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Eritrea Needs a Modern Preventative Maintenance Program for Mining and Transport

Posted by: thomas mountain

Date: Monday, 25 February 2019

Eritrea Needs a Modern Preventative Maintenance Program for Our Mining
and Transport Industries.

Eritrea needs a modern preventative maintenance (P.M.) program for our
mining and transport industries. To understand how preventing sudden
machine failure during operations is the largest preventable expense
in mining and transportation one must understand how machines work.

Think of oil as the blood of any machine. When you go to the doctor
for a check up you have a blood test done to see what is going on
inside your body.

If oil is the blood of a machine by testing the oil you can see what
is going on inside the machine. Testing oil, or oil analysis, is
nothing new, what is new is how easily it can be done in this modern
technological age.

A modern site based oil analysis preventative maintenance program
could reduce breakdowns, equipment failure, by 85% by finding out what
is going wrong inside the machine and repairing it during scheduled
down time without any lost production.

Lost production, when a machine should be putting out and isn’t, is
the largest preventable expense in the mining and transport industry
accounting for up to 50% of total operating expenses in inefficient
mines and transport companies. In other words if the machines keep
failing, less work is being done, less money is coming in while the
bills pretty much stay the same.

To understand just how critical oil analysis is take for example one
of the huge rock excavators at Bisha which loads something like
$20,000 an hour worth of copper ore. If a mechanical part in the
machine fails without warning and the machine can no longer operate,
the company, 40% of which is owned by Eritrea and our people, is
losing almost $500,000 a day, $3.5 million a week in lost production.
If can take up to a week to fly the parts in via DHL, a day to
complete the repair with $3.5 million worth of copper ore not being
delivered to the mill. And this is just one machine for a week, and
there are a lot of big machines running round the clock at the Bisha
mine. Even more when the Dubarwa/Embadurho copper mines starts
production in 2019 followed by the giant potash mine in the Danakil,
home to some of the most hostile conditions to humans and machines on
the planet.

These days modern mining and transport companies  are able to keep
preventative maintenance to only 20% of total operating expenses by
instituting a modern oil analysis (think blood testing) program.

When you add up as much as 30% reduction in operating expenses due to
lost production by adopting a modern P.M. system in Eritrea’s mining
industry over the decades to come, alongside 40% Eritrean mine
ownership, you are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars that
could be saved for our peoples benefit.


The Bisha mine for years operated under the “If it A modern site based
oil analysis preventative maintenance program could reduce breakdowns,
equipment failure, by 85% by finding out what is going wrong inside
the machine and repairing it during scheduled down time without any
lost production. broke, don't fix it” principle and its high levels of
lost production time tell the story best.

The Zara gold mine is owned and operated by a Chinese construction
company and the new Dubarwa/Embadurho mine in the highlands outside of
Asmara is the next Chinese construction company owned mine in Eritrea.
The Chinese don't practice preventive maintenance, they run their
machines until they break.


It is really simple to do preventative maintenance in this day of the
microchip. A smart phone with an infrared camera can tell you
instantly with a picture of a passing machine if any part of that
equipment was running hot and automatically text this message to the
central office. The person using the infrared smart phone does not
even have to read and write very well, just take a picture with the
smart phone and technology does the rest. Knowing the operating
conditions of a machine on the road allows you to flag that machine
and prevent equipment breakdown in the field.

There is another smart phone sized device that in 1 minute tells you
what condition your engine is in. Whenever you check the engine oil
you put a drop of oil on a spot in the “smart phone” and quickly find
out if there is any water leaking into the engine oil, the number one
cause of premature engine failure. This “Fluidscan” hand held computer
along with “fuel sniffers” to detect fuel in the engine oil in one
minute, the number two cause of premature engine failure, a
“ferromometer” to detect amounts and iron particle size in a minute,
the best indicator of pending engine failure and a desk top computer
that in 15 minutes does an in depth precise analysis of the oil of any
moving part in the machine, including transmissions, differentials,
final drives and hydraulic systems.

There are vibration analyzers that measure sound waves being emanated
by a machine and tell you just what bearing in what part of the
machine is going bad, even as the machine is traveling past the hand
held sensor. Like the infrared camera, this information is real time
data that can flag problematic machines during operations and prevent
roadside or in the field breakdowns.

Knowing what is going on inside the machine allows you to plan repairs
efficiently when the machine is scheduled to be shut down anyway for
maintenance. You order the parts before hand and Sunday night when the
plant shuts down for maintenance you do your repairs eliminating 85%
of unscheduled repairs.

This is the key to preventing production loss, the largest
controllable expense in mining and transportation.

Eritrea needs a modern preventative maintenance program and training
for its drivers, operators and technicians to help save our country
tens if not hundreds of millions of our peoples money, money
desperately needed for other priorities.

Thomas C. Mountain worked in the heavy equipment field for 20 years in
the USA and was a Heavy Equipment Instructor and a Foreman for one of
the largest mining, construction and energy companies in the country.
See thomascmountain on Facebook, thomascmountain on Twitter or best
reach him at thomascmountain at g mail dot com
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