About Simplifying Mining Maintenance

People in a reactive mining maintenance environment are busy. The phone constantly rings during the workday, and they get calls every night and on the weekends. The worst part about it is that they deal with the same problems over and over. They never have time to plan because they run from one emergency breakdown to the next.

I hope this book will help change that. In my experience, well-run maintenance organisations do have time. When everything is scheduled and goes according to plan, these departments don’t have all that drama all the time.

The tools I present here should help them transition from a reactive workplace to a proactive workplace where planning and scheduling deliver the intended business improvements. I hope to destress their professional lives and give maintenance managers back the time they need to do their jobs with quality, precision, and forethought. I want them to enjoy their weekends again.

I understand the critical role of maintenance. I’ve worked all over the world for various mining companies at all different levels, and this experience has allowed me to understand what the general manager (GM) and the chief operating officer (COO) want to see. They want to see more profit! It’s not complicated.

I also realise what the maintenance manager is going through and how his relationship with the GM and COO can be damaged. When equipment becomes unreliable, and the maintenance manager usually says he needs more people and money to correct the situation. This is not what the GM and COO want to hear.

I hope maintenance managers will use this book to find practical solutions to common dilemmas we all face. Every time I help people at a mine site, I see the same struggles over and over—difficulties I’ve seen solved many times before. There is no reason why these problems can’t be eliminated so maintenance people can get back to performing proper and precise preventive maintenance that keeps their machines running well. In part 1 of the book I describe the experiences and mistakes that taught me about the major pain points and in part 2 how to solve some of these pain points in a simple manner.

I also hope COOs and other executives will use this book to gain insight into how to improve maintenance and reliability. They’ll learn how to judge maintenance. They’ll come to understand why they need to look at maintenance in the long term and not from one year to the next. If your expenditures are for planned and scheduled maintenance, executives should expect fluctuations in their expenditures from one year to the next. But that doesn’t mean everything is bad in the maintenance area.

I’ll also help executives understand the difference between scheduled and unscheduled service, and the metrics they need to better understand how this preventive work is performing. Executives understand the value of servicing their personal cars. Preventive upkeep on mining equipment is the same; it protects your investments and will pay dividends for the business. Keeping this in mind helps us to simplify how we approach the maintenance and operations of our mining equipment and plants.

I’ll also introduce a couple of models that I like to use. I know, I know. I just told you how we’ve come to rely too much on complicated models and theories. But these are not models that require companies to restructure their entire operation. Instead, executives and maintenance managers can use these simple models to change the way they think about maintenance and find ways to improve it. The models establish the values that form the foundation for improvements to maintenance and provide a reference to communicate a way of thinking rather than define a prescriptive way of doing things.

Finally, I want leaders—whether they are a COO or a maintenance manager—to take extreme ownership of the maintenance outcomes. The buck stops with you.

People often like to blame others for equipment breakdowns. They blame the manufacturer or they blame the contractor. But maintenance managers and general managers have to accept their responsibilities when it comes to equipment reliability.

Sometimes the maintenance manager pulls people off scheduled maintenance so they can repair an emergency breakdown. Sometimes the general manager won’t surrender a machine for scheduled maintenance because he needs it to keep working. These people must look at themselves first and ask if their actions are contributing to the poor reliability of their equipment.

Writing this book made me reflect on my first maintenance manager’s role. I was not getting the results I wanted from two fleets. I started to blame the guys who supplied and overhauled our components because some had failed, but then I realised that I had selected the suppliers. I had to own that decision with zero excuses.

If you don’t have that mindset—that level of extreme ownership and zero excuses—then you won’t take steps to correct the problem. The result is a mine that does not produce—something I’ve seen happen a number of times—or a mine that isn’t nearly as profitable as it could be. If you want to be part of a highly productive and profitable mine, then read on to learn the simple steps you can take to achieve it.

By writing this book, I’m not suggesting that the maintenance operations I have overseen in my career always ran perfectly. We often had excellent performance, but my maintenance teams were never perfect. That’s why I can relate to people going through the same experiences. Despite these occasional setbacks, I always focused on continually improving the equipment reliability and eliminating breakdowns. I maintain the same belief I had as a supervisor all those years ago: we can control all failure modes and while I don’t profess to have all of the answers, I can say what worked for me can work for you also

About The Author

GERARD WOOD is one of the mining industry’s foremost
authorities on proper mining equipment maintenance. In
his long career, Gerard has been all over the world, working
his way up from a tradesperson to a maintenance
general manager with advanced degrees in electrical
engineering, business, and mining engineering. As managing
director for Bluefield AMS, Gerard helps the world’s most well-known
mining companies keep their machines running with a simple, practical
approach that saves money and improves equipment reliability.

Bluefield 30 Years Of Mining Maintenance In 30 Minutes


Bluefield 30 in 30 podcast

Over the years we have seen many experienced leaders, maintenance managers, senior engineers, general managers and experience tradespeople leave our industry, taking with them the knowledge and experience that they have gained over their 30 plus year careers. As the quote says above it is necessary to have understanding in order to simplify and experience is essential for us to develop that understanding.

subscribe on spotify

Order Your Copy Here

Simplifying Mining Maintenance


In the world of mining, both mining and asset management professionals often face challenging plant and fleet reliability or cost
problems. Over the years we have developed complicated systems and processes to deal with such situations, but in the real world of maintenance, to be truly effective, organizations must adopt practical, people-based processes and routines that are simple so that large
groups of people can align and become effective.

After more than thirty years in the mining business, Gerard Wood has experienced firsthand the persistent maintenance problems that
can occur, which led him to develop effective methods for managing maintenance teams and ensuring optimal equipment performance. In
Simplifying Mining Maintenance, he presents two time-tested models for reliable maintenance management, as well as actionable solutions
to common problems causing unscheduled downtime events, increased scheduled downtime, cost concerns, people problems, and
transitions to operations.

Having the best maintenance organization in the world is possible—by getting back to basics with simple, culture-focused models that can
keep any mining business running like a well-oiled machine.

What People Are Saying

Related Articles

Simplifying Mining Maintenance in Peru

Last week Gerard Wood and Alfredo Pérez presented in front of a group of maintenance and supply professionals from the…

Two Ways to Reduce Parts and Labour Waste in Your Mine

The following is adapted from Simplifying Mining Maintenance. Mining companies lose tens of millions of dollars by poorly managing parts,…

How to Resolve People Problems in Your Mining Operation

The following is adapted from Simplifying Mining Maintenance. When you get down to it, every problem related to mining maintenance…

Maintenance Managers, Are You Certain?

I was talking to an associate recently who was telling me about a meeting for Maintenance Managers that he attended. During this meeting,…

Failure Analysis Support Tool: ‘Get to the root cause of your equipment failure…. FAST’