Industry News

Improving whole life cycle asset management

Today?s industrial operations are being carried out against an international backdrop of increasingly tight budgets and market demand to operate in the most efficient and productive manner. The mining, construction and quarrying industries are facing multiple challenges in maintaining equipment for day to day operations while looking to the latest technology to meet both environmental regulations and provide a competitive edge.

Bringing in an asset management partner is a proven means of consolidating these efforts into a single, strategic operation that can produce measurable commercial benefits. Innovative partnership models that bring greater control to the customer are redefining the traditional perception of outsourcing. This is where Babcock, an international engineering support services company, is leading by example.

In previous issues of Quarry, we have outlined how ALCAMiE, Babcock?s unique approach to managing large and complex fleets of equipment, is transforming global fleet management. In this article, we will look beyond the management models towards the innovative ways Babcock is helping to upgrade or overhaul equipment to raise productivity and drive down cost.


An effective asset management service starts long before any new equipment appears on-site. The first stage of a new partnership is to formalise the asset review process and provide the rationale for all future purchasing decisions. Some customers are concerned about losing their relationships with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM), so Babcock ensures that this process and any procurement is carried out in partnership with the customer.

{{image2-A:R-w:200-c:}} Historically, many businesses have managed asset procurement on an individual site basis, with repairs and new equipment ordered on an ad hoc basis. This approach works to meet immediate and short term needs but Babcock recommends a
joined-up procurement approach across the business to leverage the buying power of both parties and increase productivity in the long run.

Babcock works in partnership with its customers to understand the production volume cycles, the annual tonnage forecast, and which equipment is in use, thus enabling planning for the next 12 months. Everything is considered, from forecasting scheduled maintenance to identifying which equipment is reaching its optimum refurbishment point and is due for an overhaul or even replacement.

By consolidating procurement processes, assets can be purchased in bulk to leverage the capital cost, specification and
warranty conditions. Similarly, when a significant number of orders are placed for the coming year, it allows OEMs to forward plan their manufacturing schedules, smoothing production flows and reducing costs which provide opportunity for additional discounts to be offered.

A key part of Babcock?s asset review process involves jointly meeting with the OEMs to review the performance of their existing equipment together with the whole life operational cost. ALCAMiE is key to this as it provides a range of performance statistics, including the proportion of scheduled maintenance time and downtime by asset category and manufacturer. In Babcock?s experience, progressive manufacturers are keen to understand the rationale driving customers to purchase the right equipment – using the information to drive innovation in their sales and manufacturing processes.

Babcock sits between its customers and OEMs in procurement negotiations to ensure continuity of costs and improved terms. Babcock?s transparent and independent approach towards the asset review process provides a critical advantage to its customers as Babcock is not tied to one brand, product or dealer organisation, and its recommendations are therefore both impartial and trusted. Babcock also works with many suppliers on a global basis to build win-win supplier partnerships that ensure service levels are agreed and rates are agreed with appropriate payment terms. Suppliers who perform are rewarded with increased business volumes.

{{image3-A:L-w:200-c:}} While innovative technology systems are integral tools to maximising equipment use and driving productivity, they are only part of the answer. Babcock?s holistic asset management process begins with its unique Fleet Selection Protocol (FSP). This is designed to flag the key decisions that need to be made when selecting equipment, taking a straightforward approach towards the processes, activities and process outputs that influence or are impacted by fleet selection. Babcock?s aim is to create value for its customers and even straightforward innovations like the FSP can help make a difference and streamline costs.


Once the asset review process has been completed, focus turns to how the equipment is operated and managed on the ground
to maximise productivity. Australia is now one of the most expensive places in the world to develop a mine. Knowledge of best practice in asset management can eliminate unnecessary repair or maintenance costs, delivering long term savings across the year.

This is one of Babcock?s key strengths. The company has a vast amount of experience in managing complex combinations of assets in critical environments, from the nuclear sector to emergency services and has used this to develop ALCAMiE, a customised ?toolbox? of asset management systems and processes that enable assets to be cost-effectively managed throughout their life.

