Rio Tinto has signed a five-year maintenance services and support agreement for its locomotive network in the Pilbara with global company GE.
GE has claimed the agreement is an entirely new concept to the Australian market and heralds an era of closer supplier relations.
It also believes its expertise in locomotive servicing will enable faster access to material and parts, reducing downtime and enhancing fleet reliability.
GE will manage the supply chain of locomotive parts, with guarantees to maintain the inventory required to service Rio's fleet.
GE will also have a technician based at each of Rio's workshops, with direct access to GE's propriety systems and knowledge to assist and upskill Rio's staff, who will retain accountability for the execution of maintenance activities.
Dwight Van Roy, chief executive of GE Transportation in Australia and New Zealand, said the partnership was a unique industry collaboration.
“Working inside Rio Tinto’s maintenance workshops in Karratha and Cape Lambert, we’ll have direct line-of-sight to daily operations, and be able respond right away to issues and advise in areas we can optimise,” Mr Van Roy said in a statement.
“As a long-time manufacturer and operator of high-performance locomotives, GE is able to combine extensive product knowledge with supply chain management experience to add value to Rio Tinto's operations.”
Rio Tinto rail maintenance general manager Jen Mackenzie said the partnership was possible because of the strong levels of trust that has been built between GE and Rio Tinto through years of working together.
“As we move into a new era for commodities, this type of business model will allow us both to focus on areas where we can deliver the most value,” she said.
Rio’s Pilbara network is the largest privately-owned and operated rail system in Australia.