Below the Surface: 3 Ways to Close the Gap Between Planning and Operations

Think about the frustration of standing just too far away from someone to hear them: Lost information, misunderstanding, and resorting to other slower, less accurate methods like lip-reading or passing notes.

Now amplify this by a couple thousand kilometers of dirt, rocks, and minerals. As mineral deposits become scarcer and open pit mining becomes less economically feasible, mines are digging deeper below the surface only to come face to face with this problem.

The gap between planning and operations: two siloed departments working in a challenging environment with poor communication infrastructure.

During my site visits, I realized how large this gap really was. Planning would report a production of 100 tonnes, only to see 40% less at the end of the month. The gap between actual and planned production was often in the double digits.

This can mean huge financial costs and issues for your future operations, negatively impacting your bottom line.

Here are three ways you can close the gap between planning and operations in your underground mine:

  1. Cross-deliver information between teams

Your planning team is busy designing the production plan: how material should be moved, and developments executed. This information should be easy for equipment operators to understand, translated into tasks they will perform during their shifts.

As operators execute these tasks in various workplaces, work can be monitored to deliver information such as location, equipment, operator, and task progress. If for any reason there are deviations from the plan, this information can be passed back to the planning team quickly, and accurately.

  1. Proactive Management with actionable data

Misalignment between the plan and production is the challenge supervisors face. When these teams have the actionable information they need, the door opens to a more proactive management style, easily visualizing next steps and making changes before issues arise.

If operators advance faster than expected, there is an opportunity to move forward with other tasks, increasing productivity. When operators or equipment take longer, changes must be made to ensure the plan is back on track. Improving the flow of information means decisions are transparent for everyone. You can be confident in making the right decision, in the right place, at the right time.

  1. Digitization through innovative technology

As mines look to digitalize their operations, investing in new technologies is a must. Many open-pit solutions exist, but mining in an underground environment comes with its own unique challenges that can differ from mine to mine. This means identifying innovative technologies designed specifically for underground. HxGN MineOperate UG Pro is an integrated, underground fleet management solution that is already closing the gap in underground operations at mine sites around the world. It is a critical first step in digitizing manually captured activities, allowing you to track and manage underground fleet equipment in real-time, ensuring they’re operating together as efficiently as possible.

Technology advancements can create simple solutions for our biggest challenges. Just like phones closed the gap between people who are otherwise too far away to hear, a good fleet management system can close the gap between your planning and operations teams underground.

Marcelo Romero, Senior Product Portfolio Manager, Operations, Safety & Machine Health

Marcelo has been involved with integrating safety, fleet management systems, machine guidance, and machine health technologies for open pit and underground since joining Hexagon Mining in 2014. With around 20 years’ fleet management experience, Marcelo was an account manager for Mexico and the U.S, a machine guidance specialist, a global technical expert engineer for health maintenance solutions, and deployment and support engineer in Chile. He has an Electronics Engineering degree with a major in automation from Federico Santa Maria Technical University in Chile.

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