Latest Technology Overcomes Challenges in Mine Scheduling cover image

Highly fluctuating commodity prices have been a factor that kept mining operations on edge for the past few years. It is difficult to predict if good times for a certain commodity are going to last, or if global impacts will suddenly upset all the carefully laid out plans. Mining operations face the challenge of designing and scheduling mining operations that accommodate these rapid changes. The traditional, time-consuming processes to run LOM scheduling (especially for medium to large mining operations that have large datasets) may no longer work. This means that mine planners and schedulers lose the time that they might otherwise use to analyse all the data to perform two or more scheduling scenarios to find the best option for the mine design and scheduling to reach an optimum profit value.

The high cost of operating a mine probably poses the biggest challenge, with a huge part of the investment allocated into high-priced heavy equipment that requires expensive regular maintenance. After spending so much investment on these assets, it is understandable that scheduling is required to ensure that all equipment always remains productive and efficient. It is a great idea to have a system that can perform mine scheduling and haulage simultaneously in one package.

The other factor is the planners’ readiness to run it. If the scheduling software requires users to have script skills, then they will have the added burden of learning scripting in addition to the scheduling software.

20 years ago, some small mining operations were still relying on Excel spreadsheets. Medium to large mining operations ran their scheduling using manual picking blocks. Engineers were often frustrated about having to reach the production targets and optimum profit because of the constant changes in commodity prices, as well as their large datasets and complex scenarios. But now there is a new generation of advanced scheduling solutions available. These utilise an optimised multi-core, 64-bit architecture to process the largest mine sites to make the process blazingly fast and precise. Simulating thousands of haul profiles and creating multiple scheduling scenarios no longer takes minutes, but seconds. Reporting on quantities, qualities, rates, hours, truck counts, haulage distances, mining operation cost, Net Present Value (NPV) and much more can be done with ease and results exported out to Excel.

The best mine scheduling packages, like Spry Scheduler, integrate seamlessly with the haulage simulation tool. More than 50% of a mine’s operational cost comes from haulage, so it is important to manage it to ensure it is effective and efficient. In fact, a comparative simulation to select shorter distance, smoother haulage routes devoid of inclines has the potential to deliver significant fuel savings.  Integrated scheduling and haulage software help engineers ensure that their scheduling planning is in line with the company target to avoid over-distance costs.

3D visualization plays an important role in displaying a real-time display of mine scheduling to stake holders. These days, there are so many ways to present the scheduling scenario using multi-stage capture and display of video/animations to give the best understanding of mine operations. With the newest technology, engineers are even able to include the real topographical view (say, from a drone) in their mine scheduling animation.

Such software solutions are also highly customisable, making it possible for engineers to produce comparative haulage cost & revenue modelling to optimise mine plans. This allows for flexibility in scheduling, be it for short, medium and long-term projects, as well as for all mining methods and commodities.

A seamless interface in the scheduling software makes it possible to import data to and from other mine-planning packages, including reserve information, design strings, grids & triangulations, csv files or Excel spreadsheets. This results in a massive saving of time and effort in double-handling data, and drastically reduces the chances of input errors.

Scheduling software should be easy to learn and use, making it suitable for all levels of programming expertise. With Spry’s user-friendly interface along with an intuitive scripting system, it is no longer a prerequisite for planners and engineers to have scripting skills.

How Spry Scheduler can help

Spry Scheduler deploys the latest technology capable of performing LOM scheduling for vast datasets to enable options in maximising NPV and allow planners and engineers to capitalise on all the benefits it offers.

And the best part of using Spry Scheduler is its affordability, making it friendly to your company’s cash flow. It is not module-based, so there are no additional charges for the purchase of different functional modules. You will enjoy both the competitive pricing and a convenient time-usage licensing structure, meaning you only pay for what you use.