Reliability and Life Cycle Cost Modelling of Mining Drilling Rigs

Abstract: In the context of mining, drilling is the process of making holes in the face and walls of underground mine rooms, to prepare those rooms for the subsequent operation, which is the charging process. Due to the nature of the task, drilling incurs a high number of drilling rig failures. Through a combination of a harsh environment (characterised by dust, high humidity, etc.), the operating context, and reliability and maintainability issues, drilling rigs are identified as a major contributor to unplanned downtime.The purpose of the research performed for this thesis has been to develop methods that can be used to identify the problems affecting drilling rig downtime and to identify the economic lifetime of drilling rigs. New models have been developed for calculating the optimum replacement time of drilling rigs. These models can also be used for other machines which have repairable or replaceable components. Based on an analysis performed in a case study, a life cycle cost (LCC) optimization model has been developed, taking the most important factors affecting the economic replacement time of drilling rigs into consideration. To this end, research literature studies, case studies, and simulation studies have been performed, interviews have been held, observations have been made and data have been collected. For the data analysis, theories and methodologies within reliability, maintainability, ergonomics and optimization have been combined with the best practices from the related industries.Firstly, this thesis analyses the downtime of the studied drilling rigs, with the precision and uncertainty of the estimation at a given confidence level, along with the factors influencing the failures. Secondly, the thesis identifies components that significantly contribute to the downtime and the reason for that downtime (maintainability and/or reliability problems). Based on the failure analysis, some minor suggestions have been made as to how to improve the critical components of the drilling rig. Thirdly, a new method is proposed that can help decision makers to identify the replacement time of reparable equipment from an economic point of view. Finally, the thesis proposes a method using the artificial neural network (ANN) for predicting the economic lifetime of drilling rigs through a series of basic weights and response functions. This ANN-based method can be made available to engineers without the use of complicated software.Most of the results are related to specific industrial and scientific challenges, such as planning for cost-effectiveness. The results of the case study are promising for the possibility of making a significant reduction in the LCC by optimizing the lifetime. The results have been verified through interaction with experienced practitioners from both the manufacturer and the mining company using the drilling rig in question.