Creating a Culture of Business Improvement in a Mining Environment
Without exception, our mining clients agree that a commitment to Business Improvement (BI) or Continuous Improvement is a part of the corporate culture they wish to develop as a means of increasing production, reducing costs, and increasing safety at their mine operation. Over the last six years, Outliers Mining Solutions has been exposed to different models of Business Improvement at our mining clients’ sites. These Business Improvement programs focus on the use of Lean & Six Sigma practices to manage and execute improvement projects effectively.
A common approach we see from our clients in the hopes of creating a culture of Business Improvement is to create one or two roles for senior Business Improvement professionals. This person is typically trained in Lean Six Sigma and has experience executing improvement projects, but is not necessarily experienced in many or all aspects of mine operations. A common problem with this approach is that, in order to be successful, a senior CI professional has to rely on subject matter experts in each work area to assess problems and implement solutions. This creates an environment of dependence from the CI group to the working areas. Oftentimes, this results in frustrating “lone wolf” situations, where one individual is responsible for implementing Business Improvement company-wide, or worse they are seen as an annoyance to those running the day-to-day operations rather than a resource to support Business Improvement. This also does little to build a culture of Business Improvement throughout a business.
Outliers Mining Solutions provides an innovative approach that provides Lean Six Sigma Green Belt training to high-potential employees in all areas of our clients’ business. By providing this training and allowing these individuals to dedicate 10-15% of their work hours to Business Improvement projects, our clients are able to take a ‘Many Hands’ approach where individuals across the business deliver improvement projects in their area of expertise. This approach is considerably faster and has more sustainable results while providing employees valuable professional development. By providing training and mentoring of individuals across all areas of the business, a common culture and language is created within the workplace that focuses on streamlining operations and waste reduction.
Some key benefits of this model for creating a Business Improvement culture in the workplace include:
Creating a culture of understanding.
By selecting high performing individuals across all departments, the messages of Business Improvement are more likely to be understood by other employees. It creates teamwork, trust, and a shared language in each area of expertise.
Understanding Business Improvement is a valuable skill, especially for young professionals. Lean Six Sigma Green Belt training provides a useful framework on how to address issues within any job. It also provides analytical and project management skills that they may not have received in their previous education.
Rapid tangible and measurable results.
In 2016, Outliers Mining Solutions trained and mentored 11 employees in Lean Six Sigma at a large-scale mining environment and saw the following results in separate initiatives:
- Increasing ounce production ranging from 37,000oz to 78,000 ounces per year ($M 44.5-$M 93.6 increase revenue) as a result of a secondary crusher efficiency improvement project
- “Return from Maintenance” delays for 795 trucks were reduced from a pre-implementation baseline of 4.13 hrs/day to a post-implementation average of 0.8hrs/day. This resulted in an additional 3.33 795 truck hours per day. At 600 TPOH this resulted in an annualized increase of 730,000 tonnes per year.
- Expit tonnes per hour during break hours increased from a baseline of 6100 tonnes/hour to a post-implementation average of 6420 tonnes/hour. This resulted in an additional 1,280 tonnes per day (2 breaks per shift). An annualized increase of 467,200 tonnes.
Once there are Lean Six Sigma Green Belts trained across the business, the Senior Business Improvement role becomes focused on coaching and mentoring these Green Belts to deliver sustainable improvements in their areas.
Creating a culture of Business Improvement benefits operations, reduces costs and provides employee satisfaction through professional development.