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Implementing PDA Inspection Rounds with Asset Basic Care At Barrick Goldstrike Mine


Barrick's Goldstrike mining complex, located on the Carlin Trend in northeastern Nevada, is a large gold mining operation employing 1,600 people. This paper will cover some of the goals, objectives and results associated with the mine site's implementation of an Asset Basic Care program using electronic handhelds.

Asset Basic Care programs use operations, maintenance and/or lubrication staff to physically inspect and verify the operating condition of work areas, processes, and fixed/mobile assets. Some of the topics that will be covered in this paper include:

  • What is Asset Basic Care?
  • How Does Asset Basic Care Assist in Work Identification At Barrick Goldstrike?
  • Tools and technology for automating Asset Basic Care.

Introduction to Barrick Goldstrike

Barrick is a leading international gold mining company, with a portfolio of 26 operating mines and seven advanced exploration and development projects located across four continents, and a large land position on the world's best exploration belts. Barrick has the largest reserves in the industry, 139 million ounces as at December 31, 2005. For 2006, the Company is targeting gold production of 8.6 million ounces and copper production of approximately 370 million pounds. Total cash costs are expected to be about $285 per ounce of gold and about tiny_.80 per pound of copper.

Goldstrike is the Company's flagship property, with gold reserves at year-end 2005 of over 16 million ounces and two producing mines: The Betze-Post open pit operation and the Meikle/Rodeo underground operation. For the last decade, Goldstrike has contributed about 2 million ounces to Barrick's annual production, and is still the Company's largest producer, and reached the 30 millionth ounce produced in 2006.

There are two major industrial processes in use at Barrick Goldstrike:

Mining: Gold ore is mined from both open pit and underground operations using traditional mining methods. Ore is hauled to the processing area and stored in stockpiles for later use.

Processing: Ore from the stockpiles is crushed and then ground in mills and further processed using autoclave and roasting processes.

Figure 1 Goldstrike Property

What Is Asset Basic Care?

Asset Basic Care is a commitment by the operations and maintenance staff to ensure that assets maintain their expected level of quality and volume for output, while reaching their expected lifespan.

Asset Basic Care greatly reduces and/or eliminates reactive maintenance by implementing procedures to ensure that assets are:

  • Properly configured with all specified guards, safety devices and environmental protection.
  • Operating within proper parameters (i.e. acceptable temperature / pressure / flow rate etc).
  • Protected from dirt, water and other sources of contamination.
  • Checked for seals operating properly (no leaks of lubricant or process fluids).
  • Receiving the correct type and amount of lubricant as per the lubrication schedule.

These procedures are all carried out in a thorough asset care regimen. The investigative part of this regimen also attempts to catch incipient problems by monitoring assets for both visual (qualitative) and measurable (quantitative) indications of change.

Along with the inspection processes of the program, an Asset Basic Care process focuses on education of the operators, the lubrication staff and the maintenance/reliability staff. Asset Basic Care puts high emphasis on both operator managed inspection programs and lubrication management efforts.

Asset Basic Care and Work Identification

An evaluation of work identification throughout the mine revealed the need to improve work identification in the Goldstrike process area.

Typically, work is identified in 4 ways:

  • Breakdown work (unscheduled),
  • PM work (time based /scheduled)
  • Condition based - Predictive
  • Condition based - Sensory

At the time of the evaluation, the distribution of each of these four types of work identification was as follows:

  • Breakdown work (unscheduled) 15%
  • PM Work (time-based) 65%
  • Condition Based - Predictive 10%
  • Condition Based - Sensory 10%

The decision was made to try to increase the amount of work identified by condition based-sensory inspections. It was determined that inspection-based work identification of unscheduled maintenance was the best approach.

Evaluating Automated Asset Basic Care

Once it was decided to try to increase the identification of work through increased inspections, it was necessary to review the existing inspection process.

