Competition is healthy but forming exclusive relationships with equipment manufacturers can deliver tangible business benefits. Rapidly growing mining services provider Rocksure International in Ghana, Africa, has had a 100% Sandvik drill rig fleet since it was established – with spectacular results.
Drill rigs never get an easy life. As if the work they have to do wasn’t hard enough, the environment in which they find themselves often makes a tough job even more arduous. The secret to success is to keep them in tip top condition throughout their working lives.
So, parts – who makes them and the service that comes with them – is of critical importance for these machines.
Manufacturers like Sandvik get this, of course, but increasingly it turns out that customers do too. One of those customers is Ghanaian drilling contractor, Rocksure. By adopting the best work practices and latest premium equipment, the company has gone from two drill rigs and eight employees when it was established in 2009 to today’s fleet of over 20 rigs – and 1,200 workers. Such is Rocksure’s professionalism that it is winning work that was once the preserve of Western multinationals – and winning it entirely on merit. In 2020 Rocksure delivered some 50 million tons of material to its customers in Ghana’s gold fields and is soon to be working on a major bauxite project in the West African country.
Partnership is the new leadership
Part of Rocksure’s strategy is to partner with leading equipment brands, and its fleet now includes 123 pieces of heavy equipment, all from the biggest names in the mining industry. All of its drill rigs are from Sandvik, all of which have been supplied with comprehensive parts, service and training support bundles. For a still relatively young company, that is a statement of ambition, quality and intent.
The predominant machine used by Rocksure is the Sandvik Pantera DP1500i. It is a hydraulic top hammer drill rig designed for production or pre-split drilling in open pit mines, drilling holes with a diameter of 89mm to 152mm (3.5 to 6 inches). The company also has a Sandvik DE881 multipurpose exploration rig.
“We work closely with clients like Rocksure to understand their needs,” says Daniel Korsah, Sandvik Business Line Manager for Surface Drilling in West Africa. “We look at a long list of site variables, including blast efficiency, hole depth, length, type of rock, etc. – and that helps inform the type of equipment we recommend. But that is only half of the story – the aftermarket support package is also vital to customer success.”
“It’s our job to make sure the rigs maintain their productivity targets, reduce costs and help the customer be more profitable,” agrees fellow Business Line Manager Parts & Services, Ricus Terblanche. “To ensure this, we look at the site data and use it to build a comprehensive parts list of the supplies that are likely to be needed. These parts are then ordered in conjunction with the machine sale, and both delivered to site at the same time. For major projects we can put large parts stocks in place, from which Rocksure can draw using a vendor-managed inventory approach. But our support bundles are much more than parts and include machine operation- and safety training. We would never sell a machine unless we were sure the customer could operate it effectively and safely and had the skills and resources to support it.”
On the job support
A recent sale of Sandvik Pantera DP1500i machines saw Sandvik support Rocksure with a four-week intensive classroom and practical operator and technical (maintenance) training, along with three months of asset support. This involves highly skilled technicians being on site 100% of the full time, providing on-the-job coaching and inspections to ensure the rigs are operating to their highest potential.
It’s not just Rocksure that benefits from its close relationship with Sandvik, Rocksure’s customers do too. Rocksure’s clients demand that premium brands are used on their mines, and that they only use original manufacturer parts. Rocksure’s own operators become experts in getting the best out of the rigs, with its technicians being experts in maintaining them. There are also pricing advantages to be gained from making such a commitment.
Predictive parts replacement
Ghana is known for its beauty, but it is also tropically wet and hot, with temperatures in the high 30s for most of the year. Even the best hardworking machines tire, and Sandvik’s service experts are on hand to rejuvenate them. Using Smart Inspections supported by years of accumulated analysis on component lifespan, Sandvik can calculate predictive operating costs and recommend a parts replacement service policy before parts fail. Typically, when the machine has reached 14,000 hours of operation, the Sandvik Pantera DP1500i’s operated by Rocksure undergo a comprehensive overhaul, which can include the installation of new engines, pumps, track frames and undercarriage parts. Adding new technology can bring the machines to a better-than-new condition, with a significant reduction in fuel consumption. The fitting of new monitoring systems also helps to give much greater visibility of drilling performance – data that can further help boost productivity.
“Rocksure is the perfect customer,” says Terblanche. “They are professional, experts in their local market and loyal towards Sandvik – as well as growing at a fantastic rate. We do our best to support them with all the tools at our disposal to maximize their production performance. It’s a great partnership – when Rocksure is successful, Sandvik is too. A local mining services supplier supported by a global equipment manufacturer is a winning combination.”
Sandvik Mining & Rock Technology