Tips on Digitising Maintenance Inspections: Learnings from Teck Resources.

Stuart Burckhardt
Chief Executive Officer
May 22, 2023
min read

In 2021, mining giant, Teck Resources in Canada commenced a rollout of OnPlan across three sites. The objective: to commence a journey from paper to 100% digital PM work management. Today, Teck has completed a roll-out of digital inspections in-field and on the shop floor.

We talked to Reliability Specialist, Scott Moore regarding Teck's digitisation journey, including tips on how to get started.

Getting Started  - Tips from Teck

Start Strategically

To ensure fast results, start by reviewing project objectives and the capabilities of your digitisation platform.

“Spend time on functional flows as much as possible in the initial phases, before you start building documents,” said  Moore.

“Assess what you want to record, monitor or access at the asset and work back to the document. You need to pay consideration to how specific trades or individuals are going to work through the function and the associated instruction,” he said.

He recommends that instructions are reviewed and streamlined where necessary before they’re transformed into digital.

Select Your Most Common Equipment First

Moore recommends digitising one model of equipment at a time, and selecting the most important function on the most common equipment first. This boosts return on investment and scale by laying a foundational digital document for similar models.

“We started with welding inspections on haul trucks at Fording River because we anticipated the largest returns here. The opportunity to reduce unknowns by improving visibility and accountability for the welding group was of value due to the sheer risk and cost of catastrophic failure.

Don't Just Import Existing Documents

Tools like OnPlan can import PDF, Excel, or Word documents to be transformed into digital format. While efficient, Scott suggests this may not be the wisest approach in the long run.

“We imported some old instructions and also built materials from scratch so we could get to know how OnPlan worked,” he said.

“As we came to realise, with the digital format, that we weren’t restricted to that physical, one-line paper-based instruction anymore. So, we designed a new, standard document structure for all digital inspections to improve the scale of our transformation to digital and meanwhile, improved the user experience for our trades,” he said.

Standardise Document Format

“We re-structured all digital documents so we could enrich instructions with detail, but still keep it quick and easy to get to work,”said Moore.  

“Now we have a short description at the top of the instruction, with all pass/fails in the next section. We have instructions on what to do if you find a fail, and further detail on each job step available by scrolling further down the screen, in case it’s needed by the user, depending on their experience,” he said.

These templates improve the scale of the digitisation and meanwhile, improves ease of use and adoption for execution teams.

“We continue to enrich instructions with feedback, additional hyperlinked documents and have plans for further interactions, once we have more data captured via OnPlan,” explains Moore.

Keep Paper Copies

Teck continues to output instructions to paper and digital via the OnPlan mobile app.

Moore explains: “We have 350 maintenance personnel per hour on site, 20% of that workforce are on PMs. So, there’s still a chance that shifts will change, introducing someone that’s never seen OnPlan to complete a task.”

“I can’t wait to be 100% digital, but we can’t yet risk the load upon our Supervisors. If someone who hasn’t seen our Mobile App yet turns up for a job, the Supervisor would have all the old problems with paper:finding the right document and coordinating a print.”

"Getting Going"

Teck coordinated classroom training but focused on check-ins with users while in-field when introducing OnPlan to its Technicians.

When presented with digital instructions via Onplan app, several users initially mistook the new digital format for brand-new process, rather than one they were already familiar with.

“I think the new format was enough of a change for the users to take instructions as new, too.We had to ask a few users to think about how they used to approach the task when it was paper-based for them to realise it’s the same as before,” saidMoore.

“The questions that arose when introducing the digital process demonstrated some fairly significant information gaps and variance in how inspections were being completed. We’ve addressed this with more diagrams and detail in our digital instructions.”

You Need to Get Going Before you Get Great

By starting with the most common document first, Teck's team transforming maintenance content could be confident when they’d developed a good quality digital instruction. This also gave them a larger group of users to feedback and refine the first cut of digital materials.

“We got our first set of instructions to 90%, with aim to apply this standard to further documents before we refine our content to 100%,”said Moore.

This includes a commitment to reviewing inspections data captured via OnPlan to identify redundant checks.

“The plan is to identify where we’re capturing the same data every time, to assess the need for that check and remove it from particular routines,” said Moore.

Teck has found the rich historical record and visuals on crack growth at the asset via OnPlan has reduced the instance of unnecessary PMOs.  

“Our welding team has been able to monitor cracks more confidently at the asset so that work can be delayed until the next PMOs cycle, or for a shutdown,” said Moore. 

“In some cases, this saves us significant downtime and work by multiple trades if that crack is in the engine bay, for instance.”

"Getting Great" - Learnings from Teck

Teck has already started to enhance digital inspections and instructions with hyperlinks to manufacturer’s documents.  

This has significantly reduced load upon Supervisors, who have previously had to be ready to respond with what to do upon identifying a failure on a variety of equipment.

Teck also plans build in dual criteria for what is a ‘pre-failure/failure’ mode, so instructions guide the user what to do when an inspection finds what can wait for the next PM cycle, or if it needs to be raised as break-in work.

Enhanced Analytics

The generic logins used during the early stage of the process have been replaced by individualised logins. This provides Teck opportunity to improve analytics across sites, groups, individuals and equipment.

“For instance, we hope to use the data captured by OnPlan to potentially justify investments in new processes or equipment. We’ll also use historical data to input into schedules,” explains Moore.

Improved Control

Even before individualised logins were rolled out to theOnPlan users, Teck Trades

immediately became more accountable for their work in the digital format. In part, this is because Teck is asking for confirmation, or a‘yes’/’no’, ‘accept/reject’, ‘pass/ fail’ for components of a process.

“There’s also a lot less signing off on work if it wasn’t completed by the signatory,” says Moore. “Previously, we’d experience a lot of okays on work which was assumed to be completed. That doesn’t happen anymore with the digital format,” he said. 

The additional data, digitally captured at a user level will help Teck to optimise processes even further.

“We’ll aggregate more user-level information like time on jobs, pass/fail ratios, the rates of identifying cracks to inform scheduling, procurement and training requirements,” he said.


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