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Frontline scheduling - short term interval control

Dead ends on the road to integrated planning and short term interval control

At Commit Works, we’ve spent nearly a decade building and implementing integrated planning and short term interval control (SIC) software to bridge the gap between monthly plans and the work done by frontline teams.

The hours we’ve worked with teams on mine sites have given us a comprehensive understanding of the challenges facing operations and the results that they need to achieve. Throughout the years we’ve watched mining companies invest significant amounts of money and time with consultants, software companies and internal teams to develop solutions to this problem – in most cases, they have run into dead ends.

We’ve written this article to share our insights and guide you through the reasons this kind of project often fails to deliver a useful tool to the team at the frontline.

Common approaches

Why are they falling short? Let’s take a look at the three approaches we’ve seen used, which try to build tools for frontline planning and scheduling and short term interval control (SIC) on mine sites around the world.

The MOS consultant approach

Almost every mine we’ve been on has a set of whiteboards, spreadsheets or paper tools for planning, doing, checking and acting on site. Most of the time these were developed and implemented during a Management Operating System (MOS) project.

In one project we recently helped on, the mine had over 65 spreadsheets stitched together with pivot tables and macros. No one on site really knew how all these were supposed to work together and when one thing stopped working the whole system was broken. A massive amount of time was wasted on this operation in pre-planning, planning and lock-in/commitment meetings in the quest for a plan everyone could agree to – and most weeks the plan was wrong within hours of starting.

Spreadsheets and whiteboards developed by MOS specialists, even if they continue to be used on an operation, require considerable manual work in order to keep them going. Their biggest failing, however, is in their inability to produce real cross-functional/integrated planning and scheduling. This is not a safe or reliable way to coordinate a mining operation, and it doesn’t have to be the case.

In-house IT approach

Sometimes, mines or their head offices choose to go it alone, using an internal IT team to build a solution for the sites. Some of these are successful at delivering useful tools to the front line to meet the particular needs of that mining operation.

However, three things are difficult:

  1. The tool is normally very specific to one operation so can’t easily be used on other operations in the group. This means the whole development cost is covered by one site.
  2. In-house projects are often plagued by issues around product design, software integration, scope creep and change management. Many are ultimately left unfinished following changes in organisational structure or redundancies in the company. This is because effective software in this space takes years to get right and many corporate IT departments don’t last that long without change.
  3. To continue to provide value to an operation, certain support infrastructure and people need to be employed. We have heard of mining companies employing customer success and DevOps teams to look after the software they have built in-house. This can last for a while but recently we have seen these teams being disbanded by new leaders looking to save head office costs. In these cases, sites are left with an unsupported system that no one knows how to fix or improve.

Software mashup approach

Often a number of systems are pulled together into an uncomfortable collaboration, or a systems integrator is brought in to create a “system of systems” for work scheduling and production reporting. They might bring planning and Short Interval Control systems with them to implement in the operation, or they may work with a software company to build a customised solution for the specific need.

A recent example in North America saw no less than six software and consulting organisations engaged to collaborate and deliver a planning and Short Term Interval Control solution. They experienced all the integration and “turf war” issues you would expect and, in the end, spent over $14m to deliver something that can now be bought off the shelf from one vendor (us). The team involved in this work were made redundant recently, so the sites have a system without the support they need and the system is, as far as we know, likely to be replaced.

Another angle on this is the “wrong tool forced to work”. For example, it has been suggested by some that “mining is just like maintenance” so you should be able to set up standard jobs in SAP and schedule them using Prometheus to enable frontline planning. Although there have, no doubt, been some successes in plant environments, where the majority of work is maintenance work, it is very hard to get frontline mining teams to use SAP for this kind of planning. You have to look very hard to find a real mining operation where this toolset has been able to provide frontline teams with a shift plan to deliver each shift.

Why is this so hard to get right?

In spite of good intentions, smart people and big budgets, so many projects fail to deliver a long-term solution. Here are some of the reasons why.

