Unlocking the Achievable Potential of Your Mining Project
Having spent many years working within mining, processing, and logistics operations, I can fully appreciate the importance of getting the right information at the right time and to the right people. In mining, a lot of value can be achieved through proper planning and scheduling. These processes will set the stage in which operations evolve on a shift-by-shift basis. We then rely on our frontline operators, supervisors, and dispatchers, to make fast-paced decisions with the information they are provided, with the goal of getting the most out of the equipment in the given context. In fact, getting the most out of the equipment is key here, and surprisingly, it is not always obvious what “the most” actually is:
- Did we meet the mine plan target for the day? If so, that’s great! But could we have done more? How much more?
- What if we didn’t meet the mine plan objectives? Was the planned equipment available? Did we run out of blasted inventory? Did we still perform well with what we had in hand?
The Outliers Performance Management Toolkit (PMT) and the Short Interval Control (SIC) tool, helps mining operations teams by providing real-time information and insights to frontline staff to make sure that they take the best decisions and adequate corrective actions at any given time during the shift.
Focus on operational and evolving targets
To me, what makes the tool stand out the most is the way it focuses on operational and evolving targets to assess loading and hauling performance. Targets are entered directly into the tool for every part of the load and haul cycles and for every delay or standby code, based on historical data and commonly set goals.
The operational performance is then compared to these targets and the corresponding difference in tons gained or lost is calculated. The focus is always on what is controllable during the shift. For example, no matter if planned loading equipment breaks down or if the availability of haul trucks is lower than expected, the SIC tool will always show what is achievable in the current context and where the main gaps are. It will help define what “the most” is whatever the context. For operations, this helps pinpoint areas of improvement and guide corrective actions. It also keeps the teams motivated in situations where the plan could not be achieved even if performance was good. For planners, the SIC tool targets can be used to fine-tune the load and haul fleet capacity and provide more precise forecasts.
Finally, for management, the tool provides answers to the three following questions:
- Were we in a position to meet the plan?
- Did we perform well in the operational context we were in?
- What key drivers should we focus on to improve the performance of our load and haul fleet?
Collaboration for pit foremen and dispatchers
Outliers also offers a mobile version of its SIC tool, targeted at field supervisors. This tool shows similar data to the regular SIC, in a more condensed form. This is a great collaboration tool for pit foremen and dispatchers. Both roles have a very different point of view of what is happening, one being on the field in front of the equipment and the other working remotely with more of a broader view of the mine.
By looking at the same data, field supervisors and dispatchers can more easily understand each other and come up with solutions to specific problems. This reduces finger-pointing and increases accountability on both ends, leading to a more positive workplace and improved productivity of the mining fleet. This is increasingly important today with more and more mine sites moving to an IOC or IROC operating model, where dispatchers and field supervisors are sitting even further apart. The SIC and mobile SIC are great examples of technology designed around people, fully in line with Outliers’ people-centric approach to Integrated Operations.
Having access to these tools in my former leadership role in an IROC team would have certainly improved the performance of our dispatch and site operations teams. It would have also helped channel continuous improvement and operational excellence efforts in the right areas much faster. In the end, it’s all about unlocking the achievable potential of your load and haul fleet at any time and in any situation.
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