Engineering and logistics aspects of mining projects

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The traditional model in planning the engineering/logistics aspects of mining projects has been to select individual contractors based on their core competencies.

The mining company would first determine the engineering requirements based on mechanical and electrical capabilities and then as a separate exercise, source a logistics/supply chain provider to transport the capital equipment and materials to site.

Engineering companies have a high level of understanding of the capital equipment and materials required for a project. Logistics companies plan, implement and control movements of capital equipment and materials from point of origin to point of destination. Both disciplines are dealing with the same capital equipment or materials.

Forming a strategic partnership and combining knowledge about the capital equipment and logistics requirements will improve the success of any mining project. The combining synergies and knowledge of both disciplines will result in more effective and efficient integrated supply chain solutions and this could be stated as: “The combined knowledge as a result of the strategic partnership is greater than the sum of the individual knowledge of the partners.”

Another benefit that stems from a strategic partnership would be the involvement of one project manager between the disciplines. The project manager coordinates and manages people, processes, assets and technology to provide accurate information used for making informed decisions which will ultimately adds quantifiable value to any project.

The engineering/logistics strategic partnership will result in more cost effective and timely solutions, minimising risk and optimising efficiency for mining company projects.

Until now the engineering/logistics services of mining projects were separate and rarely considered in the same light. The traditional model in mining projects has been that the mining company determines the engineering requirements of the project, for example, capital machinery requirements and locations and then, as a separate exercise, the mining company will create a tender for logistics to deliver equipment on site.

Typically there is little interaction between the engineering and logistics companies even though there are so many areas of mutual overlap and knowledge. The benefits of these companies getting together to discuss and organise the logistics chain are enormous. Obviously every project is different. The type of capital equipment needed, the location, terrain, timing and weather typically varies across every project.

Engineers have a very detailed understanding of the capital equipment required — it is their core competency. They know every nut and bolt and every wire inside ‘their’ machines that make them work. Typically these machines are very expensive investments.

Logistics companies plan, implement and control movements of capital equipment. The logistics company knows dimensions. They know about size (and why size matters in logistics) and the best mode of transport mover required as well as the detailed logistical requirements of the movement.

In the traditional model, totally separate organisational structures exist with duplicate roles and functions and minimal interaction between the disciplines.

By Hellmann Worldwide Logistics www.hellmann.net/australia

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