The Maintainer of the Future

The Maintainer of the Future:
Key Drivers, Barriers and Solutions

The Mining3 white paper ‘Maintainer of the Future’ examines how the evolution of technology and asset management will change the training and role of the modern mining maintainer, with significant recommendations for industry.

In the last two decades, we have seen substantial changes in how assets are operated due to advances in process control, remote operations systems, and the development of autonomous assets. In contrast, the nature of maintainers’ day-to-day work has changed very little. Engines still need lubricating, motors wired up, pipes welded and sensing systems repaired.

However, we may be at a tipping point as a combination of business drivers (cost, productivity, safety) and technical developments (automation, augmented reality, real-time diagnostics) combine to change the nature of maintenance work.

The Mining3 white paper ‘Maintainer of the Future’, authored by Professor Melinda Hodkiewicz and William Jacobs, examines these drivers and looks at how these might influence the work and training of the mining maintainer of the future.

This study looks at drivers of change, including those that are expected to asset design, technical support equipment, and organisational processes in the next 15 years. As well as how these developments affect the role of maintainers and their tasks.

The training of maintainers in Australia is also assessed to identify the key enablers and barriers, to ensure a suitably matched maintenance workforce for the changes expected.

The findings of the study have significant implications for the mining sector, with recommendations to improve productivity, safety and skills management.

As an industry, mining needs to consider how to ensure that maintainers are performing the right role, working efficiently and effectively, and meeting organisational needs with appropriate skill sets.

Safety and cost pressures to remove operating people from hazardous environments can be addressed by rethinking maintenance workforce roles and through equipment design changes. Moving towards a more controlled and planned environment will reduce fatalities and incidents.

Maintainers’ skills requirements are changing, with proficiencies needed for using digital interfaces and conduct troubleshooting and diagnostics using a range of tools.

Proactive maintenance, using data gained from sensors and embedded systems, requires a different culture and different skills in the maintainer workforce compared to those used working in a reactive environment.

The Mining3 white paper ‘Maintainer of the Future’ can be accessed here.