Dig for victory: what mining and quarrying OEMs expect from their suppliers

Dig for victory: what mining and quarrying OEMs expect from their suppliers

Mining and quarrying have faced many challenges in the last decade. As a result, the OEMs operating in these sectors are placing more stringent expectations on their suppliers. Here, Andrew Dawes, Product Manager for Hydraulics at ERIKS UK, discusses what these expectations are, and how suppliers can meet them.

The state of mining and quarrying has changed irreversibly in the last decade, as the market becomes more challenging, and their future is even more uncertain. Economic downturns, a reduction in consumer demand, as well as environmental and health & safety legislation, have resulted in the tightening of purse-strings for OEMs. As the pennies are pinched, the focus for OEMs has shifted to efficiency and cost-reduction, as well as meeting all the applicable legislation.

The pressure, however, is not only on the OEMs, but also their suppliers - after all, the whole cannot be greater than the sum of its parts, particularly if the parts themselves are not up to specification. In fact, faulty or sub-standard machinery costs thousands of pounds in time lost due to maintenance and repair. Furthermore, as a typically hazardous working environment, the safety of mining and quarrying workers depends on their machines working correctly.

As a result, the expectations placed on an OEM’s suppliers, distributors, and maintenance, repair and overhaul services are now more rigorous than ever before.

Cost and storage constraints are just one example. With inventory availability on site being reduced, OEMs do not always have the parts they need, when they need them. This means they are increasingly reliant on suppliers to be able to supply parts and equipment, often within very tight delivery windows. Ordering each part when required does save money, but in turn can affect the efficiency of operations when parts aren’t available within the required timeframe.

Availability of parts and the quality of the equipment are just as important. Aggressive working environments like the mining and quarrying industry require equipment that is designed for these purposes and is capable of withstanding impact from large pieces of debris, or heavy payloads, without breaking or wearing down.

Choosing a supplier that understands the demands of the sector and the environment in which customers are working is therefore imperative. Additional services such as on-site application support can make all the difference for OEM’s, ensuring that the right equipment and parts are specified, delivered and installed correctly. This proposition can be offered across both new and redesigned machinery and can make all the difference in keeping a plant running and productive for as long as possible.

The key to supporting the mining and quarrying industry is the idea of customisable services. A supplier that can bend and flex to the needs of the OEM, within reason, is increasingly required and expected by the market place. This may be something as simple as on-site support, but it could also mean companies remodelling a part for a particular purpose, building something from scratch, or perhaps product upgrades.

The OEM and supplier relationship is an incredibly important factor within this and it must be a two-way partnership. The more information the OEM is willing to provide about the equipment and the application, the more mutual and collaborative a partnership can be. The supplier’s knowledge of the sector and of the customer’s needs and expectations will also be instrumental in the long-term productivity of the plant and in achieving the best possible outcomes for it.

Keeping it legal
Legal regulations regarding health, safety and environmental impact are both strict and complex, and could cost OEMs dear if not followed to the letter. This extends to the supplier, whose parts must also meet legislation in order to provide machinery that is both safe to operate, but also effective. It is the role of the supplier to advise OEMs on the best pieces of equipment to meet both their own requirements and the legal standards.

By keeping ahead of the expectations of both their customers, and their customer’s customers, a supplier or maintenance provider stands to build a stronger, more collaborative relationship with their OEMs. As well as being mutually beneficial, this will also help to revitalise the mining and quarrying industries by making them more efficient, more environmentally-friendly and more cost-effective.

 
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