WHEN Outokumpu Technology set up its Australian Service Centre just four years ago, a global resource boom wasn't even on the radar.
But with the centre trebling in size by 2006, the global leader in minerals and metals processing technology is now well placed to provide world-class skills to enhance the efficiency of its customers' plants.
Operating from bases in Sydney and Perth, the service centre has been structured to provide vital skills at a time of unprecedented demand for them, says the Australian Service Centre's Manager, Jason King.
With a core establishment of two dozen staff, supported by expertise from Outokumpu's operations in both Australia and worldwide, the centre is focused on key service areas including preventative maintenance, upgrades, spare parts management and excellence in training and safety.
Outokumpu’s service skills span the minerals processing and metallurgical industries spectrum, from process audits and optimisation, through to the application of proper maintenance skills and spares management.
The company has developed a solid track record in the area of installation/shutdown supervision, as well as upgrade and modernisation projects involving turnkey design and construction work where there is a benefit to their customers.
Where their customers have a service need, they do much more than supply technology and parts - they can install, supervise, commission and also handle vital ancillary work such as foundations, piping, structural, plant cut-in and electrical installation, says Outokumpu.
At a time when industry is searching for resources, Outokumpu is stepping up to the plate and offering more and more assistance.
The latest step in Outokumpu Technology's multi-million dollar investment in its service centre included the recent opening of a new service facility in Kewdale, Perth. This is equipped to inspect and overhaul equipment, perform tests on behalf of customers, complete pre-assembly work and consolidate spares deliveries for West Australian customers.
Reflecting the rapid response requirements of the business, the Kewdale facility has sea containers packed with supplies and tools ready to roll for install and overhaul projects.
The facility is equipped to apply expertise wherever they are needed and aim to be available at any time they are needed, says Outokumpu.
With many companies urgently seeking to outsource roles previously managed on site, Outokumpu Technology presents a wealth of experience and expertise in areas such as comminution, flotation, thickening, analysers, automation and physical separation.
Service centre teams focus on specific areas of need, including:
* Customer training
* Audits and optimisation
* Upgrade and modernisation projects
Outokumpu Technology says their programmes focus on areas where plants, processes and personnel skills can be improved to promote greater profitability, reduced risk of breakdowns, increased technology life, increased safety and motivated plant personnel.
On-site, customised training programmes, for example, are part of the company’s series of regional training seminars. These seminars use training materials with practical benefits proven in the field.
A number of sites are now employing this resource so plant managers can get the best from new staff, while also demonstrating to their new recruits a commitment to ongoing training.
Regular training ensures not only optimum operation, but also results in motivated staff - a key consideration in today's labour market, according to Outokumpu Technology.
The service centre's field and process engineers in Sydney and Perth are available for troubleshooting, inspection, breakdown assistance, regular preventative maintenance, calibration and other vital ongoing tasks.
All Outokumpu's site supervisors undergo workplace health and safety officer training, ensuring appropriate OH&S qualification to handle supervision of site shutdowns.
The Australian Service Centre's spares department has introduced initiatives such as site-specific spares list management to facilitate streamlined inventory control.
Some sites do not have easy access to accurate parts information, which can present unnecessary challenges, sometimes resulting in wrong parts being ordered.
Some spares, particularly those with long lead times, are critical to preventing prolonged downtime. Outokumpu's ongoing cataloguing service means any site can request and receive a fully detailed spares list, with lead time and pricing for all available parts.
With this information, maintenance managers can assess any operational risks associated with lead times for replacement components. Site-specific spares lists assist maintenance planners with comprehensive inventory control and ensure prompt supply of genuine OEM spare parts, says Outokumpu.
The Australian Service Centre, with offices in Perth and Sydney, employs over 20 people and services minerals processing and metallurgical plants in Australia and South East Asia.
(Released by Outokumpu Technology in March 2006.)