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Maintainers at BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) Caval Ridge Mine wash plant will no longer be exposed to rotating machinery during filter press repairs thanks to a new solution developed through BHP’s Supplier Innovation Program.

In June 2020, BHP launched the Supplier Innovation Program – a program designed to make it easier for companies from the Mining Equipment, Technology & Services (METS) sector to work with BHP, while providing access to a broader range of unique and innovative solutions to business problems.

The program was launched in partnership with leading METS representative body Austmine, and follows a model that has operated successfully in our Minerals Americas business for the last decade.

The Fixed Plant Maintenance team at Caval Ridge engaged the program to help solve a key business challenge, by finding a safer way to perform maintenance on the filter presses that remove moisture from coal rejects at the wash plant.

This challenge garnered interest from 235 suppliers across Australia, with 21 providing Expressions of Interest (EOIs). Through a series of interactive online workshops with representatives from the vendors, Caval Ridge, the Procurement Partners Innovation team and Austmine, nine companies were short-listed to present formal proposals.

In January, Australian-owned Jord International was awarded a contract to work hand-in-hand with the maintenance team at Caval Ridge to pilot their solution.

James Agar, Group Procurement Officer, said the Supplier Innovation Program enabled BHP to crowd-source a broader range of unique and innovative solutions to business challenges.

“With filter press belt replacements, it is a time consuming task with lots of manual handling. While there are processes in place to control the risks around that task, the new solution proposed through this innovation program eliminates the need for maintainers to be in physical contact with the filter press altogether,’’ James said.

The first belt installer will be in use by July, with the pilot to run for six months. If successful the new approach will be implemented permanently at Caval Ridge, and potentially at other BMA sites using filter presses to remove moisture from coal rejects.

Kevin Barber of Jord International, said, “The (Supply Innovation Program) process was very open with feedback shared and accepted by both parties. It has been a great opportunity to be engaged in solving a problem that you would otherwise not have been aware of.”

Craig Samuel, Jord Senior Design Engineer, stated, “Creating a safer environment is the pinnacle of an engineer’s ethos and it’s incorporated in everything we design,”

Amanda O’Conner, Acting Vice President Procurement Excellence, said “We look forward to partnering with Jord to implement a successful solution eliminating safety risks and ensuring our people go home safe every day.”

The Procurement Innovation & Community team is currently developing another six Supply Innovation Program challenges across Minerals Australia, with the goal of announcing more pilot contracts in coming months. Plans exist to expand the Program to address 20 challenges in FY22.

Visit the Austmine website to learn more about opportunities for suppliers to register with BHP’s Supplier Innovation Program. 

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