Efficient mine planning

ENGINEERS might love tinkering with software but often waste too much time exploring all the functions and features in the latest software packages. Runge Queensland general manager Kevin Holm looks into business process mapping for mine planning.
Efficient mine planning Efficient mine planning Efficient mine planning Efficient mine planning Efficient mine planning

Runge Queensland general manager Kevin Holm

Blair Price

While Runge produces a range of software for the mining industry, Holm still fears many engineers are using unnecessary functions or even duplicating the work required for tasks such as generating a life of mine plan.

“Without a visible, tangible process or workflow, the engineers are really being given an opportunity to experiment and develop a myriad of methods to achieve the outcome,” he told ILN.

“What they are not doing is they are not planning to make a plan.”

Runge made its own journey with business process mapping three to four years ago when engaging a coal industry client which wanted to standardise a mine planning solution across its sites.

Holm said Runge made a mistake by diving straight into its software to see how it could be standardised.

Finding this method very difficult, Runge put its staff through business process mapping training.

After more client consultation, the company mapped out all the tasks required for the job, eliminated task duplication, and produced a documented plan of attack for its coders.

“We then went back to our software solutions and then developed a user interface, on top of all those features and functionalities,” Holm said.

“We found we were only using 10-15 per cent of the functionalities in the software to actually complete the tasks the client wanted done.”

The result was Runge’s Mining Knowledge Platform, a user interface which better controls the use of its established mine scheduling software XPAC.

Time savings so far have been impressive.

Holm said to implement XPAC 7 on a minesite would require a couple of days training for the engineer before he could start developing a scheduling model.

Depending on the time available to the engineers, who also have other tasks, Holm said it could take between three months to a year before they got a software solution up and running with all of the required data and scripts.

But with the Mining Knowledge Platform, engineers were able to start mine scheduling within eight days to two weeks once the data was out of the geological model.

“Now the engineer doesn’t need to know everything about the software,” Holm said.

“He just needs to know how to schedule with the software so he can start immediately whereas previously he had to build the model, import the data and write the scripts before he could actually start scheduling – now he is scheduling straight away.

“Then he can back his way into the software, then starting to learn a little bit more about it. So it certainly does speed the process up.”

The clients onboard with Mining Knowledge Platform include three coal companies operating in Queensland and a large contractor company which operates six or seven mines.

Holm said a lot of large companies were looking for standardisation and the Mining Knowledge Platform created a more controlled environment for engineers to work in, limiting the opportunity for ad hoc experimentation.

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