Komatsu has successfully applied its continuous improvement program to its on-site operations Kalgoorlie's Superpit, operated by Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines (KCGM), which include responsibility for availability and maintenance on the mine's four PC

This is an edited version of an article by Fiona Thomson that originally appeared in the May 2008 edition of "The Dirt". KCGM’s quarterly newsletter for employees, contractors and the community.

On-going maintenance of the four shovels at the Superpit, and ensuring they achieve the required levels of reliability and availability is a major challenge in the current global climate of an unprecedented mining boom.

For example, Komatsu Australia's parts department has to order parts for shutdowns up to two years in advance! There are only six PC8000s in Australia, four of which are at KCGM, and parts are just not readily available.

To ensure that Komatsu Australia maintains the required levels of support, reliability and availability to KCGM, it has applied "Kaizen" methodology (meaning "change for the better" or "continuous improvement") at this operation for the past four years.

Garry Giles, Komatsu Project Manager at KCGM is "always encouraging my guys to look at ways to improve" and since he has been at site, he has seen many improvements in the way the team conducts its work.

On a monthly basis the Komatsu team, along with KCGM's Steve Bryce (Maintenance Superintendent) and Kapila Karunaratna (Manager Mining), set monthly targets in association with an activities checklist and 3W (what, who and when) action log.

Garry continually reviews action items that have previously been implemented to ensure they keep working the way they were intended.

"This is a great way to continuously review what had been planned to be achieved forming an integral part of Komatsu's 'Plan-Do-Review' CI methodology," said Garry.

In addition, each year for the past three years, a business improvement specialist from Komatsu's Japan headquarters has visited KCGM to undertake time-and-motion studies on the process/equipment interface monitoring and critiquing maintenance activities for improvement.

In October 2007 Komatsu commissioned a shutdown caravan equipped with a communication system to improve the level of communication on the shutdown pad.

Full computer access the same as when working in any site office allows better compliance data (job safety analysis) and parts and maintenance program access.

At all times requests for parts can be emailed, organised ready for pick up at the store, allowing supervisors to keep up to date with all their normal input and data entry from the pit, saving many trips backwards and forwards.

This idea came from Komatsu's site shift foremen and was supported by Gary Giles and those in the KCGM team a great example of supplier-customer teamwork!

And in a further bid to maintain and improve shovel availability, Komatsu (with KCGM support) last year, changed its two 20 minute daily inspections to a 40 and 20 minute schedule per machine.

This has allowed more time to complete small jobs rather than having to reschedule for larger maintenance shutdowns.

As a consequence, availability has increased and MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures, or reliability) has increased.

Superpit General Manager Russell Cole commented that "Komatsu's take up of the 40/20 initiative has been excellent and they have really made it their own."

The Komatsu team at the Superpit has also come up with a host of other ideas to increase reliability and extend service intervals and life of components and consumables, covering such aspects as hydraulic systems, air conditioning, lighting, GET and the shovel buckets themselves.

Many of these ideas have since been shared with other Komatsu mining operations around Australia.

Clearly Garry and his team are committed to making their KCGM service depot one of the world's best practice operations.