Thoughts on Improving the Management of Mine Construction Projects

By Alexandre
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Did you know that only 13% of all projects and programs are launched as planned without a major shift in resources?

You don’t need to tell Program Managers at Engineering Procurement and Construction Management (ECMP) companies that their jobs are more challenging than ever. They know it firsthand. Fundamentally, the business environment for mine construction has changed, perhaps irrevocably, in the face of dropping commodity prices and fewer mine construction projects. But that’s not the whole story. Competition over fewer projects mean EPCM companies must bid more aggressively. Yet, there is little room for error in those bids as the smallest of errors can quickly cause constructions programs to run at a loss.

On top of all this, the complexity of constructing a mine is higher than ever. Mine construction sites might be located in harsh environments, driving the need for safety protocols. They also might be located in dangerous locales that mandate new security procedures. Furthermore, the opportunity to control cost and quality is driving movement towards pre-fabricated construction components that are assembled on-site.

All this translates to new and more difficult tasks for Program Managers. They’re now charged with cutting costs, hewing to tighter and tighter budget demands, and working with more globally distributed project stakeholders than ever. They must track deliverables across a multitude of functional organizations, including engineering, procurement, fabrication and construction in an ever-widening supply chain. Despite all of these compounding complexities, the program must be executed on time and on budget within a much slimmer margin for error.

These trends and challenges also threaten one of the Program Manager’s most critical enablers: program visibility. Visibility into program status is critical. It enables Program Managers to identify issues early, before they turn into emergencies. It allows them to define and pursue corrective action. And without corrective action, projects run off the rails. Unfortunately, the reality of mine construction today is that most projects are failing in the face of these conditions. Lifecycle Insights findings from The PLM Study found that only 13% of all projects and programs are launched as planned without a major shift in resources.

There is some hope, however. Technology can provide missing visibility into program status. But common methods to track status, like routing physically printed forms, or emailing digital documents or using desktop project management applications, have major drawbacks. And they share one critical flaw: they must be manually updated to depict the actual, present state of the program.

There is a better answer: the Enterprise Business Platform. The technology platform offers the range of functions the many different program stakeholders need. Program Managers have an always-up-to-date program status picture thanks to the technology, because it connects and draws upon the disparate aspects of the program.

Excerpt from Program Management for Mine Construction: Delivering Programs on Time and On Budget, by Chad Jackson, an analyst, researcher and blogger with Lifecycle Insights.

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Download Mr. Jackson’s free eBook, “Program Management for Mine Construction: Delivering Programs on Time and On Budget” to read the rest of the story.

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Follow Dassault Systèmes Natural Resources Industry on Twitter: @3DSNR

On the web: 3DS.com/natural-resources/

Leveraging the Industrial Internet of Things

By Alexandre
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Mining is not a single process but a sequence of processes managed across the supply chain, from geology studies to commodity shipment. The efficiency of mining production can be improved by enhancing the interaction of its different processes by employing a Business Platform that bridges the gap between Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technologies.  Ultimately, the merging of these worlds will provide management with higher confidence in operational performance as critical decisions are made using real-time data.

The existing methods of creating a holistic view of a mining operation usually result in a view of what happened too far in the past to be of real value in the present. Too often this view is constructed at too infrequent intervals. Often, late updating of this view occurs because of the time involved to gather data, compile it, and the limitations of the systems used to do so (spreadsheets, for example). As an example, blasting at a mine site may continue to occur even after a new survey has concluded that what was thought to be high grade area is not.

Ultimately, the root of the problem is that IT and OT systems do not provide the data required by decision-makers. To do so, an enabling platform must be employed that collects data from across the operation, delivering it where and when it is needed, in the right context for different mining roles.

Industrial Internet technologies have already provided benefits in the manufacturing industry (applied through what is widely called “Industry 4.0”). These systems have delivered automated consolidation of data to enable near real-time management.

Industry 4.0 is the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. Industry 4.0 creates what has been called a “smart factory”. Within the modular structured smart factories, cyber-physical systems monitor physical processes, create a virtual copy of the physical world and make decentralized decisions. Over the Internet of Things, cyber-physical systems communicate and cooperate with each other and with humans in real time; both internal and cross-organizational services are offered and used by participants of the value chain.

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Download the full story in the white paper:

“Leveraging the Industrial Internet and Industry 4.0″

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Follow Dassault Systèmes Natural Resources Industry on Twitter: @3DSNR

On the web: 3DS.com/natural-resources/

Where Operational Stability Fits in Your Business

By Alexandre
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All mining operations have a number of planning routines that occur throughout the year, which are often referred to as “the planning process”. Generally speaking these planning routines fall into four separate categories:

  1. Strategic Planning – This looks at big picture issues such as should we be selling or acquiring an asset.
  2. Integrated Mine Plan – Often referred to as Life of Mine Planning and takes the longer term view specific to an asset; however, most effort is put into annual and quarterly plans.
  3. Short Term Planning (STP) – Also known as Work Management, it the execution discipline to build a culture of reliability – are we hitting the quarterly and annual budget numbers? Generally speaking the time horizon for STP is inside one month with specific attention to the upcoming week.
  4. Continuous Improvement Planning. All mining companies run these four planning process concurrently. However, STP is the focus of this discussion. The quality of detailed planning (drive short term planning) is often not sufficient to deliver the level Operational Stability that is expected from senior executives, shareholders and other stakeholders.

The primary purpose of drive short term planning is to reliably deliver on short-term plans and schedules established by the mine management. This area of planning is primarily focused on the next 30 days. Generally speaking, variation at the task execution level is driving a large percentage of the variation that results in shortfalls in short term production targets. Improving short-term plans activities can often lead to 10 – 20% improvement in the unit costs with little or no additional capital.

Short Term Planning is comprised of three separate planning steps:

  1. Planning — Here we are planning all aspects of task execution down to the shift level. We are focused on people, equipment, supplies and task location.
  2. Scheduling — Schedules for all the aspects of each task on a shift-to-shift basis.
  3. Execution — All activities relating directly to task execution.

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Read more about operational stability and how to realize it in your business in the eBook “Six Steps to Operational Stability”

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Follow Dassault Systèmes Natural Resources Industry on Twitter: @3DSNR

On the web: 3DS.com/natural-resources/



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