• Joe Atkinson

5 Ways to Improve Communication between the Pit and your FMS Control Room

Updated: Oct 30


As more operations in the mining industry implement the latest mining technology (such as Cat minestar fleet management system), there is a growing demand to begin harnessing these innovative mining solutions to boost mining efficiency and reduce operational costs. One of the primary value drivers of any automated fleet management or dispatch system is the ability to run automatic assignments.


In this blog, we discuss some simple solutions to mining problems, and some innovative mining solutions using the latest mining technology that could help your site harness these systems more effectively.


However, there is a significant hurdle that is often overlooked in the mining industry when implementing these systems: Improving communication between the pit and the control room!


In our mining consultancy experience, it is rare that this critical change happens proactively. Instead, this step is usually only considered much later, when relations between the pit teams and the dispatchers have often broken down, and confidence in the mining technology is damaged. (If your mine has avoided this, we applaud you! If it hasn’t then please read on!)


Mining Problems and Solutions: Communicate (and discuss!) the Shift Plan


Ensure the dispatchers are included in the start of shift planning meeting. Make sure they are part of the discussion, and importantly make sure they are informed of any planned operational delays such as blasting, planned maintenance and other stoppages.


Loading tool, mining block, and blending priorities should be clearly outlined. This will assist in ensuring that the dispatchers have the information needed to run the shift as per the plan - rather than just tonnes/productivity which is how any fleet management system will “naturally” operate without being given specific goals.


Finally (but most importantly!) we wholeheartedly believe that the Dispatch Team should take control of coordinating trucks during planned stoppages - rather then, for example, a shovel being stopped by the Pit Team for fueling… and the dispatcher only finding out much later on.


MTS's Jonny Witter training MineStar FMS Supervisors in Lesotho

Solutions to Mining Problems: A Culture of Open Communications


The Pit Team should not be afraid of visiting the control room to discuss issues that may arise during the shift (we suggest this is even beneficial!). Equally, the Dispatchers should not be frightened to radio the in-pit team to understand why specific actions were taken. Regular round table debrief sessions can be good if held in a distraction-free room.


Although at some operations it doesn’t always feel like it, everyone is on the same side. All individuals should be confident to express their views and don’t shy away from constructive discussions. Learn how to maintain an open channel of communication and your operation will soon see boosts in productivity and morale.


Latest Mining Technology: Mobile Dashboards for Production Supervisors and Foremen


Fitting the supervisor’s light vehicles with portable monitors, or using handheld tablets, can enable crucial KPIs to be pushed out to the Pit Team in near real-time.


The ability to send loading rates or queuing times to an in-vehicle dashboard can go a long way towards providing the supervisors and foremen with the “bigger picture” behind your fleet management system's automatic assignments.


This can then help to avoid angry phone calls to the control room asking why EX03 doesn’t have any trucks, improve confidence in mining technology and lower the risk of misunderstandings and miscommunications between the control room and the pit supervisors.


An example of how mobile dashboards can help disseminate information effectively between the Control Room and the Pit Supervisors.

Mining Problems and Solutions: Control Room Handover Notes


Develop a method of recording handover information. This should be used to convey important on-shift information that is not automatically created or captured by the fleet management system. Both the minestar technology dispatchers and pit supervisors should add their comments and unique context to shift performance vs. production goals. The incoming crew will also get to see this important information which in term will help them out with their shift.


Innovative Mining Solutions: Automated Shift Plan Compliance Reporting


We have assisted a number of operations in the mining industry who have chosen to begin combining “the plan” vs. “what actually happened” within automated end-of-shift reporting.


Compliance to plan reporting can initially be quite complex to set up due to all the various mining data nuances, this type of reporting can pay dividends by keeping the mine on track with the plan… rather than everybody getting a horrible surprise when the end of week or end of month reconciliation is done.


Over the next few months, we are going to be heavily involved with a lot of process work to develop innovative mining solutions to assist a number of mines in improving this critical area. Take a look at our services in this area for previous clients.


Stay tuned for more blog articles around this topic - and if you wish to learn more about how MTS can assist you, please drop us a line here.

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