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Tue May 21 2024

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Plant study finds efficiency savings for Imerys

13 May An 18-month time and motion study of machine movements at a Cornish clay pit has identified potential savings of more than £600,000.

Finnign found savings to be made in the extraction of china clay
Finnign found savings to be made in the extraction of china clay

Caterpillar dealer Finning has completed a study for Imerys UK at a site in Cornwall that produces 700,000 tonnes of kaolin per year.

The analysis of the site included observing operator behaviour, haul routes, site conditions and fleet health to identify efficiencies.

Finning identified several factors impacting operational efficiency at the site. These included several sharp haul route turns and haul routes with gradients greater than 10%, resulting in increased fuel burn and cycle time. It also looked at dump area management, jobsite set-up and the operational requirements of dealing with legacy stockpiles and multiple face heights.

Recommendations for improvement related to adapting some of the on-site haul routes, reducing gradients and rolling resistance, while increasing the width of the routes to enable machines to pass each other, and limit pinch points which decrease machine idling times and fuel burn.

Finning was able to present Imerys with data on improving fuel burn, minimising machine wear and tear, optimising loading times, reducing idle times and reducing waiting times.

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Imerys Mining technical engineer Glen Heather said: “The consultancy support from Finning has enabled us to quantify the cost savings for a range of improvements, such as road widening, that will optimise operational efficiency across the site. The data provided also enables us to identify which improvements to prioritise to deliver the greatest savings.

“We knew we needed to improve our plant productivity to improve our environmental performance, reduce the cost of wear and tear on our machines and cut our fuel costs. What we didn’t know with accuracy was how much not changing them was costing us.”

Ross Marshall, continuous improvement advisor at Finning, said: “We identified lots of operational changes for the team at Imerys and highlighted key changes to management, infrastructure and operator techniques using Caterpillar quarry modelling solutions. To demonstrate productivity and increased efficiencies, the specialised Cat modelling software also presented and simulated cost savings to justify management making the on-site improvements. And, in collaboration with the Imerys team, we used the modelling solution to demonstrate how Imerys could make a 10% decrease in cycle times on site.

“When you consider the number of assets operating at this site, it was important to simulate the impact that small incremental gains have on the amount of fuel efficiency and machine wear and tear.

“Visiting this unique site to get an accurate view of the whole operation was essential as there were legacy issues with access roads being both steep and narrow meaning they were struggling to achieve efficient dump truck times because they were having to pull into laybys which was racking up idling costs.”

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