Getting Started With a Digital Short Interval Control System in Mining

As we explained in an earlier post, Short Interval Control (or SIC) is a framework of structured processes that help miners identify and act on opportunities to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of production within a shift. SIC is typically implemented as a series of short and focused review meetings – the objective of which is to identify and react to emerging problems which could adversely affect production, and also to use data to determine improvement opportunities for upcoming shifts.

For years, underground miners have been effective in managing SIC operations on paper. However, in light of economic uncertainties and a global decline in mining productivity over the last decade, miners are increasingly turning to digital innovations to optimize operations and cut costs. Companies have shifted from traditional methods of paper-based data collection to recording data on digital devices such as smartphones and tablets – to eliminate the possibility of manual errors and ensure data completeness and timeliness. Modern implementations of SIC use real-time data to guide instantaneous front-line decision making.

To get started with a Digital Short Interval Control System, here’s what mine supervisors, operation controllers, and operators must do differently:


Mine Supervisors and Operation Controllers

Get crew related information on tablet or web browser (laptop/desktop) instead of reading off a paper.
  • Heading and equipment allocations
  • Task progress by the operator
  • Equipment pre-ops, post-ops, workplace inspections
  • Reports: Tons hauled, equipment availability & utilization
Input everything on the tablet, smartphones or web browser instead of writing on paper.
  • Review & conduct workplace inspections
  • Edit tasks & production data if needed
Use tablet in place of radios.
  • Communicate digitally for non-urgent matters to help keep frequencies less busy.

Operators

  • Get task allocations on the tablet, instead of reading off paper
  • Input everything on the tablet, instead of writing on paper
    • Equipment pre-ops and post-ops
    • Workplace inspections
    • Production data
    • Down/delay/standby status
  • Use the tablet for non-urgent items

With a Digital Short Interval Control System for mining, mine supervisors, and operation controllers can review at shift change, where production stands relative to plan, and allocate tasks, headings and equipment to operators to meet the plan. Operators receive tasks on their tablets and can track whether they are on track to finish a task during the shift. Supervisors can track safety issues and respond to downtimes/delays as and when they occur and can change tasks, operators, and equipment based on current conditions.

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