All mining operations have a number of planning routines that occur throughout the year, which are often referred to as “the planning process”. Generally speaking these planning routines fall into four separate categories:
- Strategic Planning – This looks at big picture issues such as should we be selling or acquiring an asset.
- Integrated Mine Plan – Often referred to as Life of Mine Planning and takes the longer term view specific to an asset; however, most effort is put into annual and quarterly plans.
- Short Term Planning (STP) – Also known as Work Management, it the execution discipline to build a culture of reliability – are we hitting the quarterly and annual budget numbers? Generally speaking the time horizon for STP is inside one month with specific attention to the upcoming week.
- Continuous Improvement Planning. All mining companies run these four planning process concurrently. However, STP is the focus of this discussion. The quality of detailed planning (drive short term planning) is often not sufficient to deliver the level Operational Stability that is expected from senior executives, shareholders and other stakeholders.
The primary purpose of drive short term planning is to reliably deliver on short-term plans and schedules established by the management of mining operations. This area of planning is primarily focused on the next 30 days. Generally speaking, variation at the task execution level is driving a large percentage of the variation that results in shortfalls in short term production targets. Improving short-term plans activities can often lead to 10 – 20% improvement in the unit costs with little or no additional capital.
Short Term Planning is comprised of three separate planning steps:
- Planning — Here we are planning all aspects of task execution down to the shift level. We are focused on people, equipment, supplies and task location.
- Scheduling — Schedules for all the aspects of each task on a shift-to-shift basis.
- Execution — All activities relating directly to task execution.
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