6 questions to tell you if your operation has reached full potential

By Markus Rebmann | November 29, 2016

At a recent conference in the Middle East, I spoke with many executives from mining and process industries. The problems and challenges they’re facing are similar to those my clients here at home talk about: a down cycle with over two years of collapsing margins and low metal prices. And impatient shareholders wanting their returns to start improving…now.


The low-hanging fruit has been picked. So what now? How can you drive improvement and value when you’ve already reduced external spend, divested yourself of non-core assets, and reduced overhead every way you can?

Here are six questions that can help you determine if there are ways to do more with—and get more from—the operation you’ve got.

Are your assets running as hard as they could be? 
Are you firefighting and focusing on breakdown maintenance? Or anticipating tomorrow’s problems and solving them before they seriously impact production. By tracking how equipment is used and shaving off even small amounts of down time, you can maximize availability…and productivity. Having equipment available 85 to 90 percent of the time is good. But what if you could monitor it better with today’s digital systems and bring that figure to 95 or even 97 percent? That’s what the world’s best operators are achieving. It’s worth investigating.

Is your business intelligence accurate and useful? 
Much of the information and data that mining and processing operations have at their disposal is never translated into insights that can help you manage the business more effectively. By fully investigating and analyzing the information you already have, you’ll be able to maximize the potential of your assets. Discover strategies that can keep plans agile and responsive so you can get your operation firing on all cylinders.

Are your operating practices synchronized and seamless? 
Every control room operator has his or her own preferred set points and unique risk profile. Getting everyone’s agreement about the best way to operate equipment—how, when, and under what conditions—reduces variability. That will save time and money, and make the operation more productive and safer.

Is new technology working for you? 
Better, more efficient methods and practices, like autonomous trucks and remote operations, have already earned their stripes in other industries. Electrification can cut fuel costs and digital infrastructure can make communication virtually instantaneous. Sensors and technology can now support underground work in real time or near-real time, reporting metrics and data that can translate into efficiency, increased safety, and economies of scale. Get expert advice to be sure you have the right configurations and mix of business-specific tools, enterprise systems, cloud computing, and digital asset management.

Is your workplace culture aligned? 
Old barriers are breaking down, and that applies to workplace roles and responsibilities, too. Be sure your employees see leaders modeling the behaviors you want to encourage. The biggest challenges can be tackled and wrestled to the ground when workers believe they can actually do something to improve overall conditions and company performance. Rewarding them for results that move the needle in the right direction can be positive for everyone. Recognize and appreciate their efforts.

Have you partnered with suppliers and service providers? 
Your suppliers are ready and willing to do more. They can work with you, tapping into the right places in the supply chain so you get the world’s best equipment or consumables. They’re often connected to a broad network of high-quality skills, so you can get best practices, services, and resources, too.

Did you answer “no” to two or more questions? If so, your operation has potential that’s waiting to be unlocked. Start now. Your competitors have already begun checking off items on this list. By standing still, you’re sliding back further. Greater efficiency, better production, and a healthier bottom line is realistic and attainable. Especially in a slow business cycle.




The low-hanging fruit has been picked. So what now? How can you drive improvement and value when you’ve already reduced external spend, divested yourself of non-core assets, and reduced overhead every way you can?

Here are six questions that can help you determine if there are ways to do more with—and get more from—the operation you’ve got.

Are your assets running as hard as they could be? Are you firefighting and focusing on breakdown maintenance? Or anticipating tomorrow’s problems and solving them before they seriously impact production. By tracking how equipment is used and shaving off even small amounts of down time, you can maximize availability…and productivity. Having equipment available 85 to 90 percent of the time is good. But what if you could monitor it better with today’s digital systems and bring that figure to 95 or even 97 percent? That’s what the world’s best operators are achieving. It’s worth investigating.

Is your business intelligence accurate and useful? Much of the information and data that mining and processing operations have at their disposal is never translated into insights that can help you manage the business more effectively. By fully investigating and analyzing the information you already have, you’ll be able to maximize the potential of your assets. Discover strategies that can keep plans agile and responsive so you can get your operation firing on all cylinders.

Are your operating practices synchronized and seamless? Every control room operator has his or her own preferred set points and unique risk profile. Getting everyone’s agreement about the best way to operate equipment—how, when, and under what conditions—reduces variability. That will save time and money, and make the operation more productive and safer.

Is new technology working for you? Better, more efficient methods and practices, like autonomous trucks and remote operations, have already earned their stripes in other industries. Electrification can cut fuel costs and digital infrastructure can make communication virtually instantaneous. Sensors and technology can now support underground work in real time or near-real time, reporting metrics and data that can translate into efficiency, increased safety, and economies of scale. Get expert advice to be sure you have the right configurations and mix of business-specific tools, enterprise systems, cloud computing, and digital asset management.

Is your workplace culture aligned? Old barriers are breaking down, and that applies to workplace roles and responsibilities, too. Be sure your employees see leaders modeling the behaviors you want to encourage. The biggest challenges can be tackled and wrestled to the ground when workers believe they can actually do something to improve overall conditions and company performance. Rewarding them for results that move the needle in the right direction can be positive for everyone. Recognize and appreciate their efforts.

Have you partnered with suppliers and service providers? Your suppliers are ready and willing to do more. They can work with you, tapping into the right places in the supply chain so you get the world’s best equipment or consumables. They’re often connected to a broad network of high-quality skills, so you can get best practices, services, and resources, too.

Did you answer “no” to two or more questions? If so, your operation has potential that’s waiting to be unlocked. Start now. Your competitors have already begun checking off items on this list. By standing still, you’re sliding back further. Greater efficiency, better production, and a healthier bottom line is realistic and attainable. Especially in a slow business cycle.