Roy Hill started automating its drills in April 2017, and since then has established a fleet of nine machines that have been retrofitted with the technology.
But according to Roy Hill’s improvement and smart business general manager Christine Eriksen, automation can blur the lines between key performance indicators (KPIs) and responsibilities from one business area to another.
“When you introduce new technology, it can be seen as a magic tool,” the company said in a statement.
“However the new technology can end up causing problems due to the company spending more on the innovation rather than fixing the process, highlighting and developing the workforce and developing the communication between teams.”
Eriksen said, “That’s why Roy Hill has developed system thinking.”
The system thinking approach works toward a 70 per cent change in management and a 30 per cent change in technology – Roy Hill invested its time, effort and funds in changing the people who work with the technology on the frontline.
This involved communication with people on the ground, encouraging them to have an open mind and to be flexible to change.
It also looks at the interrelationships between people and supply, demand, governance and improvement.
“A system thinking (like Roy Hill’s) has enabled us to understand the relationships between all the maintenance teams,” Eriksen said.
“There were at least seven different teams that were involved in delivering support and maintenance to the drills. Understanding those relations and hand offs was helping to build a sense of collaboration and had a direct impact on the availability on drills.”
In addition, people were encouraged adapt to change quickly, enabled by visualisation techniques that helped supervisors easily see, understand and report to their crew what happened in the last 24 hours and what to expect in the next 24 hours.
As a result, the drills were more productive than expected, and more precise and faster mine planning could be performed.
Eriksen said, “Our drilling and blasting precision is higher. We’ve effectively realised 14 per cent increase with a small reduction in headcount in drilling but no redundancies.”