Peabody Energy exposes late starters and slow eaters

In an effort to squeeze every last drop of productivity out of workers and boost coal production, Peabody Energy has installed business intelligence technology which exposes late starters and extended lunches.

The company which has 11 coal mines in NSW and Queensland is trialling the platform at its Bear Run mine in the United States, but the technology could be implemented elsewhere, IT News reported.

Director of business intelligence, Keith Bowles, said the miner is capturing data from its fleet of excavators, bulldozers, shovels and draglines to generate "real time visibility into the health and status of those pieces of equipment".

"The challenge that we were given by our operations … was, 'Give us the right information to the right people to increase production at our mines'," Bowles said.

Already the system is showing production gains from two reports generated by the technology.

The 'First Bucket Report' tracks when the bucket of a shovel, excavator or dozer hits the ground at the start of each shift.

"That first bucket needs to hit at 7.15 [am] when the shift starts, and if that bucket hits at 7.30, 7.45, 8 o'clock — that's lost productivity," Bowles explained.

"We generated a single report to the shift supervisor showing him that 90 percent of the time that bucket hits the ground at 7.30, at 7.45."

The shift supervisor can drill down to look at the exact time a bucket hit the ground "by piece of equipment, [or] by driver".

Quantifying the delay in equipment start up has reportedly increased Peabody’s yield by 20 loads per shift.

"Twenty loads doesn't sound like a lot, but a load is 200 tonnes of coal," Bowles said.

"That's 4000 tonnes of coal a shift, 8000 tonnes of coal a day, for this one location, for this one basic simple report."

The second report titled 'Lunch Report' times shift workers’ lunch breaks.

"Their lunches should only be 30 minutes, but their lunches are going 37 [minutes]," Bowles said.

"Pit number 3 has an average lunch time of 39 minutes. That's nine minutes of lost production."

Bowles said both reports demonstrate weaknesses in Peabody's operations and mine management and have proven popular with supervisors, but less so among employees.

"These two reports now don't allow me to visit the mine site because those ops guys are going to kill me because now their shift supervisors are looking at them and seeing that they took an extra nine minutes on their lunch," Bowles said.

"But the key takeaway is that it's basic simple information to run the business."

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