Making decisions at the white house

In the White House on the Hill, the dispatch team at Whaleback are known for going above and beyond the call of duty.

In the White House on the Hill, the dispatch team at BHP Billiton Iron Ore’s Mt Whaleback operations are known for going above and beyond the call of duty. According to dispatch supervisor Trevor Gingell, the team has supported the massive and rapid increase in production at Whaleback.

“The mine has undergone rapid expansion with the truck fleet growing from 34 to 56 and manning levels are now approximately 90 per shift. This has called for a massive increase in multi-tasking and proactive management from dispatch,” Trevor said.

So what exactly does this team do in the White House?

On any given shift there is one Dispatcher and one Maintenance Clerk.

The Dispatcher starts at 4.30 (am or pm) and organises shift allocations based on available people, equipment and grade requirements.

“The Dispatcher allocates equipment according to operator skills and experience,” Trevor explained.

At 5.45 the Dispatcher then picks up their recorder and heads to the White House for a 12-hour shift.

“Throughout their shift, the Dispatcher and Maintenance Clerk communicate what is happening across the pit and respond immediately to changing circumstances,” Trevor said.

Dispatch uses a fleet management system called Modular Mining, which is GPS based, to maintain communications with the fleet.

The system holds information on shovel dig rates, haul routes and equipment type, which is used to distribute the available trucks in the most productive and cost effective way.

All the equipment has touch screens installed to which various information is sent.

In the case of trucks, the driver receives a destination once the truck is loaded and a shovel allocation when dumping a load.

“The Dispatcher runs the show, dealing with changing priorities, breakdowns, and putting contingency plans in place.

They liaise with other departments such as Maintenance and Ore Processing, look after five radio channels, run the computer system and answer two phones that never seem to stop ringing. The Dispatcher needs to have their finger on the pulse,” Trevor said.

The Maintenance Clerk works closely with the Dispatcher to prioritise breakdowns, co-ordinate up to six maintenance crews at any one time, ensure data integrity and arrange auxiliary equipment refuelling at opportune times.

The Maintenance Clerk also communicates daily blasting broadcasts in conjunction with the drill and blast department, and co-ordinates all personnel and equipment in the event of an emergency.

“The Dispatch team is very close both at work and outside of work hours, and as a team they selfmanage to ensure the job gets done. They work very well as a small group and deserve recognition for a job well done,” Trevor said.

This article was first published in Oresome (September 2007, Volume 017) – an internal company publication published by BHP Billiton Iron Ore.

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.