Mining is complex and software people seldom understand how mining operations really work

Consider all the moving parts and processes in a mining operation: production, maintenance of equipment, projects, geology, survey, rehab, safety and hazard management, reporting and analysis. And then there are people too: planners, schedulers, coordinators, control room personnel, site supervisors, operators and tradespeople.

Without a comprehensive understanding of how all of these elements fit together, it’s impossible to develop effective software for these people. Our team has spent years consulting, doing “day in the life studies” and coaching supervisors in the field. We understand what they need because we’ve been listening for more than 20 years.

Inadequate feedback from real users

You need to spend a lot of time with users (and care deeply about what they say) in order to build a system that is both powerful and easy to use.

Good software takes a long time to get right and consulting teams charge too much each day to justify having their best consultants help on software development projects. Neither mining companies nor consulting firms are good at software development or support – it’s not core business – so they tend to be expensive and fail to deliver what the site really needs.

Restructuring means short-lived internal software teams

Most internal software teams don’t stay in their roles for long enough to develop, implement and support a system that can achieve effective integrated frontline planning and short term interval control (SIC). Company restructures generally mean that projects are disrupted or the people that built the system will no longer be around or working in the right department to look after what they built.

Too many point solutions

Point solutions concentrate on fixing one specific problem quickly but often fail to connect with other systems. While many mining software suites perform well in their specific areas of influence (such as operational planning, maintenance, reporting, fleet management, safety monitoring, or analytics) there are no other software or technology firms that can provide an end-to-end solution that connects mine plans to all the frontline work that needs to be performed to deliver the plan.

Most of these point solutions are designed the way they are for good reasons, so it can be very hard to get the busy software companies that provide them to adapt their solutions to meet the needs of frontline workers.

There are many solutions available today that support frontline teams – this diagram shows some of the major ones. But note the lack of connection between the various solutions as you proceed from monthly plans through to the detailed work schedules used by crews.

Lack of adoption

To truly get the benefits of planning and Short Interval Control software it’s vital that implementation, change management and adoption of the new system is managed effectively and that ongoing support is available.

What should you do?

So, what is the best approach? Should you pay a software developer or outsourcer to build customised software that works around your mine’s current systems? Or start from scratch with an integrated provider of planning software? Or would a MOS consulting firm give you the spreadsheets you need to streamline the management of your mining operations?

The technology and innovation projects in the above examples have struggled to deliver tools that the crew at the frontline actually use in the way they were intended to be used.

It pays to avoid these kinds of mistakes, but how?

How Commit Works has succeeded where others have failed.

Commit Works is the only provider of a comprehensive, fully integrated frontline planning and scheduling system (Fewzion) that works with a short term interval control (SIC) app and visualisation software (Visual Ops) to give a complete picture of mining operations, every day, every shift.

In developing our Commit Works products, we built a minimum viable product (MVP) of Fewzion for Anglo American’s Moranbah North mine in 2011. We have continued to develop, support and improve it since. We’ve completed successive implementations for other Anglo American, BHP, Glencore, South32, Peabody, Rio Tinto, Mastermyne and Barrick Gold sites over the past six years. Implementations have taken six to 16 weeks to complete and have all delivered significant improvements in production and safety metrics. Crucially, we continue to support each of these sites and regularly release new features (our latest release is version 19.1) so that they get the benefit of the experience we are always building.

From monthly scheduling of personnel and resources all the way through to the most granular task-based details of a single shift, our mining software allows management to see their operations clearly and make better decisions, whilst empowering frontline teams to get the job done more efficiently and safely.

Implementations of our software have helped deliver massive production and safety improvements for some of the world’s largest mining companies. Most recently a site experienced a 45% increase in mucked tonnes per day within weeks of everyone using the system. You too could get these kinds of results.

Want to hear more about our mining software and how we’re making mines work better? Get in touch or watch a video to see how we do it.

 

Mining Software

See Commit Works at Mining Indaba- South Africa

Mahene Benzane, VP Africa Africa Region & Partner and Emelia Chalker, Head of Marketing at Commit Works will be heading to the Mining Indaba Conference in Cape Town, South Africa from Monday, 4th February to Thursday, 7th February.

The 25th Anniversary Mining Indaba event will see the largest amount of investors, mining executives and junior miners from across the globe come together for this leading deal making forum.

