Mine on track with real-time feedback

Dawson mine in Queensland Australia is a shining example of how a real-time machine production monitoring and integrated fleet management solution can be implemented successfully across a 117km mine site, assisting decision-making and productivity.

Following Dawson mine’s decision to move from a paper-based data collection system to a new generation of integrated mining systems, Leica Geosystems has recently spent three months rolling out the systems valued at more than AUS $3.3m across the mine site.

During the project, various machine automation modules to monitor and control the whole fleet at Dawson mine were installed. These included three Dragline Monitors, as well as four Drill Navigation Systems, Dozer Guidance Systems, Fleet Monitoring Systems and Leica’s new Pit Ops software that integrates all of the machine data into one software package. This allows dispatchers to quickly and easily see the mine operations and make informed decisions maximising productivity.

The mine itself is covered by a radio network to give saturated coverage for GPS corrections and real time data exchange over the mine site.

In the early project planning stage a key decision was taken by Dawson to implement a Dispatch Supervisor role with responsibility for coordinating overall mine logistics, using the new Pit Ops software.

Leica Geosystems integrated mine management system provides Dawson mine’s machine operators and site managers with key real-time information for production monitoring.

Dawson Commercial Manager Bruce Robey said implementation of the new integrated systems by Leica staff has run very smoothly.

“The team from Leica Geosystems’ have been extremely product knowledgeable and have gone out of their way to assist Dawson in making this project a success to date. Leica staff made sure each user of the system understood what they needed to do,” he said.

“Automating a mine site can be met with a lot of resistance as has been seen on other mine sites in the past. However, good communication by Dawson management with all staff on site in the lead up to and during the implementation process, combined with Leica Geosystems’ professionalism and attention to detail, has resulted in high operator acceptance and all involved supporting the many positive benefits of the new systems.”


Leica Geosystems’ Vice President of Mining Systems Geoff Baldwin said Leica’s integrated fleet management solution is rapidly becoming known as a one-stop shop for mines to implement real-time operator, dispatcher, and management feedback to drive productivity gains with ease.

“Leica is proud to be involved in the Dawson project. We have never seen a better implementation of a fleet monitoring system across a mine site ever. The key has been proper planning and total management commitment,” he said.

“John Taylor, Director of Tailored Business Solutions, who consults to Dawson mine on this project, has played an instrumental role in providing the management and vision required to make it a success from strategic planning through to site communication and installations.

Taylor said that managing the change process initially at the management level and then identifying key stakeholders and owners of the various system components was key to the project.

“When implementing a technology solution, which opens up the opportunity to do business differently, it is essential that there is equal balance given to aligning business process and organisation accountabilities around the new technologies. This integrated approach, supported by Leica, has been a major contributor to the success achieved to date,” Taylor said.

Baldwin said that overall, the entire project has been well orchestrated by John Taylor, Dawson mine and Leica Geosystems’ staff.

“It highlights the success that can be achieved on any mine site when we work together for the greater good — productivity gains,” he said.

Time critical

Dawson’s Operations Co-ordinator Stuart Brown who has been heavily involved in the implementation of Leica Geosystems’ fleet management systems across the mine, said running a mine is all about doing it safely and efficiently and that means time and resource management is critical.

“Leica’s systems have enabled our staff to better understand what our fleet of machines are doing time wise allowing us to more effectively manage the controllable delays. When you lose productive time on a machine or group of machines, it’s critical to understand why this occurred.

Brown said the level of information and accuracy that Leica Geosystems’ solutions can provide recently helped with an internal project Anglo Coal Australia was operating to find out the best way to control ‘hot seat’ changes at the start and end of shifts.

“Knowing what the actual time loss is and whether it is due to lunch breaks, fueling, a lack of trucks, or too many trucks made all the difference to finding a successful outcome. Leica Geosystems’ fleet monitoring systems helped provide the feedback needed,” he said.

Brown said access to real-time feedback also allows Dawson to compare its productivity to that of other Anglo Coal mines via the intranet. In this way, productivity can be measured at another level.

Dawson dispatcher Neil Pollard agreed that real-time operator feedback was making a big difference to productivity management.

“From the control room, I can see on screen where our vehicles are on site, delays, breakdowns, hot seat changeovers, and generally how efficiently our site is working,” he said.

“With such credible data we are able to swap trucks around the site to where they are needed or can be better utilised before our on-site supervisors can see the problems in the field. Leica’s fleet management system has really opened up our eyes to actual machine utilisation.”

Pollard said being able to see our real-time mine site operations at a glance on screen means numerous people can walk into the control room during the day and share in the accurate information we are receiving.

“Leica’s software is very easy to use and since the new system was turned on it’s been working well. This combined with the support from Brisbane’s software team and Leica Geosystems’ Field Support Engineer, Brian Noga on site at Dawson, has been instrumental to the success of the implementation of the Leica systems.”

Dawson is one of Australia’s largest coal mines producing seven million tons of coal per year and is currently expanding to meet demand. It is located in Central Queensland and is a joint venture between Anglo Coal Australia and Mitsui Coal Holdings.

Leica Geosystems

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