Operator Variations Impact Mine Plan

Those operational miners amongst us know intuitively that the variation in operator behaviour has an impact on a plan. What we have never truly understood is how large that impact is.

Some people have tried to estimate it and others have attempted to remove it. This is one of the reasons why automation is so attractive.



There has for a long time been numerous ways to establish that there is in fact variation created by operators but there has not been a clear understanding as to what drives the variation and how that behaviour actually impacts the plan.

Being able to understand the size of the variation between the operators and then the reason for those variations is the first step in this process. The second step is then removing it.



This project/study had three key outcomes:

  1. How much variation is there between operators?
  2. What is the size of the opportunity?
  3. If it is worth chasing then how can the variation be reduced?

How Much Variation Is There?

In this instance the MaxMine System was able to clearly show that the variation between operators was as high as 61% in different sections of the mine. However as the automated system dug deeper into the data other issues started to emerge. The planned speed in numerous sections of this mine is 40 kph empty however the average fleet speed in these areas is 22 kph. Additionally the top speed of the trucks was only 35 kph at no point did any of the trucks get about this speed.

The impact of this prior to MaxMine was focused in areas that would not ultimately impact the overall plan.

What Is The Size Of The Opportunity?

This particular site was not achieving it’s planned numbers and were off by about 15-20%. The variation between the planned speeds and the actual speeds indicated that even a 50% improvement in reducing the variation would potentially lead to an increase in overall output of between 12-17%.

Should This Variation Be Pursued?

The clear answer he was a unanimous yes, so the next question was how.

How The Variation Was Reduced?

In this instance there were a number of elements to be addressed some could be completed straight away, others were staged in their approach.

Firstly, the plan had to be addressed, if the actuals did not meet the targets/planned numbers then why?

For one the trucks had, unknown to the operation, been governed to a maximum speed of 35kph. This was immediately addressed with OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer).

So the remaining gap between actuals and planned; these were being caused by operator behaviour either lack of attention to the job or running tracks.

What was found is that a large number of sections across the mine were not in a condition to run the trucks on at the planned speed, therefore the operators were slowing down to look after themselves and the trucks.

Using the MaxMine Haul Road Condition reporting feature and some additional adhoc plotting tools the operation assisted by the MaxMine Site Coach were able to establish key focus areas and target those areas for maintenance and rebuilds first.

The next phase was the roll out to the crews, and in this particular instance the unions had to be engaged as well to ensure that all parties understood the benefits for all. The fix here was a simple display of operator efficiency provided through the MaxMine Wallboards across site.



Shortly after the initial role out of the operator efficiency reporting tool was rolled out numerous sections across the site saw uplifts of average speed by 20 to 40%.

The trucks governing has been adjust to suit the plan.

The haul roads across the site have and are being addressed on a priority basis identified using the MaxMine system.

Short term gains hit the target and longer term gains delivered the desired results of being able to more effectively plan and then deliver on that plan.