Highlights Include:

  • Meet with over 750 investors and dealmakers under one roof
  • Sustainable Development Day – Be a driver of eco-conscious mining. Discuss the role of diversity, inclusion and local communities in the mining sector and discover the newest sustainability-driven innovations
  • Mining 2050 – How can big data, automation, AI and digitalisation increase your efficiency and visibility?
  • Investment Battlefield – Watch as the hottest emerging mining projects pitch against each other to a panel of high-profile investors to be crowned the 2019 champion.
  • Young Leaders Programme – How do you plan to avoid a skills gap? Meet with the young talent eager to start a career in mining.
  • 27 Ministers Confirmed and still growing

Our Commit Works team looks forward to talking about practical digital transformation on your mine operation and welcome the opportunity to meet with customers and prospects.

If you’re interested in how Commit Works can help revolutionise your operation, please contact emelia.chalker@commit.works to schedule a meeting.

Future of Mining Americas

Commit Works takes off for Future of Mining Americas

Delegates from Commit Works will be jetting off to the United States later this month to The Future of Mining Americas conference in Denver, Colorado on 29 and 30 October.

Commit Works’ Director of Global Operations, Terry Henrikson, and Marketing and Communications Manager Emelia Chalker will attend the event, which brings together hundreds of mining professionals from all over the globe.

Last year, our CEO Paul Moynagh spoke at The Future of Mining Australia. At this follow-up event, Terry Henrikson will address attendees on “Creating Trust, Commitment and Sustainable Operational and Safety Results”.

The Future of Mining Americas will connect C-suite, heads and managers of mine operations, METS and support services from top enterprises worldwide to debate and define the current and future mining landscape across the Americas. Presented and curated by Mining Magazine and Mining Journal, the conference includes expert speakers with diverse strategic and operational experience, from project level through to the boardroom.

Our Commit Works team looks forward to learning from other leaders in mining, as well as sharing our insights and success driving improvements in operational performance, communication and safety.

Integrated Mine Planning and scheduling software

Mining goes mobile

Commit Works features in CIM Magazine, article reposted here:

Applications to modernize mapping, monitoring and mine management

Mobile technology is ubiquitous today. Seventy-six per cent of Canadian adults owned a smartphone in 2016, according to Statistics Canada, and 54 per cent owned a tablet or e-reader. The numbers are virtually identical in the United States. It is no surprise, then, that mobile devices are changing how people work, even in industries as conservative – and as operationally challenging – as mining.

A handful of companies have begun taking advantage of the new technology space. The mobile applications they offer vary in focus, but each aims to help miners get better visibility, make better decisions and improve the efficiency and productivity of their operations – all at prices far below traditional enterprise-level software. That fact promises to help level the technological playing field between large and small operators.

If you know where you are…

Takor Group is an Australian geospatial technology startup. Their primary product, Mappt, is a low-cost, offline-capable mobile geographic information system (GIS) application. Users record data and photos against geographic locations, such as the position of a drillhole, using configurable forms. “It can pop up questions one by one, and as they’re answered, it jumps to the next question,” said Takor product manager Ciarán Doyle. “In the background, it’s saving all that information against that location.” Users can create geofenced inclusion or exclusion zones, defining them either ahead of time or by walking or driving the perimeter. “The app addresses quite a few of the pain points that field collectors were feeling,” said Doyle.

“The massive time savings” of collecting data digitally, rather than manually with a physical map and pen and paper, is a major selling point, said Doyle, brand and strategy at Takor, as is having all the tools you need in one device. And, he said, “The quality of data has shot through the roof.”

It is also a fit-for-purpose solution, like many of the apps available for mining. “One of the reasons that Mappt came about was due to the frustration of using ArcGIS and their mobile application,” said Doyle. “It’s quite extensive and extremely hard to use and to set up. You couldn’t just go out in the field with a professional tool without spending thousands of dollars, and there’s a massive process involved.” With Mappt, he said, a user can go straight from purchasing the product to being in the field in “literally minutes.”Mappt

Mappt, a mobile GIS app by the tech startup Takor, was designed to be low-cost and user friendly. Courtesy of Takor Group

Chris Devlin, director at iSpatial Solutions, a GIS consultancy which acts as “effectively, the in-house GIS department” for a number of small mining companies, often recommends Mappt to clients. “They like it not only for the functionality and the ease of use but also for the licensing model,” he said. “It’s simple and cost-effective.”

