An introduction to the challenges
With a great deal of focus on productivity, many miners have started to look at adopting short interval control philosophies into their mining operations. Short interval control implies a review of inter-shift performance; this by itself is not a new term to miners, but only recently digital technologies are enabling miners to have a relook, to define it holistically considering the large volumes of data that is available for driving insight. A simplistic approach would find a detailed scheduling with a visual work management feedback approach as the opportunity, but there is much more to it than just a focus on aspects of reviewing the production process and real-time process visibility.
Short interval control can be defined as a structured process for identifying and acting on opportunities to improve the effectiveness moreover, the efficiency of production1 . It is a factory-floor process for driving production improvements during the shift. Each shift is split into short intervals of time (four hours initially), within which plant-floor employees use data to identify and implement improvement actions.2
Mining industry has had a laser sharp focus on improving utilization. With emergence of autonomous haulage systems, autonomous drills, driverless trains, online analyzers, field mobile devices for data acquisition there is a lot more data available within the shift today. There alsoexists many sites with a minimal level of automation; hence there are questions that need to be answered to define Short Interval Control in today’s context. Some of the issues we hear are:
- In the past, we would have to wait until the end of the shift to generate a production report, but we now have much information available in real-time on the shift. How can I use this data smartly and intelligently?
- The level of automation may vary across the different operations. Is there an approach that can take recognition of this operating context?
- Is this a one-off project with purely a systems approach? To what extent is a culture change needed in work practices?
- We already have real-time fleet visibility and detailed scheduling as well as a control room environment. Haven’t we already established a level of short interval control?
All the above are relevant questions to consider within the operating context hence a framework to encompass these becomes a necessity.
Short interval control building blocks
Hence let us look at what components a short interval control may include as depicted in the diagram below