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Finning identify £600,000 potential operational savings for Imerys

An 18-month in-depth consultancy by Finning has identified potential operational savings of more than £600,000 at Imerys UK’s site in Cornwall
An 18-month in-depth consultancy by Finning has identified potential operational savings of more than £600,000 at Imerys UK’s site in Cornwall

Leading minerals supplier benefits from Caterpillar dealer’s analysis of operational efficiency on site

FINNING UK & Ireland have completed an 18-month in-depth consultancy for Imerys UK at their Cornwall site which has initially identified potential savings of more than £600,000 per annum.

The team at Finning, the world’s largest dealer of Caterpillar equipment and parts, were approached by Imerys to identify operational cost and CO2 emissions reductions at their 38 square mile site in Cornwall. The site, which employs around 1,000 people, produces 700,000 tonnes of kaolin per year and is one of 250 sites which Imerys operate across 50 countries.


The analysis of this site by the Finning team included observing operator behaviour, haul routes, site conditions, and fleet health to develop increased efficiencies.

The team identified several factors impacting operational efficiency at the site. These included several sharp haul route turns and haul routes with gradients greater than 10% resulting in increased fuel burn and cycle time. The team also looked at dump area management and jobsite set-up, as well as considering the operational requirements of dealing with legacy stockpiles and multiple face heights.

The findings of the in-depth study were presented to the management team at Imerys alongside indicative data on improving fuel burn, minimizing machine wear and tear, optimizing loading times, and reducing idle times and waiting times.

Glen Heather, Imerys’ mining technical engineer - central area, who has been working alongside the Finning team, said the data, modelling, and operational advice provided proved invaluable in quantifying the cost to the operation of not making improvements.

He explained: ‘The consultancy support from Finning has enabled us to quantify the cost savings for a range of improvements, such as road widening, that will optimize operational efficiency across the site. The data provided also enable us to identify which improvements to prioritize to deliver the greatest savings.

‘We knew we needed to improve our plant productivity to improve our environmental performance, reduce the cost of wear and tear on our machines, and cut our fuel costs. What we didn’t know with accuracy was how much not changing them was costing us.’

Work with Imerys initially began in July 2021 but was extended when senior managers and supervisors saw the benefits. The key recommendations for improvement have related to adapting some of the on-site haul routes, reducing gradients and rolling resistance, while increasing the width of the routes to enable machines to pass each other, and limiting pinch points to decreases machine idling times and fuel burn.

Ross Marshall, continuous improvement advisor at Finning, said: ‘We identified lots of operational changes for the team at Imerys and highlighted key changes to management, infrastructure, and operator techniques using Caterpillar quarry modelling solutions. To demonstrate productivity and increased efficiencies, the specialized Cat modelling software also presented and simulated cost savings to justify management making the on-site improvements. And, in collaboration with the Imerys team, we used the modelling solution to demonstrate how Imerys could make a 10% decrease in cycle times on site.

‘When you consider the number of assets operating at this site, it was important to simulate the impact that small incremental gains have on the amount of fuel efficiency and machine wear and tear.

‘Visiting this unique site to get an accurate view of the whole operation was essential as there were legacy issues with access roads being both steep and narrow, meaning they were struggling to achieve efficient dumptruck times because they were having to pull into lay-bys, which was racking up idling costs.

‘Operator experience is also vital in achieving maximum site productivity, and because of our work Imerys are committed to a programme of training. So far, 16 of their operators have undertaken our proprietary eco-Drive training which shows them how to improve the machine efficiencies.

‘What’s most helpful to site operations teams is that we can simulate and carry out physical surveys to show what good looks like for them, so they can see if making the changes we propose will give them a good return on investment.’

Glen Heather agreed: ‘Understanding how much implementing a different route design can save in operational costs makes it far easier to take action, so it’s really helped us from an operational perspective.

‘I’ve also seen real value in having an independent pair of eyes to identify our areas of improvement. Ross and his team were willing to come and see the challenges we face on site and were extremely clear and professional in all their communications with us, and we’re really pleased with the work they have done.’

Moving forward, Finning will continue to provide service support to all equipment on site, ranging from full repair and maintenance to preventive maintenance.


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