Parts knowledge and availability keeps mining moving
Time is money, according to the saying, and there are few people who know this as well as Damian Kennedy. Damian's Queensland Caboolture-based company Tioicen provides transport solutions to the mining industry Australia-wide and any delays can cost both him and his clients big dollars.
Tioicen's fleet boasts approximately 14 pieces of heavy equipment. Not particularly tied to any one brand, Damian prefers to follow fuel economy, and his current list of prime movers includes a T909 Kenworth, a K108 Kenworth, a 4900 Western Star, a Freightliner Coronado and a Mack Superliner. He's also just taken delivery of a FH16 Volvo and will compare the fuel usage between that and his Mack to identify his next purchase. In addition, Tioicen boasts a Mercedes Sprinter for smaller items, pilot vehicles and Moore trailers and dollies which are often used in road train formation to transport mining components across the country. The main line of work is split between Western Australia and North Queensland, although runs south to Sydney and Geelong are not uncommon.
Downtime is costly in all industries but according to Damian the stakes, and dollars, are higher in mining.
"The mines are committed to paying for the trains, regardless of whether they're full. So if machines are down and they can't get the resource to the train for loading then that costs them millions of dollars," said Damian, who can also be penalised financially due to contractual obligations if a project is delayed.
"It's very important that we are on time so we don't cost the mine even more money. Thankfully we have built a reputation for reliability and our clients know if they need a part or component they will get it as soon as practically possible," he explained.
Having grown up around trucks and trained as a diesel mechanic, Damian knows the key to Tioicen's reliability is keeping the fleet in top condition. Too busy now to do the fleet's maintenance himself, Damian works with a trusted mechanic in Caboolture and has established a strong relationship with local parts dealer Truckline.
"Our local Truckline dealer is absolutely brilliant. They're the best place I've ever sourced parts from. They will source something from anywhere and get it for us in a very timely manner," said Damian, who also praises the local store's value for money and knowledge of his business.
"When it comes to parts I want a good price but I don't want substandard quality and our local Truckline knows that. They'll find me the best value for money part that will last. They understand our priorities and preferences and they know that a breakdown in the middle of WA is not an option for us."
Damian cites oil, filters, air valves and brakes as his fleet's most frequent requirements, most of which are available in-store, but he's also turned to Truckline with trickier requests, including highly specific parts for his oversize vehicles and an engine rebuild kit.
"A rebuild kit is not the run of the mill thing you have on shelves. Truckline sourced one for me, saved me around $4000 and had it here the next day. I was so impressed they went the extra mile instead of just saying 'we don't stock that in our warehouse'," said Damian.
With Tioicen's fleet traversing all states, Damian also values Truckline's national network of stores. Recently one of his drivers needed a fan belt whilst in Kalgoorlie and Damian arranged a replacement part through his usual Truckline Caboolture store. The local staff told the Kalgoorlie branch what was required and arranged all the invoicing, allowing Damian's driver to simply walk in and pick up the part.
"It saves a lot of time when you're not familiar with suppliers in an area," said Damian, "otherwise you're onto Mr Google and you don't know what they're like, whereas if we're in Melbourne, Perth or North Queensland we just ring Truckline and they can help us out."
"Truckline have 100% of our parts. We first started with them simply because they were five minutes down the road and now we've continued because of what they offer us in service, availability and knowledge. The knowledge of the people there is absolutely brilliant," said Damian.
Damian's Top Five Tips for Choosing a Parts Supplier:
- LOCATION: Find a supplier convenient to both your base and where your vehicles run. Sourcing a much-needed part on the road is then as convenient as a phone call to your local supplier to get the part to your vehicle.
- SERVICE: If staff understand your business and the parts they sell you'll get the correct part first time, which leads to less down time and increased profit.
- VALUE FOR MONEY: There's no point buying the cheapest part possible if it doesn't last and costs more in the long run. Equally, there's no use buying the most expensive part if you can get a cheaper equivalent that lasts the same amount of time.
- AVAILABILITY: Your supplier needs to carry a large range on the shelf, quickly access parts that aren't in store and be prepared to hunt around other sources for any unusual requests.
- QUALITY: Inferior parts will cause more downtime and hit your bottom line. You supplier needs to know what to sell and what to steer clear of. A good supplier researches the quality of parts before they start selling them and monitors what is and isn't working for their customers.