Why PumpEng Pump Hire Works Best For Redpath

Alex Wheeler is the Project Manager for Redpath at a Queensland underground zinc and lead mine. In this interview, he discusses the switchover from buying mine dewatering pumps to using the PumpEng hire approach.

PumpEng - Underground Pumps

Can you describe your site there and your role?

The site is Dugald River. It is a large underground zinc and lead mine near Cloncurry. My role is Project Manager for Redpath, undertaking all the underground tunnelling work for the client.

In the past, you’ve purchased pumps or handled the servicing in-house or offsite, but recently you switched to the PumpEng hire model combined with The PumpEng Way of continuous improvement.


What were the factors that led you to make that change?

The cost of buying the pumps outright was becoming increasingly hard to justify in order for us to get CapEx approval to continue purchasing them. We identified that the life we were getting from the pumps didn’t justify their outright purchase. We were intrigued by the idea of moving towards the rental option. It would reduce the onsite labour required to fix the pumps and our capital expenditure for the project.

Was the continuous improvement methodology a factor in your decision-making?

Yes. We engaged in a competitive tender process before we swapped over to PumpEng. The service we got from PumpEng was a big part of what we took into account. We liked a few of the improvements that PumpEng had come up with, like the JetGuard pumps and the full metal pump interior. This is a great help in dealing with our Fibercrete fibres that damage the pumps in underground sumps. They caused us issues in the past. The PumpEng full-metal wet end of the pump helped solve many of those problems. All these factors contributed to our decision to go for the PumpEng pump hire strategy.

Were there any other obstacles you had to overcome to take the hiring approach inside your business?

No, not particularly. The business was happy with the arrangement because the capital outlay for purchasing pumps was so high, especially on these big projects where we were required to run 30 and 40 pumps at a time. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are involved in buying that number of pumps outright. The business was happy to swap over to the hiring methodology.

Can you tell me what lessons have been learned from this hiring approach?

We’ve been very happy with receiving consistent monthly invoices with no surprises. We’re all on the understanding of the fair wear and tear policy. We’re only going to see large repair bills for willful damage and any damage caused by fibre entering the wrong pump. That’s been easy for us on site, having that consistency and knowing what we’ll be charged each month.

Were there any other advantages you weren’t expecting?

We get the guys to come out and audit the pumping infrastructure for us as well. They ensure that we’ve got the correct pumps where we need them and that the pumps we are using are fit for the purpose we’re using them. There’ll be more benefits that will come from that process in the short term.

What type of feedback are you getting from your team on the site about the pumps and their performance?

The feedback has been good. We’re getting good life out of the hire pumps, and it is valuable having that steady stream of pumps coming back to the site that we can use when we need them. It’s been really good. I know the maintenance team has been happy that they don’t have to maintain these pumps. The electricians are happy too. Being able to put them on a truck when they’re out of service is convenient. Then we receive a new one back to get things going again. That’s been handy. We are freeing up maintenance people who would usually spend their time repairing these pumps.

Do you have any plans to expand your hire fleet?

Yes, certainly. The business is moving towards this methodology of hiring a fleet of pumps over purchasing outright. I see it expanding using that approach.

If you’re talking to someone on another mine site who hadn’t tried this kind of dewatering pump hire approach, what would you say to them?

I’d definitely recommend trying out PumpEng’s pump hire. It’s certainly the more beneficial approach to managing your pumping fleet onsite.

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