…you can plan where you’re going

MST Global’s Field Analysis & Reporting Application (FARA) uses Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and a mobile app to provide fleet and personnel management to underground and open-pit operations. Sean Dessureault, now chief innovation evangelist at MST, developed FARA at his company, MISOM Technologies, before selling MISOM to MST in late 2017.


RELATED:TRANSITIONING FROM INFORMATION OVERLOAD TO EFFICIENT OPERATION WITH SHORT INTERVAL CONTROL


“Our tablet for fleet management can be installed in a machine in a few minutes,” Dessureault said, and even temporarily in contractor vehicles. The tablets determine their position using GPS or by sensing small, $30 Bluetooth beacons that can be placed around the site – even underground. That location information can be used by the application to automatically track cycles, sequences and even delays and can be leveraged to prompt users for input using location-based triggers. Operators also use the app to fill in digitized forms for things like hazard assessments and pre-operational checklists. Tablet-to-tablet communication means that a supervisor can approach a vehicle and view the forms the driver has filled out, even without Wi-Fi or LTE infrastructure.

“From the operator feedback, they like the digital forms the best. It saves time, and they find the information more engaging,” said Dessureault – especially when the feedback is gamified, as FARA can be configured to be. Employees earn points on a leaderboard for the number of cycles they complete or for providing a good safety share, for example. Shift changes can be improved by rewarding operators for getting on their machine before a certain time. Before, Dessureault said, “even if you did write an excellent safety share during your take-five, nobody would ever really know. Miners love having that feedback. They love to compete.”

The sudden availability of inexpensive apps and consumer-grade electronic devices has spurred some operators to adopt systems like this for the first time. “Some of our installs were in places that have never had fleet management before,” said Dessureault, “so productivity increased significantly.”

Put down the clipboard

For other operators, however, mobile technology may augment existing information management systems and make a technician’s job easier.

Canary Systems’ MLWeb is one such data management system. It aggregates and correlates data from various third-party instrumentation and sensors, data loggers, radars and satellites to provide risk management for projects in numerous industries, including mining, construction and dams. The mobile portion of Canary’s software suite is the data collection tool MLField.

“MLField has been designed to support users in cases where they don’t have automated instrumentation,” said Martin van Balkom, marketing manager at Canary Systems. “A technician would like to go into the field and, for example, go to a piezometer and take a manual reading.”


RELATED: THE BANDWIDTH BACKBONE


“There are still cases where people take the readings manually” with pen and paper, added Andrei Pascu, Canary’s Canadian group manager. “Going back to the office, those readings are transcribed into the system or into Excel.” Using the app to collect data, he said, is both faster and more reliable – previous readings are shown, helping catch entry errors, and the tablet automatically syncs to the project database once online again, eliminating transcription errors.

“One of the advantages of tying this all together is the speed with which you can now manage the risk of this operation,” said van Balkom. “We have a dam client in the U.S. where their data collection in the field, from the time it was collected until the engineer saw it, took about 2 months. That’s basically historical data at that point.” Even engineers used to getting instrumentation readings 12 to 24 hours after collection could benefit from the increased visibility that digital methods enable.

BME, a South Africa-based blasting company, offers XploLog, which like MLField, is primarily for collecting data in the field. XploLog’s data syncs back to BME’s blasting design database, BlastMap.

“As the users are logging into the XploLog system the actual loading and timing of what’s going on in the field, that information is being sent directly back to the office, so the people in the office are aware of any problem,” said BME managing director Joe Keenan. “They might get an alert saying three holes have collapsed, so they can talk about the best workaround. Or they can just log it into the system so the actual design is recorded in the database.”

