Effective production monitoring in open pit mines: Beyond the technology

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 97, No. 1081, 2004

P.L. Richard

An open pit a mine can be thought of as a business unit, with capital, operating and maintenance costs that exceed those of many large business enterprises. Truck-and-shovel operations have an inherent “looseness” to them, unlike manufacturing or processing operations where production components are tightly coupled (through conveyors, material flow in pipes, assembly lines, and so on). Effective monitoring and control of truck-and-shovel operations requires a combination of both information systems and performance management. Production monitoring systems can impact operations at three levels: minute-by-minute decisions during the shift, procedures, and policies. The technology of production monitoring ranges from real-time data collection to manual entry of time card data into a computer. Time card information is too coarse to effectively manage a multi-million dollar fleet of mobile equipment, so a higher level of production monitoring is required. People issues affect whether the implementation will be a success or a disappointment. Considerations that affect the people issues are discussed, including common obstacles, and key success factors. A balanced scorecard approach must be used, since uni-dimensional measures of performance like tons produced give no indication of whether the production was achieved at the expense of another factor.