Fewzion is an integrated mine planning software that helps to improve productivity and safety by creating a single plan for everyone on site.

Short Interval control app

The three ingredients of a Short Interval Control (SIC) sandwich

The team at Commit Works have been implementing Short Interval Control (SIC) systems for over 20 years in mines, workshops, factories and even an insurance company.

The central idea behind SIC is that when supervisors are more AWARE of how their process is performing during the shift, then they will be able to ACT to keep the process on course to hit its target each shift.

This is a simple idea, right? All you do is get supervisors to check at regular intervals throughout their shift if they are on target and to act to improve the situation if they find they are off track. In reality, however, the success of SIC depends on multiple factors.

What’s in the Short Interval Control sandwich?

Whether it’s mining or another industry, there are three key ingredients that go into Short Interval Control – we call it the SIC sandwich.

  • The top piece of bread should be an agreed and a realistic frontline plan for all work that the supervisor is responsible for.
  • In the centre (the filling) is the tool supervisors or crew use to record (in short intervals) whether they are on track or not.
  • On the bottom is the method for knowing how much ore, cubic metres, drill metres, work orders, widgets or insurance claims have been moved or completed at points throughout the shift.

Each of these elements makes the supervisor more AWARE of the performance of their process compared to the agreed plan for the shift. Given this awareness, the supervisor must then ACT appropriately to bring the process back into control and ideally describe what actions they took in a shift report.

The top of the SIC sandwich is the frontline planning and scheduling (or work management) system, which takes plans from systems like SAP, Deswik, Xact, MS Project, rosters, and leave and service schedules and makes them into a coordinated plan that can be committed to and executed on the shift. In most operations this is done via spreadsheets and whiteboards.

The centre (sandwich filling) has, for a long time, been A3 sheets of paper for supervisors to complete at two- or three-hourly intervals during a shift. In general, supervisors dislike these tools with a passion and seldom complete them properly or sustain them after consultants have left. More recently, some major mining firms have attempted to build software tools that supervisors can use in the field. These have been fraught with usability and connection issues, which have prevented most of them from being successful.

The bread on the bottom used to be provided through paper truck counts or radio calls but, more recently, has relied on fleet management systems (FMS) to give up-to-date information about the measurable raw tonnes, metres, cubic metres etc. coming off each machine. To be successful, the data needs to get from machines to the supervisor quickly. In a small opencast mine this can be achieved by the supervisor standing on the highwall observing operations; in a complex underground mine it could require a well-designed system of sensors, tags and communications infrastructure.

Why most Short Interval Control sandwiches fail

In our experience, most SIC sandwiches don’t work because of weakness in the top two layers.

Without a reasonable and agreed shift plan, the crew doesn’t have realistic targets to aim for, so there is no point breaking those targets up into smaller intervals to track against. “But”, you say, “we have the weekly plan (from Deswik, EPS or Xact etc.) which sets the targets.” Dividing a weekly production plan target into 14 even shifts is a convenient and easy shortcut to take but is destined for failure because it doesn’t take into account the variability in the workplace (conditions, maintenance, sick leave etc.) that the supervisor has to cope with.

Dividing the week up into shifts without taking all the other work and conditions into account means the supervisor and crew will never have a plan that actually makes sense on their shift – some shifts will have low targets and others will have unachievable targets, there will be services or sequence work that needs to be done and machines will need to be maintained, making the plan impossible.

Send a crew to work over and over again with a plan that doesn’t make sense and it’s likely they will lose respect for the plan (and their leaders) and choose to do things their own way.

Making SIC work

The holy grail of SIC is to have a single system that enables you to bring all planning information into an integrated shift plan that can be agreed at weekly and daily commitment meetings. This plan can then be:

  • reviewed, adapted and committed to before the crew go to work
  • used to assign work to people
  • used to brief the crew at pre-starts/line-ups.

The same system can either print or deliver the plan to supervisors or crew on a phone or tablet at the face, and throughout the shift the work being done can be “closed off” in short intervals so that the control room, general foreman, shift boss, undermanager etc. and planners know that the right work is getting done.

This can integrate with fleet management systems to bring real-time data back to the supervisor through a tool, or regular radio calls can be made to check in on progress. At the end of shift, the supervisor and crew will have closed out most of the tasks and already written most of their shift report in the app, so a quick conversation around a touchscreen is enough to close out the shift.

