Interview – Mining Maintenance Specialist
We interviewed Juan Maita Postigo, Senior Engineer who specializes in maintenance, strategy, and development. Juan works in a top tier mining company and tells us the how the role of maintenance is changing.
Ax Legal: Based on your experience, could you tell us how maintenance is managed today?
Juan: I must point out that the answers that I will give are based on my personal experience and expertise in the area of equipment maintenance in the mining industry.
Considering the last two large mining companies in which I have worked in Chile: Antofagasta Minerals and BHP, the maturity profile of each is based on optimizing the “Predictive” stage of identifying maintenance failures, with the focus on reaching the “Proactive” stage. The goal of both is ensuring the “Operational Reliability” of the equipment.
In general, current maintenance practices are based on the “Owners Strategy”, which is tailor-made for each area and differs depending on the budget and available resources of each company. However, I dare to say that most maintenance practices are based on the mining and plant plans of each operation which are influenced by goals around material movement and production.
Ax Legal: How have maintenance operations changed in the mining industry in the last five years?
Juan: From a functional point of view, we have gone from focusing on “Preventive Maintenance” to “Predictive Maintenance “. From an organizational point of view, maintenance has become independent from the operational areas, becoming autonomous, which is due to the large budgetary considerations of the equipment and the impact it has on the results of the mine.
The “People” factor, caring for the “Environment” and “Community Relations” have become key in obtaining sustainable results. “Safety” plays an important role, and is supported by the policies and values of the companies.
Going back to functionality, technology and best in class maintenance practices are essential to sustain the “Predictive” stage that companies are trying to currently optimize. The key is to have all the information integrated into systems and control centers.
Ax Legal: Are there differences in how mining maintenance operations are managed in Latin America and other countries like Australia?
Juan: BHP Chile and BHP Australia are closely related since both Operational Presidents report to the same CEO. Therefore, the policies, approaches, processes, and procedures are the same. The execution may not be the same but only due to the difference that exists in human capital, the means of each operation, resources available, and cultural competences.
Ax Legal: What kinds of technological changes are taking place in the maintenance field? Are they being adopted in Latin America at the same rate as other countries?
Juan: Technological changes in maintenance have evolved considerably, mainly in the field of monitoring the conditions of the equipment for good “Asset Management”. We do not have much to envy regarding the mining companies in the US and Australia because we are world class as well, but I have the impression that in Latin America we march at a slower pace than other countries.
Ax Legal: There are many companies that offer predictive maintenance technology to mining companies. What are the factors that make one companies offer better service than another?
Juan: Undoubtedly, the quality and price of the product, and more importantly, the quality of service associated with the after-sales support.
Ax Legal: In your opinion, are these the typical problems that foreign companies have when introducing their technology in the Chilean maintenance industry?
Juan: Mainly ignorance of the product and history of applications in other companies. Secondary, is the cost / benefit of what is offered by not having a benchmark or effective comparison between them.
Ax Legal is a legal and business advisory firm that works with foreign companies in Latin America. Our team of legal and commercial advisors have a distinguished track record of helping foreign technology and services companies to grow and operate in Latin America. Over the years, we have worked with starts up, mid-size businesses, and publicly listed companies. The one common factor that connects are clients is that they are leaders in their field, providing innovative technologies and services to the industrial sectors.
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