Keeping the wheels turning in the Pilbara

A comprehensive Bridgestone support centre officially opened in November in Port Headland, reducing freight costs and providing a range of services to keep the wheels turning at BHP Billiton’s Western Australia Iron Ore (WAIO) operations. Following years of close collaboration between BHP Billiton’s regional supply and operations teams, and the GCM tyre teams, the new Pilbara Solutions Centre offers vendor inventory management (VMI) and logistics, tyre repairs, rim and wheel refurbishments, and field engineering and training.

Daniel Sharpe, Yandi Maintenance Manager, says the Centre is a great step forward. “The Pilbara Solutions Centre has great potential benefit for WAIO with immediately visible positives including a robust QA and safety focused wheel and rim repair facility. There’s also the potential to reduce road train traffic from Perth to the Pilbara, thanks to future vendor managed inventory (VMI) models.”

The Centre’s proximity to WAIO mine sites is a major logistical advantage.

Tyres for Western Australia Iron Ore are currently shipped to Fremantle (approximately 30 km from Perth) then freighted 1,200 km by road to its warehouses and mines in the Pilbara. Now, the tyres can be unloaded at the Centre in Port Hedland reducing the road trip to operations to 300-400 km. Localised tyre repairs will also bring significant savings.

A high number of tyre failures on earthmoving haul trucks occur in the Pilbara due to rock cut damage to the tread or sidewall. Each tyre on the main haul fleet costs approximately A$35,000 while the average cost of repair is expected to be below A$3,500.

With a repair service available regionally, tyres can be repaired quickly and returned to operation within a much shorter timeframe.

The Centre will also refurbish wheels and rims. Wheel refurbishments are a critical control and consistently monitored by risk owners and the WAIO GTS/engineering teams.

It’s also likely to lead to higher standards of wheel maintenance and increased intervals before requiring rims/wheels to be tested for cracks and other damage, which means greater truck availability.

With Bridgestone field engineers now located regionally, the speed of product development is also expected to increase.

Another significant advantage is access to training. As a nationally recognised registered training organisation, Bridgestone Earthmoving Tyres Australia will provide training to new personnel and upskill the existing workforce.