All the data collected ends up in simple reports for use in daily review meetings to identify variances and plan corrective actions. This data is then available to business improvement people for analysis and continuous improvement work.

Commit Works has the only enterprise-quality system that makes this possible. It can be set up and implemented on your site in a matter of weeks and fits easily into operational expense budgets.

Global examples

Anglo Dawson OC, whiteboard daily planning meeting to set targets for the shift, paper based A3 SIC sheets, radio calls to each machine and supervisor at 3 hour intervals to say whether they were on plan or not.

Glencore Sudbury, UG Nickel mine planning development sequence work and tracking actuals from the face using an offline app.

Rio Kestrel, Fewzion work management planning system, crib room PC for entering actuals data, view of SCADA system and work orders from trades to tell how shift was progressing.

Anglo, Zibulo – Fewzion work management system, underground WiFi phones with a Fewzion SIC App to record actuals at the face.

Paul Moynagh - Commit Works CEO

Paul Moynagh appointed CEO of Commit Works – Fewzion

Commit Works – Fewzion today announced that it has appointed Paul Moynagh as Chief Executive Officer. Co-Founder and current CEO Alex Retzlaff will continue to serve as Chief Technical Officer and Executive Chairman of the Commit Works Board of Directors.

Commit Works is a global leader in frontline planning and short interval control software that empowers high trust, high commitment organisations through the implementation of a commitment system to create and sustain these behaviours.

Former President of Bechtel’s Mining & Metals business and Commit Works board member Andy Greig said that Commit Works is a transformational technology company that has pioneered a new age in frontline work management by making it possible for frontline teams to express and deliver on the commitments they make to each other in daily work plans.

“We are thrilled to have Paul as our CEO. The next five years are going to be extraordinary for the company, and I have no doubt that the greatest impact of Commit Works on the world is yet to come,” he said.

Retzlaff added that he and Moynagh have been on this journey together for over four years.

“Paul’s experience growing the business and working with partners is what we need to take us into the future as we help large organisations out plan uncertainty with our visual work management and short interval control tools. Paul is going to help us take Commit Works – Fewzion to the next level. His passion for delivering results, serving customers at a global scale, and his authentic team player attitude make him the right person for the job,” said Retzlaff.

“I am incredibly excited and honoured to lead the Commit Works team,” said Moynagh. “We have that rare combination of a passionate customer base, leading products, amazingly talented people and momentum in the market. Our company is facilitating the convergence of Information and Operational Technology to fill the gap between Enterprise Resource Planning systems and fleet, SCADA and Internet of Things (IoT) systems. This gap is where supervisors and most employees work and sadly, right now most go to work without a good plan to lead their teams with. Commit Works is changing this for a growing number of the largest organisations on the globe.”

Moynagh is passionate about shaking up the spreadsheets, whiteboards and paper that lean and six sigma consultants have plastered the walls with over the last 30 years. He believes that it is time frontline supervisors and leaders had tools that are both fat finger friendly and drive the right management and leadership behaviours with integrated frontline planning and the plan, do, check, act cycle.

“As we add capabilities for our customers, deepen our enterprise presence, and expand into the cloud, our mission remains unchanged: to help people out plan uncertainty at the frontline of major operations and in doing so help them deliver sustained, reliable production improvements to their shareholders,” Moynagh explained.

Alex Retzlaff will remain actively involved in the company as CTO and Chairman of the Board of Directors. He will continue to assist the company by driving the technology agenda and making sure our users have great experiences with the software. Retzlaff has served as Fewzion’s CEO for 4 years and helped conceive of and build the system in collaboration with clients from the ground up.

“We’re just getting started in our journey,” said Retzlaff. “Commit Works has the capability to become the standard for how people know what work to do each day and whether this work is getting done. In helping people with this, we are growing into a globally recognised technology brand. With the company’s scale and success to date, we have the opportunity to broaden our leadership team as we continue to impress customers and to build the company.”

In conjunction with this announcement, Commit Works will host a conference call on Wednesday 7th June with Paul Moynagh. A live audio webcast and replay of the call will be available in the News section of the Commit Works website.

About Commit.Works

Commit Works – Fewzion makes software that helps operations out plan uncertainty by getting all their people working together on the same page. 40% of the world’s largest mining firms use Fewzion to improve production at their operational coal face and to help deliver massive capital projects ahead of schedule and under budget.

Commit Works, Fewzion and Visual Ops are trademarks of Commit Works Systems. All other company and product names may be trademarks of the respective companies with which they are associated.