The finding was one of several to emerge from recent Australian research into improving roadway development rates. The research was funded by the Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP) to identify what was needed to improve roadway development rates.
Researchers said best practice mines exhibited a driven culture, a strong desire to succeed, and a focus on getting things right. Well defined and very prescriptive development processes were typical, with supervisors held accountable for performance against that process. The best mines monitored performance rates on an hourly basis against expected standards, and delays were examined to the minute.
A high degree of involvement of employees across the operation was noted, from process definition to equipment specification, evaluation, and selection for both new equipment and overhaul, and in the continuous improvement of processes through a structured improvement process.
Importantly the report noted that rather than focusing on maximising equipment utilisation, best practice mines focussed on maximising the utilisation and effectiveness of personnel. This was done by providing fit for purpose equipment with high levels of reliability and availability.
This meant these mines tended to have more equipment available to cover times of overhaul and modification as well as during breakdowns.
Furthermore, best practice mines were more aware of developments in new technology, equipment and systems and were more aggressive in applying such developments.
Among better performers roadway development was an area of prioritisation with development teams typically independent of other teams and held accountable for performance. In addition, mines with performance based incentive schemes performed better.
It was noted better performers were more likely to use sequential cutting and bolting with 12CM machines and high capacity shuttle cars.
Better performers were achieving around 100m panel advance in less than 12 hours with a single continuous miner unit, or less than 20 hours with dual continuous miner panels or super units. This achievement was thanks to their attention to detail, good planning and coordination, process control and accountability, the report said.