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mining Software

The power of planning

It’s not difficult to understand the connection between poor planning and poor results. A lack of coordination on site due to insufficient planning causes unnecessary delays, wasted time and rework. This leads to compromised production levels and budget setbacks.

Good planning involves commitments from multiple teams to deliver work on time and within allocated budgets. That’s why we at Commit Works developed our Fewzion product: to facilitate and track commitment-based planning.

Proven production increases

How soon after implementing Fewzion can you expect to see production improvements on your operation? You may be surprised: our clients regularly increase production by over 30% within two short months of using Fewzion. They attribute their success to better organisation and teamwork.

Just ask our client Anglo American, who recently posted a 4% year-on-year increase in total production in their first quarter this year. Owing to continuing strong performance at the Moranbah mine and the ramp-up of the Grosvenor mine – both of which use Fewzion software solutions – metallurgical coal increased production by 6% to 5.5-million tonnes.

Anglo American sites in South Africa, Zibulo and Greenside colliers (who also use Fewzion)  improved productivity for the quarter.

Anglo American’s improved performance in Australia and South Africa reinforces the enormous value of powerful planning software.

Overhauling frontline planning and coordination has been the key to breaking through performance barriers and boosting efficiency for our other clients too. Over the past five years, while the market has seen a 21% rise in production, Commit Works clients have stormed ahead with an average 74% improvement in production.

Find out more about Fewzion

Fewzion is a frontline planning system that:

  • provides a single, integrated view of what’s planned for everyone on site – daily and weekly
  • shows targets that can be adjusted based on how a project is progressing
  • details the commitments made by each team, and shows when those commitments are delivered on
  • is visible to everyone working on a project, in a format that’s easy to use and understand
  • is cloud-based, accessible on mobile and enables real-time updates.

 

Ready to see how Fewzion can boost results for your operation? Contact Commit Works today to arrange a demo

Mining Software

Beyond the downturn: new priorities in Australian mining

Mining Software

2018 sees the mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector in Australia emerging from the downturn and reassessing its approach to the future.

With market conditions improving, confidence has begun to return to the sector but commodity prices are still marked by fluctuation. How should mining companies approach this new era?

These are the key, interrelated ideas around which the future of mining is developing:

  • Collaboration
  • Innovation
  • Technology

Commit Works is operating at the nexus of these priorities, delivering software solutions that grow with the industry and facilitate better collaboration on mining operations.

Collaboration

The value of collaboration in mining has gone largely untapped in an industry that’s known for its silos and secrecy.

Mining’s recent tough years taught companies that better cooperation in the workforce is crucial to improving efficiency and productivity, not to mention safety on site.

Collaboration across and outside of the sector is also a rising trend, with the resources industry building relationships with software developers, technical specialists, strategic thinkers and others. The role of diversified knowledge and new perspectives has been recognised in the bid to transform the METS industry and guarantee its future survival.

Innovation

Innovation was a focus for the industry during the downturn, as businesses fought to survive. In the wake of that challenging period, it’s become clear that innovation is now a constant consideration. The world is changing fast, driven by rapid technological advances and volatile markets; “innovation” is the shorthand for all of the ways in which companies can stay relevant and competitive.

Technology

The upswing in the market has meant that more companies can invest in technology – digitisation is now happening across all levels of business. These investments are seeing improvements in equipment capabilities, workforce management, safety and efficiency, as companies benefit from mobile technology, cloud computing, automation, real-time reporting and big data.

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.

Mine planning software

Do your teams fear commitment?

We put the concept of commitment at the centre of our brand because we view it as a crucial component of any operation’s success. Where specialised teams are working alongside each other on an overall plan, they need to be able to believe in the strength of that plan and commit to making it happen. If they don’t, things can fall apart.

Identify the problem

In our experience, a key challenge when implementing any management operating system (MOS) is that often people don’t believe the plan is:

  • realistic
  • achievable
  • able to adapt to inevitable changes that may arise during the project.

It’s fair enough to feel this way. Why commit to something that seems fundamentally flawed?

Find a system that works

Our view is that an excellent frontline planning system can change this. Traditionally, planning has been done on spreadsheets and whiteboards – tools that aren’t equipped to reliably pull together production, maintenance, rostering, training and safety information into comprehensive, accessible shift plans.

Our vision of an excellent “commitment management system” is one that:

  • provides a single, integrated view of what’s planned for everyone on site – daily and weekly
  • shows targets that can be adjusted based on how a project is progressing
  • details the commitments made by each team, and shows when those commitments are delivered on
  • is visible to everyone working on a project, in a format that’s easy to use and understand
  • is cloud-based, accessible on mobile and enables real-time updates.

