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A shift in mine productivity

Published by , Editorial Assistant
World Coal,

For most mines, material movement takes place around-the-clock. In this 24 x 7 environment, undue equipment and operator idle time equates to a decrease in productivity and an increase in the cost of doing business.

The excessive amount of time wasted during shift change is a challenge faced by most mine operations. As such, they constantly look for ways to keep scheduled non-productive time to a minimum. Coal provider Drummond Ltd. Colombia, is no exception.

A Modular customer since 2001, Drummond recently turned to Modular for help in gaining control over the shift-change process at their Mina Pribbenow and Mina El Descanso sites in the Cesar Coal Basin. Despite having extensive experience using the DISPATCH® Fleet Management system (FMS) across its 350-unit fleet, Drummond still suffered from time loss during shift change, which could take up to an hour to complete.

Two major factors contributed to the problem. First, the lineup and shift change processes were managed manually. Second, if operators felt they lacked sufficient time to travel to and from the dump before shift-end, they would stop their trucks at whatever park-up spot was most convenient.

Because the park-up locations were often unknown or located far apart, supervisors had difficulty getting oncoming operators to their assigned equipment units. Missing operators at trucks caused delays and long queues at shift-start, and a decrease in productivity and production.

At Drummond’s request, Modular sent a mining engineer to Mina Pribbenow to evaluate the shift change process, map the workflow, and identify how the DISPATCH FMS’ Parkup and Lineup Management modules (described below), could help resolve the problem.

Parkup module

The Parkup module enables the dispatcher or supervisor to automate the assignment of equipment to a parkup location at shift change, thus reducing the possibility of an operator leaving equipment in an undisclosed location. Assignments are optimised so that trucks are allocated to parkup locations near the assigned end-points when trucks are unable to complete an additional full or empty haul.

With this module, the dispatcher or supervisor has an effective and timely decision-making tool for parkup assignments, making it possible to maximise production during the last hour of the shift in progress and the first hour of the subsequent shift.

Lineup Management module

The Lineup Management module analyses information from the DISPATCH system central database based on the criteria selected (priority, qualification, or availability) and automatically assigns qualified personnel to equipment before the start of a shift. Lineup assignments can then be quickly and easily communicated to equipment operators through a scrolling display on a monitor. The module can also be used to manually assign operators to equipment units or override automatic assignments.

Over a four-month period, the mining engineer installed the Parkup and Lineup modules, re-evaluated the productivity data, helped the mine reformulate a number of standard operational procedures, and modified the system configuration. The combination of these activities yielded a dramatic turnaround.

“Because of the efficiency gains we’ve achieved by implementing the modules, our production has increased by at least 20 additional loads per shift”, said Javier Uribe, Dispatch Lead Engineer at Drummond.

Per Drummond’s calculations, the increased number of loads corresponds to approximately 120 K Bank Cubic Metres (BCMs) of additional material moved per month, or nearly 1.4 M BCMs over the course of a year.

Adapted from an article written by Rhonda Knotts, Marketing Communications & Events Specialist Modular Mining Systems, Inc.

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