When Outokumpu Technology set up its Australian Service Centre four years ago, a global resource boom wasn’t even on the radar. But with the Centre trebling in size by 2006, the company is now well placed to provide world-class skills to enhance the efficiency of its customers’ plants.Operating from bases in Sydney and Perth, the Service Centre has been structured to provide vital skills at a time of unprecedented demand for them, says its Manager, Jason King. With a core establishment of two dozen staff, supported by expertise from Outokumpu’s operations worldwide, the Centre is focused on key service areas including preventative maintenance, upgrades, spare parts management and excellence in training and safety.“Our service skills span the spectrum, from process audits and optimization, through to the application of proper maintenance skills and spares management. We have developed a solid track record in installation/shutdown supervision, as well as some upgrade and modernization projects involving turnkey design and construction work where that is of benefit to our customers.“Where our customers have a service need, we can do much more than supply technology and parts – we can install, supervise, commission and also handle vital ancillary work such as foundations, piping, structural, plant cut-in and electrical installation. At a time where our industry is searching for resources, Outokumpu is stepping up to the plate and offering more and more assistance” he said.The latest step in the multi-million dollar investment in the Service Centre came with the recent opening of a new Service Facility in Kewdale, Perth. This is equipped to inspect and overhaul equipment, perform tests on behalf of customers, complete pre-assembly work and consolidate spares deliveries for West Australian customers.Reflecting the rapid response requirements of the business, the Kewdale facility has sea containers packed with supplies and tools ready to roll for install and overhaul projects. “We are equipped to apply expertise wherever we are needed, and aim to be available whenever we are needed,” says KingWith many companies urgently seeking to outsource roles previously managed on site, Outokumpu Technology presents a wealth of experience and expertise in areas such as comminution, flotation, thickening, analysers, automation and physical separation. Service Centre teams focus on specific areas of need, including: spares, service, customer training, audits and optimisation, and upgrade and modernization projects.Our programmes focus on areas where plants, processes and personnel skills can be improved to promote greater profitability, reduced risk of breakdowns, increased technology life, increased safety and motivated plant personnel,” says King.” Our series of regional training seminars, for example, are now backed by on-site, customized training programmes. These utilize training material with practical benefits proven in the field. A number of sites are now employing this resource so plant managers can get the best from new staff, while also demonstrating to their new recruits a commitment to ongoing training. Regular training ensures not only optimum operation, but also results in motivated staff – a key consideration in today’s labour market”The Centre’s field and process engineers in Sydney and Perth are available for troubleshooting, inspection, breakdown assistance, regular preventative maintenance, calibration and other vital ongoing tasks. All Outokumpu’s site supervisors undergo workplace health and safety officer training, ensuring appropriate OH&S qualification to handle supervision of site shutdowns.The Service Centre’s Spares Department has introduced initiatives such as site-specific spares list management to facilitate streamlined inventory control. “Some sites do not have easy access to accurate parts information, which can present unnecessary challenges, sometimes resulting in wrong parts being ordered. Feedwell retrofit by the Service Centre on a 30-m thickener at Cannington“Some spares, particularly those with long lead times, are critical to preventing prolonged downtime. Our ongoing cataloguing service means any site can request and receive from us a fully detailed spares list, with lead time and pricing for all available parts. With this information, maintenance managers can assess any operational risks associated with lead times for replacement components. Site-specific spares lists assist maintenance planners with comprehensive inventory control and ensure prompt supply of genuine OEM spare parts” says King.