See results

Your teams deserve more than convoluted spreadsheets and messy whiteboards. Turning your current MOS into something far more useful can be as simple as implementing our Fewzion scheduling software. Fewzion helps create organised, engaged and productive workforces by:

  • making it quick for planners to build a well-thought-out plan
  • simple for supervisors and crews to be involved in the plan and to get the work done
  • easy for managers to understand and improve performance.

When your teams are truly committed to delivering scheduled work and can see their results and progress, you boost productivity and strengthen your business.

Commitment Manifesto

Commitment Manifesto

We wrote the commitment manifesto to spark a conversation about how high-trust, high-commitment organisations work. We believe that organisations that work in alignment with these principles create a committed workplace which delivers extraordinary employee, shareholder, community and customer results.

  • We lead workplaces where leaders trust their people to make and fulfil commitments to each other.
  • As leaders, we set clear expectations with our teams and negotiate realistic commitments from the board room to the coal face
  • We plan our work to deliver on targets with our people and equipment.
  • Everyone can have input to the plan, either by suggesting work, improving processes or accurately sharing their reality.
  • We collaborate across all functions and crews so everyone on site knows what will happen next and people say, “Things get done when they are in the plan”.
  • We commit to plans that are both based in reality and focused on outcomes. But the world we operate in changes fast, so we adapt quickly and transparently.
  • At regular intervals we reflect on progress, provide feedback and adjust our practices accordingly.
  • We adhere to the Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) cycle and act on the learning opportunities we get from any variance from the plan.
  • We fix root causes to improve the “real” work process where it happens.
  • We use technology to improve our work processes, our productivity and the results of our organisation.

 

Frontline Mining Software

Fewzion: Power in simplicity

Designed to solve a common problem

Commit Works initially developed its Fewzion product to overcome obstacles to productivity in an underground coal mine in Queensland.

“The planning spreadsheets and whiteboards that were limping along in the mine were simply not up to the task,” recalls Commit Works CEO Paul Moynagh. “They wasted a lot of people’s time (time that was better spent underground), they were hard to manage, the macros broke all the time, and it was impossible to see what other planners were planning or even whether the plan was getting done.”

These problems were not unique to this mine – issues around monitoring KPIs, crews and their equipment from shift to shift are widespread. While good long-term planning tools exist, there was a gap in the market for reliably managing short interval control (SIC) and dealing with inevitable changes and challenges that arise on site on a daily basis.

Visibility and accountability

Fewzion replaces spreadsheets and whiteboards with a comprehensive online shift-planning system that is visible to all teams. It focuses on putting the plan in the hands of crew supervisors every shift, so that they become accountable for delivering on the plan.

Fewzion’s short interval control captures data on shifts at two-hour intervals. This allows project managers, directors and team members to check performance and make adjustments to get back on track if something’s not going to plan. Problems can be picked up early and solved before they become more significant and costly.

Simplicity and ease of use

Moynagh believes that Fewzion’s power lies in its simplicity.

“The thing everyone mentions is how simple it is to use, and that it is easy to set up and doesn’t cost a lot,” he says. “It works through a browser and can be set up either in the cloud or on your servers.”

“People who can’t use computers can still use Fewzion – it’s iPad simple. In just two hours training coordinators, schedulers, planners and under-managers can be set up and ready to create and manage weekly plans and schedules.”

Visual Ops

Anglo American and Commit Works partnership wins 2017 METS Ignited Collaboration Award

A five-year partnership between Anglo American and Commit Works won the 2017 METS Ignited Collaboration Award at the fourth annual International Mining and Resources Conference in Melbourne on 1 November.

The annual award recognises true collaboration between mining equipment, technology and services (METS), mining companies and researchers in the sector.

Together, the team co-designed and implemented a unique visual management system (Visual Ops)  providing near real-time operations mapping, to monitor hazards and the progress of work at Anglo American’s Moranbah North mine.

David Diamond, CEO of Anglo American’s Metallurgical Coal business, congratulated the team involved in developing and implementing the technology.

“We’re honoured to be recognised by the Australian METS industry” said Mr Diamond.

“Through our long-standing partnership with Commit Works, we’ve implemented a significant improvement to our operations.”

Glen Britton, Executive Head of Operations of Anglo American’s Metallurgical Coal business, has been an integral part of the long-standing partnership.

