A new MIP model for mine equipment scheduling by minimizing maintenance cost
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Mining investment has been recognized as capital intensive due mainly to the cost of large equipment. Equipment capital costs for a given operation are usually within the order of hundreds of million dollars but may reach to billion dollars for large companies operating multiple mines. Such large investments require the optimum usage of equipment in a manner that the operating costs are minimized and the utilization of equipment is maximized through optimal scheduling. This optimum usage is required to ensure that the business remains sustainable and financially stable. Most mining operations utilize trucks to haul the mined material. Maintenance is one of the major operating cost items for these fleets as it can reach approximately one hundred million dollars yearly. There is no method or application in the literature that optimizes the utilization for truck fleet over the life of mine. A new approach based on mixed integer programming (MIP) techniques is used for annually scheduling a fixed fleet of mining trucks in a given operation, over a multi-year time horizon to minimize maintenance cost.The model uses the truck age (total hours of usage), maintenance cost and required operating hours to achieve annual production targets to produce an optimum truck schedule. While this paper focuses on scheduling trucks for mining operation, concept can be used in most businesses using equipment with significant maintenance costs. A case study for a large scale gold mine showed an annual discounted (10% rate) maintenance cost saving of over $2M and more than 16% ($21M) of overall maintenance cost reduction over 10 years of mine life, compared with the spreadsheet based approach used currently at the operation.
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