ALCAMiE recognises the criticality of equipment such as what equipment will bring a quarry to a grinding halt if it breaks down, as opposed to other equipment whose function, while important, can be easily replicated by other machinery. By segmenting equipment according to its criticality, ALCAMiE reprioritises what needs to be done first to ensure that equipment is available, when and where it is needed.

Through ALCAMiE, customers benefit from increased asset availability, savings of up to 20 per cent, reduced costs and processing, and transference of risk. The centralised running of contracts means that customers get a holistic view of their entire fleet through a secure web enabled application, rather than using traditional accounting tools.

Effective asset management is more than just replacing old equipment and buying new kit. Babcock?s methodology is to extract the maximum value out of an asset but not to take the asset beyond what is acceptable for optimum performance. The company helps customers to fully appreciate that extending the lives of existing assets can be as important as replacing them.

Every asset reaches a point in its life cycle when reliability diminishes and an insightful financial and technical decision has to be made to either repair, rebuild or replace the asset ? what Babcock calls the ?3 x Rs?. The company recognises that in certain cases it may not be viable to repair or rebuild an asset – and therefore a replacement would be more appropriate as a result. However, where viable and in the customer?s best interests, Babcock will always look to rebuild equipment to deliver a prolonged operational lifespan.

A piece of large, mobile equipment is designed and built to operate for an optimal life in excess of 30,000 hours, subject to size and operational environment. Babcock?s view is that performing certain interventions at the right time, usually around 16,000 hours, can ensure the asset will operate effectively for the rest of its optimal life. Typically a rebuild includes reworking of the equipment power train, hydraulic and electric systems that support the machine. The key is to carry out comprehensive condition monitoring (to include oils and fluid analysis) on all machines to ensure that major unit failures are foreseen and prevented from occurring. Unplanned failures not only disrupt the operation but can double the rectification cost base.


{{image4-A:R-w:200-c:}} Critical for customers and their operations is a balanced strategy in identifying when to rebuild versus buying new equipment and take advantage of the latest advances that can bring. When the time does arrive for a piece of equipment to be replaced, Babcock guides customers through the procurement process to identify the right equipment for them to drive productivity and improve overall running costs. To date, for example, Babcock has procured over 65 assets for Lafarge with a combined value of more than $45 million, built with the latest technology to drive down fuel consumption, maintenance costs, and meet the latest health, safety and environmental regulations. However, over the same time, Babcock has arranged for some 133 pieces of equipment to be rebuilt ? where it has made clear economic sense to do so.

Babcock is working to combine varying OEM telematic data platforms into a single dashboard within ALCAMiE to deliver consolidated quality that can help drive quicker and better strategic decisions. The consolidated information reveals a wealth of key data including the amount of fuel being consumed (fuel burn), location, system faults, driver behaviour and engine idling time. This data provides valuable insight as to what proactive or preventative repairs or maintenance is necessary to maximise equipment efficiency and increase productivity. The key is to display selected meaningful information that drives behaviour, rather than overwhelming people with data that is both difficult to analyse and subsequently ignored.

Babcock follows best practice and uses proven metrics to measure and communicate performance. Mean times between stoppages and mean time to repair are monitored meticulously, communicated transparently and used to drive the necessary behaviour within the team.


Babcock is committed to adding value and expanding its depth and breadth of asset management by integrating site assessment into its service offering and has brought in additional experts to help it succeed. For example, Derek Maughan has recently joined the team as Babcock?s international product application manager, bringing invaluable OEM and customer experience.

Derek offers mine site and quarry application assessments for clients, providing an unbiased review of the existing operations, pit and haul road design as well as site infrastructure. He will also help to extend Babcock?s expertise beyond maintenance management into assessing the physical environment that equipment operates in and determining the effect this has on the life cycle of machinery. Through this assessment, Babcock can make even more accurate recommendations about the right equipment to suit varying environments and what will operate more productively and where. ?

Source: Babcock International

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