Figure 2 Work Identification

At the time, the plant was using paper based equipment inspections. These inspections were usually completed on schedule. However, using the information from these inspections as a tool for work identification and triggering corrective work orders was fairly difficult. The paper forms were hard to sort through. Often, the needed form would be stacked deep on the inspection clipboard, and so finding the noted exceptions was either impossible or took a considerable amount of time.

There is no question that inspection procedures can be carried out using paper check-sheets. However, it was felt that implementing the inspection rounds using an automated approach would resolve the problem of incomplete work identification.

The benefits of automated inspection rounds are:

  • Implementing Asset Basic Care programs are easier and more efficient.
  • Increases the accuracy and consistency of collected data.
  • Immediate feedback is available to the operators when assessing the asset.
  • Exceptions are indicated immediately to maintenance and reliability staff.

Therefore, the decision was made to implement an electronic operator inspection program using handheld data collectors.

The primary goal of collecting the data electronically is to capture this data into a searchable database automatically, without having the need for data entry from the paper inspection forms. This would allow the information collected from inspections to be sorted and flagged as exceptions, and used to immediately generate corrective work orders.

Implementing Automated Asset Basic

The database was installed on a network server so it could be accessed at several different work stations. A person was selected to be the system administrator and assigned the following responsibilities:

  • Setting up the inspection routes,
  • Creating the inspection specifications in the database,
  • Installing barcode tags on the appropriate assets,
  • Training operators & supervisors in use of the system,
  • Ongoing management and support of the inspection database.
  • The execution of an Asset Basic Care program involves the following steps (Figure 3).
  • Schedule the inspections for a time period.
  • Carry out the inspections in a timely manner.
  • Generate and deliver a list of noted exceptions.
  • Notify all participants about any exceptions found during the inspections.
  • Schedule and conduct any remedial action needed to eliminate the exceptions.

The program administrator is responsible for ensuring that the management support needed to execute these procedures is available.

Figure 3 - Inspection Cycle

Barcodes versus Routes

The decision was made to scan barcodes at each inspection point. Scanning the barcode automatically records the identification of the operator, and the time and date stamp of when the inspection is completed. This is helpful for regulatory compliance. When an operator walks up and scans the barcode, the corresponding inspection is brought up on the data collector. Most of our inspections are "checklist" type inspections, which show a series of checkboxes on the screen (Figure 4). These inspection forms lead the operator through an inspection of that particular piece of equipment or area. Temperatures, levels, pressures, etc. can also be recorded.

Each operator is required to "sign in" to the data collector before starting a route, to ensure that the operator id is properly recorded when an inspection is carried out.

Figure 4 - Checklist Inspection

Figure 5 - Data Collector and Bar Code Label

Program Startup

During the program startup, inspections were created in the database and training was completed for operators. Barcodes were placed in the field at inspection points (figure 6). Each operator was guided through his/her routes for the first few times. After the training, these operators then took over responsibility for their own routes.

Routes are created in the database and then downloaded to the handhelds. After routes are collected the data is uploaded back to the database. At the end of each shift, the shift supervisor runs an exception report for the inspections completed during the shift. Based on this report, he inputs the work orders into the maintenance management system to be put on the backlog for scheduling.


Initially, the implementation of this system was not well received. Operators looked at the program as a way for the company to keep track of them. Also, it was felt that the handhelds were designed to make them get out in the field and work harder.

We have had instances of the barcodes disappearing. In one case all of the barcodes were removed and taken in the control room for easy and quick scanning. But what they did not realize is the time stamp gave them away - they had completed a 2-hour inspection in less than 5 minutes.

Despite this resistance, the company has shown a commitment to the program and employee acceptance has improved.

Figure 6 - Sag Mill Inspection Point


With implementation of the program in the pilot area at our Wet Mill process, we have seen an increase in work orders generated from operator inspections. The average for this area has been about 80-100 new work orders identified per month from the electronic inspections. This change equates to a 10% increase in sensory-condition based work orders, from which we can expect a 5% reduction in breakdown work and a 5% shift from time based to condition based work (figure 7).

Figure 7 - Work ID Improvement Change

For more information about the strategies and technologies in this article please contact Steve Reilly or visit

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