“The story of our collaboration began by identifying a clear gap in work management capabilities that no solution on the market could fill. Together, we’ve pioneered a series of unique innovations –Fewzion and Visual Ops. Both have delivered results beyond expectations.”

“We are creating a better, safer workplace, achieving record-breaking tonnages and empowering our workforce.”

Commit Works CEO, Paul Moynagh said he was grateful to collaborate and work with an organisation such as, Anglo American.

“At Commit Works we are passionate about building software that helps ‘hands on’ work teams make commitments to each other and deliver on them. We are extremely grateful to the team at Anglo American for trusting us to design, build and support these products for them over the past five years”.

“We look forward to continuing to innovate together as we take work management and short interval control mobile into demanding workplaces; so supervisors can confidently and safely lead their teams to exceptional results”.

 

Frontline Planing and scheduling software

Mining technology: key to productivity

In mining and logistics, errors can cost millions, not to mention jobs and reputations. Delivering projects on time and sticking to the budget is vital for bottom line profits.

Mining software that maximises productivity and clear communication is therefore hugely valuable to large projects where complexity can undermine successful operations.

Commit Works’ Fewzion software is the ultimate well-rounded productivity tool, allowing organisations to outplan uncertainty and deliver on time, on budget, every time.

Commitment-based

Planning involves commitments from multiple teams to deliver work on time and within allocated budgets. Fewzion facilitates and tracks commitment-based planning so that:

  • plans are visible to all teams
  • everyone is accountable.

Collaborative

Large projects involve multiple teams and it’s common for work to become siloed. When this happens, inefficiencies and miscommunication can arise. While it’s necessary for teams to work on their own specialised tasks, good communication improves both work quality and delivery times.

Fewzion creates a single, integrated frontline plan that brings all work into one place and makes it visible to everyone. This fosters collaboration, minimising confusion and boosting productivity.

Data-driven

Checking data against targets at regular intervals ensures that a project is on track. Fewzion’s short interval control captures data on shifts at two-hour intervals. This allows project managers, directors and team members to check performance and make adjustments to get back on track if something’s not going to plan. Checking at short intervals means that potential problems can be picked up early and solved before they become more significant and costly.

The get optimal results from mining software all relevant employees need to be trained to use the technology properly. Our Commit Works demo is for all team members who’ll be using our software.

Contact us to see how we can help you plan, track performance and stay on budget to improve your bottom line.

Frontline scheduling software

Commit Works Fewzion brings manufacturing discipline to frontline scheduling and management

Paul Moynagh is a founding director of Commit Works – Fewzion, which provides a work-management software system designed to help improve operational productivity. He tells Ailbhe Goodbody about how frontline work-scheduling systems can improve productivity.

Fusing production processes

How can a work-scheduling software system such as Fewzion help mining companies to improve productivity and control cost, and what are their advantages over just using spreadsheets?

Most mines have good tools for planning the mine and what is supposed to happen in the next 4-16 weeks (the theory). They also have a lot of data about what’s happening in the mine, with SCADA and fleet-management systems that can tell leaders about the performance of machines, where a machine is and even what it is doing (the practice).

At Fewzion we believe that to improve performance you need to manage the frontline shift-by-shift work process that connects the theory to the practice. To do this you need to know what the targets, tasks, people and equipment are for each specific shift, because results are delivered by these people and equipment each shift. Fewzion is the bridge between the theory and the practice for all work; it is designed to help manage the work done by everyone on-site (from preparation to production and maintenance through to the plant) all in one resource-balanced plan. We don’t know of any other system that does that job.

The key difference is that Fewzion supports the whole ‘plan, do, check, adapt’ cycle from weeks down to shifts. So there are screens and reports for planning the week, adapting plans for change each day, doing shift handovers and pre starts, managing a shift, entering actuals, closing off tasks and reviewing performance in daily review meetings. The group of spreadsheets, macros, whiteboards etc. required to do this outside of a proper software tool like Fewzion is frightening and it’s kind of amazing that many billion-dollar operations still run this way.

While we make life easier for planners by bringing in data from other planning systems (e.g. Excel and SAP), our focus is on getting a good plan in the hand of the supervisor who is out there every day with their crew making the work happen.

