If you work in mining, you know how siloed it can feel: mining sites themselves are large and remote, and staying up-to-date with your staff and equipment across multiple sites can be daunting. But your business depends on doing so: margins in the aggregate mining industry are already razor-thin, putting everyone under pressure to do more with less. While there’s little you can do about rising fuel and labor costs, what you can improve is operational excellence and efficiency.
Here are three ways technology helps drive a more connected workflow so you can gain greater insights into your company:
Collecting and combining data in a single view to optimize mine performance: From fuel usage to idle time and location information, there’s no shortage of equipment data to analyze. But if it isn’t available in real-time to everyone from on-site workers to managers and executives, this can lead to asset mismanagement and delay urgent decisions.
Tools like a Unified Production Report (UPR) assists in managing all forms of mining operation. For example, it helps optimizing jobsite haul cycles, minimize queuing, regulate speed of equipment, and adjust vehicle loads. It also shows hourly, daily, weekly and monthly output per jobsite, helps site managers manage productivity and stay on track to meet production and business goals.
Plus, automating data collection saves labor costs and time, and consolidating all data into a single interface streamlines the process so that everyone on your team can access the same data simultaneously. This not only leads to improved project management and communication, it provides valuable insights that can help with real-time decision-making and long-term planning.
Optimizing costs: According to the Teletrac Navman Construction Benchmark report, 75 percent of companies use telematics for fleet management and equipment tracking, which provides data on when and how much each machine across multiple sites is used. Applying this data to optimize fuel usage, maintenance and decisions around equipment quantities directly impacts costs.
For example, telematics helps track fuel usage: if a machine isn’t operated the right way or at the correct speed, managers can communicate instructions to correct it and cut down on wasted fuel. Or, if a machine is idle for too long, telematics systems automatically send notifications, alerting staff to the issue and allowing for swift redeployment. And minimizing idle time is a simple way to help the bottom line: excessive equipment idle time directly impacts companies’ profit margins.
On the other hand, maybe operators are overworking machines: in this case, telematics helps managers see how sending in an additional machine, or deploying a different piece of equipment, could impact workflow. Using the data helps you achieve an optimal equipment count at each site. Once you have some historical data stored, you can also quickly and easily calculate an accurate picture of your current costs and future budget projections.
Maintenance is another area where using telematics helps save money, mainly through monitoring how equipment runs (such as automatically tracking, for example, fault codes, fuel burn, or tire pressure) to extend equipment life. Per the construction benchmark report, nearly 100 percent of organizations experience unexpected equipment failure each year, and 75 percent of those say unexpected equipment failure affects around 11 percent of their equipment each year. Since even one piece of malfunctioning equipment can delay a project or require overtime work, it’s easy to see how equipment failure has the potential to rapidly derail a project’s budget. That’s why staying on top of preventative maintenance is key, and telematics systems keep tabs on how the equipment is running and notify managers when it’s time for a scheduled service. This gives them the ability to plan and schedule on-time maintenance, catching potential problems in advance and reducing unplanned downtime.
Safety and performance: Telematics devices can also measure, track and reveal operator behavior like harsh braking, speeding (on the road and at the mine site) or equipment overuse that managers wouldn’t otherwise be able to observe. Following these trends in the telematics data gives managers the chance to address and correct potentially dangerous equipment use in real-time and provides insight into use patterns that can inform future training programs and safety protocols. Per the construction benchmark report above, nearly one-third of companies using telematics technology report fewer accidents. Improved safety also helps profitability, as accidents during on-road transportation of the aggregates lead to fines and poor safety ratings.
Incorporating any new technology takes time and adjustment, but companies will see significant ROI as they expand the use of telematics. As aggregate mining companies look to the future, it’s clear technology is a necessary competitive advantage. Ensuring everyone from operators to managers to executives can access the same high-quality, real-time data empowers them to make the best decisions possible.
Read more to learn how telematics technology can improve connectivity on your mining site.