“It increases productivity, but it also reduces the surprises. These tools give you the ability to see the problem before it becomes the problem,” said Keenan. Before using the mobile app to record blast data, he added, “it was paper reports or word of mouth. And it was a very imperfect system, I assure you.”

Bring your plan to work with you

Eliminating paper from the field makes life simpler for both planners and supervisors. Fewzion is a work management system from Commit Works, which enables short interval control (SIC) on mobile devices in the field. All work on site can be pulled in from source planning systems such as Xact, Surpac, Deswik, SAP, spreadsheets etc., as well as inspections, equipment servicing, training, site development work and the actual production work. It is then planned and can be tracked in short chunks to ensure people can react to problems early enough to reliably hit their targets.

“It contains all the work and targets that planners from each department have agreed to, alongside detailed tasks that crews and supervisors think need to be done for the whole site,” said Commit Works CEO Paul Moynagh. “Then the team can start making some trade-offs to land on a plan that is achievable for each shift.” By making everything visible to the whole team, detailed planning can take place between silos, allowing everybody to understand and commit to a well-coordinated, holistic plan for the operation.

Moynagh notes that at many sites, supervisors still drive around with stacks of paper detailing the week’s work in production targets, Gantt charts, mud maps and even photos of the whiteboard from the production meeting. “If you see these massive piles of paper, you understand why it’s very difficult to find the information supervisors need or get good decision-making out of that kind of data,” said Moynagh. The mobile portion of Fewzion provides an organized, offline-capable digital view of everything in the system. “A phone or tablet is far more convenient to carry around. And if they’re out in the field and see something that needs to be done, they can create a task and suggest a time for it,” he added. That task will be synchronized across the whole Fewzion system once the device is online. “Add to our new mapping system (visual ops) and all work can be seen on a map next to the machines and people that will be doing it and any of the hazards that they might encounter.”

Users of Fewzion have seen 30 to 50 per cent increases in production after implementation, according to Moynagh. “A lot of the things that used to get in the way, a lot of the annoying waste, now gets planned out before it happens,” he said. “All the things that were causing them trouble, which are very hard to pinpoint, just start to disappear with a well-thought-out frontline plan that everyone can see and agree on.”

More than mere technology

In true Silicon Valley style, several of the app makers pride themselves as disruptors with a higher purpose. “Most tier ones would never pay $1,000 for something they could buy for $20,000,” said MST’s Dessureault, only half-jokingly. “Our price point is so low, we can open up the quarry market, the small-to-medium size mines.”

“The big thing for us is the democratization of technology,” agreed Doyle of Takor Group. “We’re reducing or removing possible barriers to entry for people to benefit from technology. Being able to run the app on a cheap Android device and basically have an enterprise-level tool at a bargain basement price, that’s what we want.”

Short Interval control system

Pathways to a Mine that is in Short Term Interval Control

A few nights ago I had a call with Leon Cosgrove from Wipro about short interval control. We discussed the different ways miners can go to improve performance in their operations. Perhaps it was because we’re both involved in the consulting industry but somehow a 2 by 2 matrix appeared as we spoke. See below, we both thought it was helpful for describing the journey to a high performing operation.

On the Y Axis is the extent to which the mine can measure and see where all their equipment is and what it is doing. There is a big range of technologies here but to keep it simple these range from sites with no way of knowing where anything is or what it is doing through truck counts and radio based tools like PitRam up to high precision fleet management systems like Modular, Newtrax or MobileARIS. Telematics and measurement are one thing but getting the data out of the pit is equally challenging, again simplifying terribly, technologies used range from nothing to radios, to leaky feeder to wifi and daisy chaining to LTE.

On the X Axis is the extent to which the mine is planning and scheduling frontline operational work. On the left are operations that believe that a good mining schedule and perhaps a maintenance plan are able to be simply handed down to the operation to execute. On the right are the operations who have the frontline management systems and behaviours necessary to describe in short intervals what needs to be done each shift for everyone on the site. These operations engage religiously in the Plan Do Check Act cycle and use variances from the plan each shift, day and week to drive performance improvements continuously.

Short Interval control

Three routes to high performance

With the matrix above it was interesting to think through the different routes to becoming a high performer, we came up with three options.

