, which relies upon inspection and techniques.

Operations also influence tyre performance, which will lead us to explore how advances can be made in this arena. Perhaps one of the hottest topics is that of training of tyre service personnel. With fatalities and injuries still occurring, the questions of what is being done to improve the training qualifications and how appropriate training can instil safety as the prime concern for tyre service personnel still need to be addressed. With the giant tyres being over 4 metres in diameter, weighing in excess of 7 tonnes, and having sufficient contained energy to blast a person for kilometres, you only get one chance.

In your experience, what importance do tyres play in a truck and shovel mining operation?

This is quite easy to answer: without tyres, trucks don’t move. Many production people want to move more tonnes but if this quest drives tyre costs up, then the actual net profit made may be reduced. ‘Mine for profit not for tonnes’ is the rule. We’ve found that by holistically improving tyre performance production increases. As the TyreSafe Australia mantra goes: “if they’re not turning they’re not earning©”. By improving tyre maintenance regimes, haul roads, driver habits, loading techniques trucks are going to be moving more, hence more tonnes production. It’s not rocket science, just basic principle and discipline.

By inspecting the scrap tyre heap I can determine the philosophy of the production and the maintenance departments without setting foot in the actual mine itself. Tyres are like mirrors, they tell all without colouring the story. Ignore tyres at your own peril, tyres are messengers that convey critically important information for a mining operation.

Could you tell us about Tyre Safe Australia and your work with the industry? What are the main challenges for mines in the current environment?

In these times of reduced incomes and reduced demand there are only a few means of reducing costs. With tyre operating costs being, more often than not, second only to fuel, there is a huge scope for savings. In my view, the biggest concern is that few people in financial management understand tyres. Tyres cannot be treated as a consumable, they must be treated as an investment. If the mine received only 600 ml of every litre of fuel delivered, there would be hell to pay yet many sites accept they will use only 60% of the tread available and think this is acceptable, why?

Tyres must be viewed as an investment. How can we extract the maximum performance from this asset? What can we do to achieve improved tread consumption rates? Modern mining has big data available to determine how this can be done but on too many sites tyres are just another hassle, no one pays attention until they have gone flat and it seems to be always the tyre’s fault.

How can the tyre do anything to protect itself? We change air filters on engines every day, carry out regular services and oil changes and kick tyres once a week. In the life of an engine, more will be spent on tyres than it costs to rebuild the engine.

How we maximise the return on investment (RoI) made in tyres is a main challenge for economists. A holistic program has to be introduced and this is where TyreSafe Australia offers its services. As a quarry manager I understand the requirements behind production and as a tyre man I know what is required to maximise the RoI. Advances can be made if the two perspectives are considered together.

You will be chairing and speaking at the seminar, what kind of discussions would you like to have with industry peers at the conference? What are 3 key takeaways your industry peers can expect?

Some of the key getaways attendees can expect are:

  1. OTR tyre safety, qualification and training: we will discuss what education is required to train people to a level commensurate with the risks involved. Very few other situations on a mine site have the extreme consequences that tyre service has.
  2. A holistic approach is required: tyres cannot be viewed in isolation as a consumable, they are an integral part of the operation. Maintenance and service are only one aspect of the big picture. “If they’re not turning they’re not earning©” is a mantra to be remembered by all personnel on site.
  3. Information sharing and collaboration: this event offers opportunities to cross-fertilise current concepts, to propagate new approaches to old problems and to learn from industry colleagues; experiences will all be up for grabs during the sessions and round table discussions. Information exchange and networking will be enabled to make the subtle but large advances required in today’s harsh economic climate. I believe that no other area on most mine sites offer the same opportunities for improvement as tyres do.
Adam will be speaking at the OTR Tyre Safety & Maintenance Seminar to be held on the 24-25 June 2015 in Brisbane.
Adam will be speaking at the OTR Tyre Safety & Maintenance Seminar to be held on the 24-25 June 2015 in Brisbane.

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