Reduce variability to improve productivity

Most resource sector operations can significantly improve their performance by improving the coordination and productivity of frontline work. The key is eliminating the waste caused by avoidable interruptions to the work of frontline operational crews and their machines.

Three steps to improve productivity

What we have observed is that those experiencing poor performance often think investing capital in technology or equipment is the solution. But they haven’t addressed the variability causing the poor performance, so they expand the operating envelope without solving the underlying problem.

David Upton was an Associate Professor of Technology and Operations Management at Harvard when he published a paper called ‘Mechanisms for Building and Sustaining Operations Improvement‘ which proposes:

The first thing to do is reduce variability within your operating envelope to improve average output. Then optimise processes to move performance up, maintaining the same disciplines to run the site with the same variability profile at a higher rate. Once the site hits a constraint, you can then look at capital investments to break the constraint to increase capacity to full potential.

"If you don't understand how to run an efficient operation, new machinery will just give you new problems of operation and maintenance.

The sure way to increase productivity is to better administrate man and machine."

W. Edwards Deming
David Upton
1. Get control to eliminate variability
2. Optimise processes
3. Increase capacity with capital projects

Step 1. Get control to reduce variability

The first serious leap in productivity should come from eliminating day-to-day variability by ensuring that frontline teams have a well thought out plan to execute each shift. This is how Commit Works creates rapid, sustainable improvements in productivity, cost and safety.

Step 2. Optimise and improve processes

After you have successfully reduced variability, it’s time to build upon this and look at how you can improve further. This is when you might engage consultants to help, adjust shifts, modify equipment and make other changes to achieve even better results.

Step 3. Invest capital to increase capacity

After processes across the site have been streamlined, it’s time to leverage these positive changes. The final step of deploying capital allows your site to reach full potential – however it is vital that this final step is taken after the operation is running smoothly.

The real deal

Our frontline work management solution has been implemented by various mines around the world. The one thing they all have in common is achieving success. The results below are the real deal.

Customer Impact Production Improvement

"The project had an immediate impact on underground production, especially production drilling."

Sean McCarthySuperintendent Engineering, Barrick Hemlo

"We've increased meters by about 30% and are now hitting budget for the first time, we're just a lot more organised than we were."

Matt JurakDevelopment Superintendent, Glencore

Everyone on the same page

Eliminating the time lost through the hour-by-hour challenges of coordinating a large number of people, machines, and activities in a complex, ever-changing mining environment is tough.

Our solutions enable your team to optimally balance people, equipment and resources for maximum uptime.

This unifies the frontline teams, creating a high-performance workforce that delivers more reliable and higher productivity work.

Mine Planning Software

Fast to implement

  • The easy, remote installation process and built-in training.
  • Our robust, fully integrated implementation process.
  • Intuitive, easy-to-use software that minimizes adoption time.
  • Ongoing support and regular new features.

This means the software is typically delivering value for the site in less than a month after we kick off the project.

Download our White Paper – Rigorous, Rapid and Effective Implementation

Fast payback

Sites typically achieve payback after implementation, due to significant improvements production and performance.

These gains are sustained over many years because our digital frontline productivity system is built on a foundation of usability and connectivity (not complex and hard to sustain spreadsheet and whiteboard-based tools).

Download our White Paper – Connecting Teams Without Disruption

Commitment precedes performance

There are two world views about frontline shift workers. One is that they are fundamentally self-interested and therefore need to be controlled and kept in line with extrinsic motivators – sticks and carrots. The second is that they are fundamentally good-willed and that their core intrinsic motivation is to do a great job and to go home safe and satisfied.

We believe in the latter.

We believe that the vast majority of frontline workers want to commit – they want to do a good job BUT they are thwarted by the complex array of spreadsheet and whiteboard systems that surround them.

When day after day shift plans don’t match the reality crews find at the coal face, the machinery they need isn’t available or the prerequisite work they thought would be done, isn’t done it is almost impossible to keep frontline teams motivated, productive and safe. These kinds of systems are  ‘Apathy Systems’ that make frontline workers feel cynical toward their leadership and indifferent toward their work.

On the other hand, when expectations are clearly communicated and agreed through effective coordination and respectful negotiation, frontline teams can commit and be confident of running a safe and productive shift.

We have been helping operations to create this commitment and in the process seeing them get astounding results from the same people and equipment they thought were the problem before.

Our systems make this kind of frontline commitment possible by providing all the information required for collaborative decision-making, to the right people, at the right time so that crews go to work with a well thought out plan each and every shift.

This reduces performance variability, improves productivity and helps people go home safely every day.

Andy Greig (Former President of the Bechtel Mining and Metals Global Business Unit) explains why it is important to express our expectations and negotiate commitment from those we work with.

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Download our case studies and white papers

Case Study – Coal Mine: Increase in Production
Case Study – Gold Mine Turnaround: Increase in Gold Production
White Paper – Influencing Behaviour Change: Why a Software-driven Planning System Beats Spreadsheets
White Paper – Planned Work Is Safe Work: Eliminating Risks In Mining Operations