More Pumps Because We Bump!

Teck Realized a 70% Downtime Reduction...

Teck's Fording River Operations (FRO) is the largest coal mine in the Elk Valley in southeastern British Columbia. At the Fording River plant, coal is washed and separated from rock through various processes to create a sellable product, and pumps are used throughout this process to transfer material from one point to another. Should any pump within the process fail to perform, plant production comes to a stop. To prevent this and ensure continuous operation, each processing pump is backed up by a spare one, which will turn on if an operating pump is not functioning correctly or adequately.


If a back-up pump sits idle for an extended period of time, the material inside can settle and create a plug, which has meant that all too often the back-up pumps do not function properly when they are required. The only way to know if a pump will function properly when its needed is to test it regularly.

The main processing stream at the Fording River plant is separated into two major streams: North and South. Therefore, when a spare pump fails to perform when required at either stream, the plant production capacity is reduced to half.

In 2013, Fording River had 28 incidents during which they had to run the plant at half rates due to a failed back-up pump. These incidents resulted in having to run at half rates for 12.98 hours, which was the equivalent of approximately $821,000 in lost revenue.


In January 2014, the FRO plant reliability and operations teams introduced the spare pump bump test to ensure that the back-up pumps are always in good working order. The test is performed every other day and involves starting the spare pumps for a brief moment then recording any observed exceptions, such as failed packing, leaks, loose belts, plugging or issues in the feed or discharge lines. The operator also inspects the operating pumps to ensure they are in good condition. Bump testing and inspecting the pumps regularly helps reduce downtime by identifying and correcting issues proactively.

The inspection results are recorded on handheld computers and uploaded to the Fording River MAINTelligence database. Teck adopted MAINTelligence in 2011 as our Equipment Health Management System to collect, analyze and store equipment health data. With the results stored in electronic formats, the system has streamlined compliance tracking and exception reporting.


For 2014 year-to-date, there have been only nine incidents, resulting in 3.19 hours of half plant downtime or approximately $202,000 in lost revenue. Comparing on a monthly basis between 2013 and 2014, both the downtime hours and occurrences have been reduced by 70%.

MAINTelligence has also provided the following benefits:

  • Tracking and accountability Its easy to ensure scheduled tasks are done on a regular basis.
  • Increased follow-up efficiency The alarms / exceptions are reviewed on a daily basis. Any potential immediate concerns are raised in the daily work control meeting.
  • Central Database for Asset Health Information Comparison and trending with other route data (weekly packing inspections, motor inspections) can be performed on the same platform.
  • Convenience and ease-of-use Operators are no longer required to print, scan or file paperwork.

Fording River MAINTelligence Facts

Fording River started collecting inspection data through MAINTelligence on November 2011
Data collection points established: 10,000
Data collection routes established: 162
Number of work order triggered since 2011: 1304
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