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Mining

The role of digitisation in mitigating mining downturns

The mining industry is variable by nature. Mining it is dependent on multiple factors, including:

  • uncertainty about the nature of resources being mined
  • the changeable quality of a mine’s resources over time
  • environments, sometimes remote and extreme, where money has to be spent flying miners in and out
  • weather
  • market demand for resources
  • mining equipment, which can break down as a result of unpredictable stresses and loads on site.

These factors are part and parcel of mining, and are here to stay. The key to navigating variability therefore lies in how we plan for these conditions. Mining’s future prosperity relies on digital solutions that improve productivity.

At Commit.Works, we develop our software on the basis that we can out-plan uncertainty using innovative technologies.

Mobile technology: smartphones and tablets

In their November 2015 report, McKinsey & Company identified key technologies that have the potential to manage variability and boost mining productivity. Among these technologies were those that involve human-machine interaction:

“Consumer smartphones and other mobile devices have transformed the way that people interact not only with one another but also with machines. Consumers rely on their smartphones for driving directions, booking taxis, and monitoring their health; applications are also spreading rapidly in the industrial field.”

Commit Works’ Fewzion software is one such example. Working via an app on a tablet or smartphone, Fewzion replaces spreadsheets and whiteboards with a comprehensive online shift-planning system that is visible to all teams. It puts the plan in the hands of crew supervisors via their mobile or tablet every shift, so that they become accountable for delivering on the plan.

Monitoring performance in real time

In the same report, McKinsey & Company predicted that real-time measurement of performance against the plan will be a key area of value-creation in future:

“One benefit of real-time data is knowing the state and location of every piece of equipment in a mining operation at every second – and, in particular, whether it is operating according to or outside of the plan. This real-time insight gives new meaning to operations performance management, taking the conversation from one about monthly output to one that focuses on variability and compliance to plan.”

Our Visual Ops product exploits this potential by enabling teams to map and track everything on a site, from equipment to hazards to people. This reduces safety risks and improves coordination by ensuring a high level of situational awareness for everyone in a team.

Commit.Works also enables real-time performance tracking by incorporating short interval control (SIC) into its Fewzion software. 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.

Because SIC is based on the idea that we can learn from the past, it’s a system that continually works towards improving future work. Digitised SIC offers a way of monitoring performance that is more accurate, effective, user-friendly and visible to teams.

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

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.