Operations Illustrated: Benchmark Your Load-Haul Operations
Consider all options when making load-haul decisions. After comparing the cost of conveyors and power versus trucks and fuel — and taking into account conveyor movements as the face location changes — Preferred Sands installed transport conveyors in most of its operations to reduce haul truck usage.
The loader operator should take the lead on establishing customer traffic patterns. Ideally, the bucket should be full and raised in the air when the truck pulls up to be loaded. One way to communicate the correct stopping point is for the loader operator to beep his horn to let the truck driver know he’s in the right position.
Bucket scales are commonly used on topside loaders to ensure safe and accurate loads before trucks leave the site. Many loader operators communicate via CB with the scale house to check that the scale house’s actual weight matches that of the loader scale measurement. Cross checking lets the loader operator know if his scales need to be calibrated.
Equipment manufacturers are incorporating safety concerns into their new equipment design. Late model equipment features much more glass in the cab and often takes great care to minimize blind spots. For example, newer trucks often sport sloped hoods to improve visibility in front of the unit. Rear back-up cameras are also standard equipment on many models.
Bob Carter is the senior vice president of operations for Preferred Sands of Radnor, Pa. Carter has a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and a master’s in business administration — both from the University of Utah at Salt Lake City. He has more than 20 years of experience in managing minerals companies, as well as software and engineering businesses.
Doug Phillips is the product manager for Shippensburg, Pa.-based Volvo Construction Products. He has been with the company for 20 years, beginning by building wheel loaders and leading the quality team. For the last six years, he has served as product manager for wheel loaders and has specialized in the aggregate industry.
VOICES OF EXPERIENCE
Knowledge is power, particularly when it comes to making equipment-related decisions, says Bob Carter, senior vice president of operations for Radnor, Pa.-based Preferred Sands. Recently, the company collected data in a new computerized maintenance system so it can compare performance from plant to plant.
“In order to drive asset utilization, you’ve got to be able to track the frequency of failures,” Carter says. “The cost of those failures drives a lot of your key performance indicators.”
Once the relevant data was gathered, Carter said he looked at it from an activity-based perspective. This entailed reviewing work orders against assets, as well as categories of assets and plants, so he could mine the data for a series of “top 10” reports that allowed him to establish benchmarks for the various activities, such as loading and hauling.
The company then began to make decisions on equipment standardization, which was important because it grew through acquisition and had equipment from up to half a dozen manufacturers within one type of equipment. “When you look at standardizing your equipment, there are two things that drive the decision,” Carter says, “the knowledge of the equipment — being able to compare its failure points and its performance — and your spare parts costs.”