A digital strategy to manage your site is now a must-have, not a nice-to-have.
By Jason Threewitts
“That’s the way we’ve always done it…”
“Of course, we need to work over time to meet sales goal…”
“They are our most experienced operators, so they have to but doing it right…”
“Let’s cut our blasting budget to save money…”
“We need 5% more production…”
Today, these statements are commonplace in many quarry, large dirt, and sand operations. What’s less common is the right data, presented in the right way, to the right people to support these statements. How do you know the way you’ve always done it is the most strategic way to do things today? How can you be sure your most experienced operators are also your most efficient? How are you going to achieve a 5% increase in an economical, sustainable way?
Without a proper digital strategy to measure site operations, most customers are not taking full advantage to all the benefits data analytics has to offer. Here, we outline three ways a more strategic digital strategy would benefit your site.
1. Training for world class operations.
If you are having trouble finding qualified operators, you aren’t alone. Today’s average operator class has a nearly 35-year tenure, but most sites don’t have a bench ready to take their place. Because of this, having a thorough training process is critical to survival. But, it’s no longer enough to rely on your OEM’s professional trainers. Today, training includes tools and processes that measure and reinforce good habits. These tools create accountability and ownership to help budding new operators (and sometimes more experienced operators as well!) maintain their newfound skills. Truck load times consistently hitting the mark and being reinforced with current, relevant data, turns your training program into a sustainable and repeatable success.
2. Identify the cost of blasting and how it impacts the rest of the operation.
How does poor shot performance in the pit truly impact the rest of the operation? Being able to accurately identify (negatively or positively) what impact the cost of a blast has on the loading, hauling and crushing segment of the business is critical. Without the right data, determining a sweet spot for powder factor, hole pattern, and depth can be little more than a guessing game. Rather, a succinct digital strategy will arm you with the information to determine whether budgeting slightly more in blasting can positively move the needle on loads per hour, tons per hour, and reduce the amount of ‘large rock’ needing to be managed.
3. Optimize your mobile operations and your stationary operations.
Conducting time studies across your operation are a tried and true means of gathering productivity data on your site. These studies are great for capturing benchmark data for a finite period in time. However, traditional time motion studies are not the most reliable source of information. Outside of being a manual, arduous effort, your results are naturally skewed when operators know they are being watched. (Suddenly, everyone is on their best behavior!) Those skewed results are then used as the basis for multi-million-dollar decisions on assets and budgets for the year. A comprehensive digital strategy regularly gives you the pulse of your operation allowing you to truly optimize your fleet deployment and capital expenses. You’ll no longer being relying on one finite point of time that may or may not reflect the day-to-day happenings of your site.
For too long segments of the natural resources industry have relied on gut feelings and good guesses to manage their operations. Rather than shooting blind and hoping for the best, put the right data, presented in the right way, in front of the right people with a comprehensive digital strategy.