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Constraints in Mining Production

Discuss about the Mining for Lean Maintenance Repair and Overhaul. 
 

The ultimate goal of mining companies is to generate profits from the entire mineral production activities. However, these companies are faced with several limitations in the production process that inhibit acquisitions. The constraints faced in mining process comprise of bottlenecks that limit the productivity of the mining activities. The mining process is in a form of a complex system made up of multiple activities linked together.  By using the Theory of Constraints, bottlenecks are grouped at various stages of the mining process which limit the entire system. Substantially, constraints in mineral production activities consist of physical, policy and marketing constraints. Therefore, by identifying the major constraints in the productions process, companies are able to attain the set goals in their mining activities. In most cases, a mining production system usually has one constraint although other constraints may exist.

In the case of XYZ limited, the main constraint affecting the company’s production process is the unpredictability in economic cycles (Dunbar, 2012). The company is hugely affected by high operational costs in the production process in terms of extraction methods and type of equipment applied. Operational costs in the production of copper are also influenced by the labor and energy used in the whole process. Essentially, the production process of the company is, therefore, influenced by unpredictability in fixed and variable costs. Due to stiff competition and inconsistency in economic volatility, the production process is extremely constrained since customers have optional markets for mineral products. Therefore, the company is forced to reduce review the production process to avoid selling products at a risky price. 

Management of assets and maintenance practices is essential in preventing extra costs that may be used in repairing or replacing the equipment used in production activities (Dunbar, 2012). Since companies are faced with economic constraints, failure to carry out proper maintenance on the machines will lead to vast expenditure with little income thus increasing the financial problems. Most equipment used in the mineral production process are subject to wear and tear. Therefore, maintenance and management of the assets aid in minimizing chances of equipment failure, which might lead to high operating costs in the companies. Significantly, maintenance is critical in reducing the rate at which the equipment fail in the production process. As a result, production of minerals will greatly improve thereby increasing the production of minerals.

The Role of Maintenance Strategies in Mining Production

The goal of maintenance section in mining production is to save on the company's operational costs and improve the productivity of the firm (Dunbar, 2012). Mining activities involve large equipment in the production process. Thus, the productivity of the mining companies is highly dependent on the uptime of the equipment. Maintenance aims at improving the uptime of the equipment thus maximizing the purpose of such mining tools. Maintenance in production section also improves the safety and health of workers and the environmental protection. In this aspect, the purpose of routine maintenance is to meet the statutory requirements of the mining industry. Operational costs of the company in the production process are greatly controlled through effective maintenance strategies. This helps in preventing costs of replacing the equipment in case of wear and tear.

The goal tree for the company’s maintenance section is shown below

 

The purpose of maintenance is not clearly defined due to lack of quantification information on a maintenance plan. The management is not in a position to justify the types of materials, resources, and parts to focus on in the maintenance plan (Dunbar, 2012). Consequently, the metrics of the maintenance section are not clearly defined to enable a continuous improvement plan. Accordingly, the initiatives of the maintenance plans are based on fixed data, therefore, maintenance functions are overwhelmed. Moreover, the goal of maintenance is not clear because of complaints raised by inspection teams on the failure of proper maintenance schedules.

In order to achieve the goals of maintenance in mining companies, key conditions need to be set up so that the whole process is successful. The first and critical condition is having a proper schedule of the maintenance tasks and the time standards to be followed (Dunbar, 2012). For instance, the maintenance tasks can be scheduled on daily or weekly basis and the magnitude of the activities. Another condition is to set the maintenance data and standards to be followed in the process. In addition, it is essential for the maintenance to record and preserve data on the inspections performed. This condition is important in ensuring maintenance tasks are based on data gathered so that the safety of the equipment can be guaranteed. Furthermore, it is vital for maintenance to consider the age and value of equipment when carrying out maintenance tasks. This condition helps the company to avoid spending on equipment that is wearied out.

Challenges in Maintenance Planning and Management

The maintenance conditions are defined as a minimum mandatory level with the aim of affecting the performance of the equipment. Detailed work schedule is prepared by the firms to monitor the equipment failures. Conditions for prediction of equipment failures are planned for by training the inspection teams. However, some conditions are not defined on mandatory basis because records are not maintained on the maintenance tasks.

The current reality tree graphically presents the underlying problems and undesirable effects that arise from the maintenance activities in the mining companies (Gilbert & MR Bowers, 2014). Essentially, the diagram will map the cause and effects in relation to the core problem of the company’s maintenance strategies.  Accordingly, the aim of using the current reality tree is to determine the constraints that prevent the company from attaining its goals, particularly the maintenance purposes. In the current reality tree diagram, the major causes of the constraints can be established and used to eliminate the undesired effects of the production process.

Undesirable effects are the negative symptoms that affect the company’s performance in attaining its goals (Gilbert & MR Bowers, 2014). Maintenance of the mining company equipment is faced with several issues that limit the success of the activities. By using the current reality tree developed, it is evident that the company faces 18 undesirable effects in the maintenance plan. These undesirable effects are the major problem to the company’s attainment of maintenance goals established. Problem the core problems in the current reality tree diagram, then the undesirable effects will occur. Therefore, by eliminating the causal effects on the current reality tree, the company can be able to eliminate the resultant effects. Accordingly, elimination of the core problems can abundantly affect the company’s success in achieving the purpose of maintenance plans.

From the current reality diagram, the root cause of the maintenance problems is the management in the company. The management has failed in the recruitment of qualified maintenance staff and in its maintenance strategies. Due to the root cause of the poor management exhibited, maintenance standards, maintenance planning, and equipment management lead to the safety risks, unnecessary expenditures and repetitive failures of the production equipment. Therefore, removing the core problem will effectively enable the company to attain the maintenance goals as well as attaining profits in the overall business activities.

A conflict resolution cloud is a logical tool used in solving the dilemma in the conflicts of a company's constraints (Gilbert & MR Bowers, 2014). This tool helps the company in solving hidden conflicts which act as opposing forces that prevent the company from attaining its goals. In constructing the conflict resolution cloud, two assumptions are based on.one of the assumptions is that conflicts are solved by compromise while the other is that conflicts result from false assumptions. Essentially, the conflict resolution cloud involves different steps in determining the core problem in the company. Construction of the conflict resolution will be based on the undesirable effects determined in the current reality tree above.

There are two key assumptions made by the conflict resolution diagram above. The main conflicting entities are working with new management strategies or holding on the current strategies. If the company is to hold on the current management strategies, then it will have to modify the existing maintenance techniques in order to reduce the underlying consequences of safety risks, unnecessary maintenance and over expenditures. In the second option, the company can change all the maintenance strategies in the production section in order to meet the set goals.  All these strategies will aim at reducing the cost problems with is the main constraint in the company. The injection in the above diagram is to retain the current strategy while adopting the new management strategies so that the company can avoid new risks

References

Dunbar, G. (2012). Plan the work, work the plan (a case study based on maintenance practices in the mining industry) [Ebook] (pp. 1-37).

Gilbert, K., & MR Bowers, M. (2014). Lean maintenance repair and overhaul – Changing the way you do business [Ebook]. .McGaw Hill Education.

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My Assignment Help. Constraints And Maintenance Strategies In Mining Production [Internet]. My Assignment Help. 2019 [cited 22 May 2024]. Available from: https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/mining-lean-maintenance-repair-and-overhaul.

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