Senior Mining Engineer
The March 2020 issue of Mining Engineering features a paper on web-based benchmarking of mining equipment performance by Golder’s James Marston and Nathan Hoffman.
Originally presented at the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (SME) Annual Conference in February of 2019, the authors discuss the importance of benchmarking to business process improvement and how an effective program can improve capital spending and operating cost performance, and create a common voice to improve the industry.
Historically, benchmarking in the mining industry had been limited by a variety of factors, including differing data definitions and benchmarking metrics, company confidentially and expense. Collaboration between Golder, major mining industry players and the Surface Mining Association for Research and Technology (SMART) resulted in the launch of a web-based benchmarking program in 2004 to assist participants in data standardization and monitoring performance metrics.
This low-cost, web-based, global program allows participants to anonymously compare equipment benchmarking metrics using one normalized standard of comparison. Data management of the program by a third party (Golder) allows participant data to be securely transferred and anonymously posted to the program’s website, and keeps the program’s focus on pure, nonbiased benchmarking for the benefit of all participants.
The robust data model and metrics allow participants to understand their performance, identify opportunities to improve, and to collaborate to share underlying best practices. Participants have reported improvements in equipment use and physical availability through utilizing the results from the benchmarking program.
While other equipment studies and initiatives had been undertaken in the industry before, it is the spirit of collaboration that distinguishes the SMART Benchmarking Program. Through analyzing the data, the participants can identify other parties with superior equipment performance and make arrangements through Golder to collaborate and share underlying best practices.
The SMART program, and its benchmarking standard, continues to be driven by a steering committee (now under the umbrella of the Global Mining Guidelines Group), and includes representatives from major mining companies, who support further improvement to the benchmarking methodology.
Building on the SMART Benchmarking Program for current and potential participants is a key goal of Golder and GMG. As part of managing the program, Golder is working to enhance the user experience and benefits from using the program. Additional types of equipment and additional operations have been introduced to the program. Golder and GMG are also looking at expanding the types of mining that are currently represented in the program, especially with regards to the commodities being mined, the location of the operations and mining methods.
The future of the program has many opportunities, including the adoption of GMG’s time-use model and operational KPIs guideline for the mining industry as well as the inclusion of underground mining operation participants. Expansion of the program across noncompeting industries will allow for even greater collaboration of best practices.