With the mining industry pushing hard for improvement and cost reduction, one of the areas coming into focus is labour productivity. There have been many time on tools studies conducted and clearly, there is an opportunity to improve, but how can we achieve improvements quickly and in a sustainable manner?
Bluefield has shown that in order to become efficient and productive, there is a pre-requisite basic requirement to ensure that the work being completed is first at a minimum standard of quality. Labour productivity improvement requires detailed planning and scheduling but if the scheduled work is interrupted by unscheduled events due to less than adequate quality, the business needs a greater workforce to manage these interruptions. Obtaining the correct focus on quality only takes a couple of months to achieve. (See related article)
So how can we create an environment where productivity is improving?
A perfectly efficient, scheduled maintenance day would require a perfect plan. Unfortunately, there is no perfect plan but it is something that we must continually strive to achieve. This requires a regular review of the scheduled maintenance activities and open communication between the planning and execution teams. It also requires the execution team to follow the schedule and capture the details about delays and problems experienced. If the teams are working together, the plans can start to improve as they come up with solutions to the problems identified. Developing this culture can also be created relatively quickly with the right leadership commitment. (See related article)
How can we take it to the next level like a pit stop?
In order to take the labour productivity to the next level and minimise the downtime of the equipment, we need to incorporate lean principles into the work procedures, job design, and planning. The Single Minute Exchange Die (SMED) program has been used successfully in the industry but often people can not relate to the terminology as it is manufacturing based. Bluefield has translated this to Single Minute Maintenance (SMM) and used mining terminology to develop a process that the front line and planning resources can utilise to analyse tasks in order to reduce the equipment downtime and labour hours required to execute the task. In facilitating these types of projects for clients recently Bluefield was able to identify productivity improvements of up to 50% for repetitive tasks. The process is very simple but requires time to look critically at tasks, break them down into sub-tasks, identify the opportunities then action the necessary changes.
The Figure below shows the 6 simple steps for using this process to analyse a specific task or job.
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