Over the years there have been many fires on mobile mining equipment. In fact, a study by the Queensland Department of Mines and Energy over a 12 month period showed that of 228 fires reported in this period 71% were on mobile mining equipment.
Additionally, the insurance industry data shows that for hydraulic excavators at least once every 7 years a fire capable of causing “whole of machine” loss can be expected.
The studies mentioned above have also identified that failure of fundamental maintenance practices are responsible for the majority of these fires. On many mines across the world Bluefield has also identified failed maintenance practices that have, or could lead to fires on mobile equipment. In all of these cases the failures were due to one or more of the following:
- Failure to identify defects with the fire prevention materials included on the machine; eg. fire blankets as shown below
- Failure to identify critical defects that can lead to fire; eg. fuel lines, hydraulic lines, electrical cables, dragging brakes
- Failure to act on reported critical defects in adequate time
- Failure to adequately define in the PM inspections, the standard to which the machine must be maintained in order to maintain the integrity of fire prevention equipment
Bluefield believes that the quality of inspections generally reflect the level of importance placed on the “quality of PM inspections” by the maintenance and site management team. Bluefield also believes that, like structural defects, there is a need for priorities to be placed on defects in areas that can lead to fire. This conclusion is also supported by the data from the Queensland Department of Mines and Energy which has identified Engines, Electrical, Wheel Bearings and Brakes as the top 3 critical areas. Defects in these areas should have a higher criticality and machines should not return to work without these being reviewed by at least an additional technician.
Bluefield is providing practical services for our clients, in mining and other industries, that enable these companies to rapidly close the gaps in these fundamental practices. Developing the necessary ownership and focus on maintaining the required standards is the first step to effective and efficient maintenance which will prevent these types of incidents.