1.Technology first. Many operations have invested heavily in connectivity and fleet management systems that tell them where alShort Interval Controll their machines are and exactly what is happening. When these operations want to move towards the high performer quartile they have lots of high quality data but they still need to break their silos and perform short interval, integrated planning and scheduling.

2. Management first. Traditional management operating system (MOS) consultants have done huge numbers of projects with miners getting them to improve their frontline management planning and coordination. Short interval control is a tool often implemented during these projects. However, without an easy to use and integrated frontline planning and short interval control system (most of these consultants still sell spreadsheets and whiteboards) the mature management behaviours they have implemented are very hard to sustain. Operations that use these old fashioned MOS “systems” are very difficult to move into the “High performer” quartile in a sustainable way as the tools often break when the consultants leave.

3. Management and Technology together. The most direct route to the High performer quartile is by integrating mature management practices with mature technology. This way the behaviours of the organisation can be directly supported by and embedded in the way the technology works. Critical to this transition is the use of a fully integrated frontline planning and short interval control system that can connect the enterprise planning systems to the operational technology that runs the mine. Done well this type of project uses mature management consultants to improve management practices while the technologists wire the system together to support mature management behaviours. This approach delivers rapid and sustainable results for much lower cost than option 1 or 2.

Commit Works has been working with some of the largest and the smartest miners in the world to deliver massive production and safety improvements.

Our fully integrated frontline planning, scheduling and short interval control system, Fewzion, has helped miners deliver 25% to 50% improvements in performance in less than 3 months from the start of implementation on site. Many of these sites have sustained their results for over 4 years through successive changes in management and ownership.

To find out more contact us at www.commit.works or call 1300 33 99 46

 

Eske Pillen - VP Customer Success

Eske Pillen

Eske Pillen

Eske Pillen is VP Customer Results at Commit Works. An experienced client relationship manager, she is responsible for ensuring clients achieve their desired and expected results. Being an expert in Business Operations, she advises clients on operational performance & quality assurance and has managed several front to end operations projects.

Your current role?

VP of Customer Results – making sure our customers get the most out of our products.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was a kid, I first wanted to become a patissier (just like my granddad), then moved to architect and later on decided to become a criminal lawyer. Although I can’t even bake a cake nowadays, I did finish my Masters in criminal law back in Holland. It’s because of the travelling I let that go and ended up in the operational/CRM space.

I love working with clients and the fact that I still get to use my legal skills now and again – makes it a good combination!

What do you see as the most important innovation of your lifetime?

Video conferencing! Without it, I couldn’t work from Western Australia and serve our clients and be part of the team in Brisbane! I also wouldn’t be able to see my family on a regular basis.

Who or what inspires you?

My other half! He moved from Holland to Australia on his own about four years ago with pretty much nothing. He found a job, worked his way up, and now runs large crushing and screening projects for all sorts of clients across Australia. I’ve never seen someone work so hard and be so resilient.

Why do you love working at Commit Works?

The passion of the team, the quality of the products and the awesome opportunities it creates.

Quote you work by?

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Perhaps a little clichéd, but it’s oh so true!

Meet members of our team here

Terry Henrikson

Terry Henrikson

Terry Henrikson

Terry Henrikson is Director Global Operations in our leadership team. A heavy industry management consultant with over 25 years experience working for a range of blue-chip clients.

Your current role?

Director Global Operations.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Anything that didn’t involve athletics, swimming, speech contests, milking cows, and everything else I thought I’d hate forever.

What are you passionate about?

Living sustainably, healthy eating, challenging yourself, standing by your commitments.

What do you see as the most important innovation of your lifetime?

Connectivity – the Internet of Things.

Who or what inspires you?

Simplicity – those who just ‘live life’ and maximise happiness, in whatever shape that takes. The elusive art of removing stress and grumpiness!

Why do you love working at Commit Works?

Clever people doing very clever things. An enthusiasm to be progressive, constantly innovative, and driven to always be a step ahead.

Quote you work by?

“Don’t be precious – get on with it. Maximise!”

Meet members of our team here

Mine Planning and scheduling 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

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.