Drilling efficiency boosted, costs cut

A WHALEBACK Mining Six Sigma Business Excellence team has made blast hole drilling a more efficient and less costly task.

A WHALEBACK Mining Six Sigma Business Excellence team has made blast hole drilling a more efficient and less costly task.

As a result of this project being undertaken and the dedication and perseverance of the Drill and Blast team in implementing various solutions, the drills have increased their monthly metres by about 18% from what was achieved in YEJ06.

When these metres are calculated against what the previous contractor rates were, the result is an approximate saving of $1.3 million!

The team, Kathryn Harrison; Gil Murray; Alf Jones; Joey Ikudede; Brad Howell; and John Della-Marta were faced with the challenge due to a reduction in the number of blast hole drill rigs from six to four.

The remaining four rigs needed to contribute a bigger output given the expectation to manage a much larger drill area.

The team discovered that the drill metres per operating hour were measured at 70% of metres per effective hour, which meant that there was significant time during the shift that the rig was operational but not drilling.

The major reasons identified as being accountable for these drilling gaps were shift change delays; re-filling water tanks on the rigs during shift; and awaiting pattern preparation for new patterns to drill.

A quick win was to extend the pattern preparation requirements over a larger number of future patterns to reduce the delays being incurred. This had an immediate time-saving effect.

Rigs are in the process of being modified to allow for an isolation switch to be installed so that the service truck operator doesn’t have to alight the rig when re-filling the water tank. This will allow the drill rig to keep drilling while the operator is re-filling. The team is also discussing how the daily shift plan can be improved to minimise the effect of not drilling during crib, smoko and shift change.

Tim Jess, Drill and Blast and Contract Mining Superintendent, is the Process Owner for this project and is proud of the fantastic work of the team.

“I believe this project should be held up as the shining light of what’s possible when a team works together and what benefits Six Sigma can provide to the business,” Tim said.

*This article was first published in Oresome (June 2007 Volume 014) an internal publication published by BHP Billiton Iron Ore.

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