With spreadsheets and whiteboards, people often put lists of tasks together for what to do each day. Within Fewzion, each of thosetasks has a resourcing requirement, so by visually comparing theroster and equipment schedules it is quickly evident if there areenough people and equipment to do the work each shift.
Fewzion helps the supervisor engage their crew so that they can give feedback about what is and isn’t working. This means planners can create better plans that crews believe can be delivered, not (as I’ve seen many times) say “this is rubbish” then go and do something else. Having an easy-to-use tool insupervisors’ hands means that people can make better decisions, and it’s not just a top-down push – it’s top down and bottom up, and that makes the difference, I think.
How do you encourage employees to use such a system properly?
Everybody says that ease of use is the key (particularly in mining).
We have taken this to the extreme, and made the system ‘iPad simple’, which means that there’s very little barrier to use. We find
that in many cases people use it better than a pen and paper, or a whiteboard. Where you’ve got literacy issues or language barriers,
there can be a lot of push back on manual, paper-based tools. The barrier to use needs to be very low, that’s what I think the difference is for supervisors while maintaining a powerful work-scheduling system for planners and engineers.
We are also careful with our language and don’t like to talk about ‘accountability’. Instead we say that “Fewzion makes everyone’s hard work visible”. So putting a tool like Fewzion into a mine supervisor’s hands helps them to not only influence their crew to get the work done but also helps influence the management team to better plan and co-ordinate the work.

When you put it in those terms, the buy-in is much stronger. Plus, to be honest, despite the cold hard fact that it is about improving performance, Fewzion also feels like a bit of a ‘bright shiny new thing’, so there are always people who are keen to give it a go.

Due to the global mining downturn, many mining companies are cutting back on expenditure. How do you persuade them to invest in a scheduling system at such a time?
Fundamentally, we’re about improving the bottom line by managing processes better.  A lot of the big cuts have already happened, so now companies are looking at how to operate their slimmed-down mines more efficiently – this means driving up productivity and driving down
cost per tonne.
Getting on top of the process and what’s happening every day is one of the most powerful ways to do that, and a scheduling system means you can actually manage that work, which makes it much more likely that you’ll succeed.
Fewzion is being used at Anglo American’s Moranbah North mine in Australia’s Bowen Basin (winner of 2013 Australian coal mine of the year for a complete turnaround in performance). Anglo American has stated on its online investor page that in 2013 it improved longwall output at the mine by 39%. Their longwall now regularly runs at over 100 hours per week.
You certainly can’t attribute all of that to Fewzion – but you can attribute it to managing people, equipment and processes better, and Fewzion is a tool they use for that.

Mark Cutifani, CEO of Anglo American, regularly says he wants to bring manufacturing discipline to the mining industry. Moranbah North has set a high standard for this and the approach is being spread throughout the underground coal business.
We intend to work with other mining verticals, and there is really no reason why Fewzion shouldn’t be used in open-pit mines or hard-rock underground mines right now.

How is Fewzion working with consultancies?
We really enjoy working and collaborating with consultants and have built some strong relationships already. We understand that many of the benefits of Fewzion come when it is combined with effective consulting. That’s not to say that you can’t get benefits from the software on its own (many of our customers have), but together there is a force-multiplier effect.

Our focus is purely on building and supporting great software that people want to use. We don’t provide any competing consulting services so that we can work cleanly with consultants anywhere in the world, and geography is not an issue because Fewzion can be run from the cloud.

There are four elements that work together to improve the performance of an operation: the management system, tools, behaviours (the process of planning, doing, reviewing and improving) and leadership. Most consultants will work on all four of these elements during a project; however, the tools and systems are normally built up with spreadsheets, paper and whiteboards, which are often created from scratch during the project. At the start of a consulting project there’s a lot of effort and investment required to get people to use those tools.

With a modern web-based system like Fewzion, you can have the system up and running in a couple of days. People accept the system quickly because it saves them time, so the consultants can concentrate their effort on coaching for management behaviours, leadership and results.

Systems like Fewzion make consulting projects more effective and, most importantly, the system is many times more sustainable after the consulting project is finished.

AUTHOR
Ailbhe Goodbody, Assistant Editor,
Mining Magazine

Mining safety

Planned work is 10 times safer than unplanned work

90 % of the injuries occur when people work off-plan

Hear from Andy Greig (Former President of the Bechtel Mining and Metal Global Business Unit) who talks about the importance of following a plan to improve safety in the workplace.

Effective tools such as Commitment Management System enhances the planning process which allows frontline managers, leaders and planners to plan and control resourcing, plant, safety and risk management in one central platform. Frontline planning and scheduling systems are enablers for managers to achieve productivity goals but most importantly to provide a safe work zone for their crew.

Safety First

Watch more interesting videos here