Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the mining industry typically face a number of key challenges when it comes to sourcing and procuring quality components and assemblies.

From suppliers failing to deliver parts on time, to a lack of consistency around compliance and quality control of components, and limitations when it comes to improving or upgrading ageing products, there can be many reasons why OEMs often struggle to maintain a supply of high-quality parts while also ensuring their costs are kept low.

This is where Castech Solutions steps in. With its ability to mobilise a wide network of qualified manufacturing partners (MPs) in low-cost countries, the Australia-based company promises to deliver what many of its competitors can’t: quality castings, forgings and fabrications for mining equipment at highly competitive prices.

Better quality parts, lower end of life costs

“By having a broad suite of MPs in huge manufacturing bases, we have access to some important manufacturing processes that may not be available or known locally to some OEMs,” says Allen Vaughan, Castech’s general manager. “This tends to translate into better quality parts and lower end of life costs for manufacturers”.

OEMs in the mining sector may already understand that quality components and products can be bought more cheaply in lower cost markets. However, for most of these companies, taking the time to find suppliers that are suitable and reliable, and that can provide parts that are the right specification and of high enough quality for a certain project, is simply not an option. Indeed, convenience and uncertainty are key reasons why some manufacturers end up paying over the odds for parts from local suppliers.

At Castech, the company’s twinned processes of sourcing and pre-qualifying manufacturers ensure that MPs in lower cost countries maintain a high level of integrity. Customers can therefore be confident that their products are high quality. A score-based system is used to provide in-depth analysis of various aspects of a manufacturer’s performance including: its productivity; the maintenance standards of its equipment and facilities; its commitments in areas like health and safety, training and management. A final score is then attributed to each supplier based on its capability to deliver.

This scoring system for MPs, combined with Castech’s inspection processes for products coming from low cost countries, means that quality is never compromised and the service for customers remains consistent. “For both the process and the product we know how to inspect and what to inspect,” says Vaughan.

“We ensure our partners produce end-to-end documentation that considers the end user’s requirements and that appropriate quality controls – like PDS, MDS, heat treatments, drawings and other specific procedures – are in place. We ensure that every inspection is specified, which is a key point of difference from our competitors and why we’re successful.”

Plugging the knowledge gap

Another challenge facing the industry is the perception that manufacturers in lower cost countries may be less knowledgeable, or less technically proficient, than counterparts in more developed markets. Castech tackles any knowledge gaps by transferring technical expertise to its MPs when they start working with them, for example by helping foundries to produce products that meet the expectations of mature casting buyers. In particular, Castech will assist with the manufacture of parts that are more technically difficult to create, or that come with a higher degree of risk should they fail in service.

Vaughan adds: “Our 20 years of experience managing the manufacture of cast, forged and fabricated products means that we’ve seen many failures. As a result, we can often avoid parts failing in the future because we’ve seen something similar in the past and can spot the warning signs.”