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An open letter to the mine manager
Dragline monitors: positive or negative feedback
Keywords: Dragline Monitor, Online Analysis, Feedback

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Research Laboratories,
Dragline Productivity Training Technologies
Australia

To:

The Mine Manager

Dear Sir,

Dragline monitors: positive or negative feedback?

Recent consulting work confirmed my worst fears. If you are providing dragline monitor feedback to your operators, please spend some time to consider this: Are your dragline monitors reinforcing poor work practices? Could they be transforming good operators into bad ones?

Consider what are the consequences of a monitoring system which:

  1. reward operators who tight-line machines (because it tricks the system to show that their production is higher than it actually is);
  2. rewards those who operated machines roughly (because that delivers more swings to their name);
  3. position the draglines to dig the 'cream dirt' leaving the next shift to fix up the mess,
  4. take short swings prematurely to improve personal swing rate.

I did not realise the extent of the issue until I came across sites that tied operators performance directly to the monitors. The results were devastating. Good operators were demoralised because they were 'punished' for not playing the system. Real production dropped, and calculated rehandle shot up. Everybody loses.

I have made my monitor on my simulator available to the mines. The monitor on the simulator has been well tested and well regarded, and it has been used extensively in training smooth steady operators who did not overload the machinery. The monitor performs all the functionality of all dragline monitors. On top of that, it has some features which leaves others for dead. How? It has been built with two goals in mind: Reinforce correct practices, and discourage poor practices.

These are the three key ways my monitor reinforces correct practices and discourage poor practices:

  1. Rewards smooth dragline operators
  2. Discourage actions which damages equipment
  3. Encourages correct dragline positioning

This system actually records how many times your operators do these damaging actions to your equipment:

  1. Drag stalls; monitors and records drag stalls in excess of 4 seconds.
  2. Hoist overloads; monitors and records overloading the bucket.
  3. Hoist slack rope; monitors and records excessive hoist slack rope at the hoist drum, to prevent over-wrap/over spooling.
  4. Drag slack rope; monitors and records excessive drag slack rope at the drag drum, to prevent over-wrap/over spooling.
  5. Tight lining; monitors and records the bucket in this curve during normal operation.
  6. Pre-tight line curve; monitors and records when the loaded bucket is hoisted in this predetermined curve. Tight lining slows down the hoist speed.
  7. Over swing left or right; monitors and records the boom point tilt angle during the dig or dump mode and excessive bucket lag or lead during the swinging.
  8. Fly dumps; monitors and records the position of the bucket in excess past the dig-dump radius during the dumping mode.
  9. Dragline not level; monitors and records the level of the machine during operation and walking up or down ramps in excess of 7.5%.
  10. Boom stress; monitors and records excessive shocks to the boom from the bucket via the hoist ropes.
  11. Control lever jockeying; monitors and records excessive control movement.
  12. Drag rope damage; (under development) monitors and records the operator, dragging drag ropes over rocks.
  13. Dropping spreader bar on bucket (under development)
  14. Snap or jerk of drag ropes after dumping (under development)
  15. Pulling ropes off hoist sheaves

These features are available now, and are well proven and tested. In fact, while you are reading this, a novice operator is being trained on it, learning how not to damage machinery and deliver good steady, sustainable production rate.

The benefits of this system are real. One client, after putting their operators through simulator training, overcame the persistent boom repairs to boom damage that were unusual for a dragline that age. In fact, on one strip, the dragline cut 19 days of boom maintenance that was scheduled in. This is all achieved without the benefit of having the monitor installed on the dragline itself. This is from the short training they receive on the simulator in the training course. They could have saved a lot more time and made more money if the monitor was available and installed on their draglines in the first place.

Suffice to say: profit margins are tight. Not damaging equipment is an excellent way to lower production costs, and increase worked hours.

I have been training operators for over 35 years now, and I understand what makes a good dragline operation tick. The monitor is built to help mines achieve my personal standard for excellent dragline operations.

The DOP has been designed to use off-the-shelf parts. Complete lists of parts required are provided and the mine technicians will be able to swap parts themselves. When the prices of off-the-shelve parts come down with time, guess who will get to keep the savings?

The DOP monitor is being provided at a very low cost to the mines because I have little overheads. It also makes my work easier, because it takes a lot of effort to help operators 'unlearn' all the poor habits reinforced by existing dragline monitors.

Thank you for taking time to hear me rant about dragline operations. Draglines are in my blood: I am passionate about them. I have trained people for over 35 years, and I do not want to see the next generation of dragline operators raised on a diet of poor operating habits and damaging equipment along the way.

Yours sincerely,

Harry Winkel

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