RTCA introduces industry-first operator scorecard

Collaborative approach improves coal dragline productivity

End result: consistently high productivity and low damage

Draglines are critical pieces of machinery for our coal operations. Their job is to remove overburden and expose the coal seam below.

RTCA has a fleet of seven draglines working at its open-pit coal operations: two at Hail Creek, three at Mount Thorley Warkworth (MTW) and two at Hunter Valley Operations (HVO). Their combined replacement value is around US$1 billion.

Culture of improvement

Working with the Maintenance Technology Institute at Melbourne's Monash University, RTCA has structurally modified each dragline to safely shift more overburden. And another innovation has taken productivity to the next level, as Nick Griffith - a specialist with RTCA's Productivity Improvement team - explains.

"We also installed structural monitoring systems (SMS) made up of sensors on each dragline's boom, A-frame and mast, and on-board alarms," said Nick. "The alarms sound each time excessive strain is placed on the machine.

"The SMS records and displays how the dragline is being used, allowing us to pinpoint exactly which operator practices cause the highest damage. This was information we had never had access to before," he said.

The data enabled RTCA to create scorecards for each operator, through which they can track their performance, including "wear and tear" damage on the draglines. These scorecards are a first for our industry, and RTCA was able to use them to build a development programme for its operators.

Supervisors can now understand how each person operates a dragline, and where they need to focus to reduce damage to the equipment. The scorecards also help the operators reduce wear and tear, while maintaining their productivity targets.

The live feedback on board the dragline and the monthly scorecard summary has created a culture of improvement across the fleet. RTCA is now using the scorecards to validate individual performance reviews.

Scorecards have created an efficient way of collecting and presenting critical operator information, helping redefine how we view productivity

Clint Jenkins, dragline specialist, Hunter Valley Operations

"Operators continue to challenge themselves, while supervisors focus on problem areas. Looking back, the 'worst' operator today outperforms our 'best' operator before the programme started," Nick said.

An impressive outcome

According to Nick, our operators are now consistently performing at a level where productivity is high but damage is low. In fact, the result has been so outstanding that RTCA is now undertaking a trial rollout of the SMS on MTW's excavators, with superintendent Mark Franklin driving the trial of the operator development programme.

"The replication opportunities for the Group are endless and the results speak for themselves," Nick said.

"The project's success is a direct result of the support and vision of our dragline superintendents: Glenn Meyn (MTW), Tim Veness and Clint Jenkins (HVO) and Stephen Mears (Hail Creek Mine). Without their drive, the improvements would not have been realised."

RTCA dragline fleet RTCA dragline fleet
Glenn Meyn, mining superintendent, Mount Thorley Warkworth using the scorecards with a dragline operator.