Following on from our last blog, which looked at how the ‘small stuff’ at an operation can create tangible cost and productivity benefits, the next drill and blast function where, with the right approach, productivity gains can be realised is blasthole drilling. It’s an area often overlooked in continuous improvement activities and can deliver quick wins.
The key opportunity is to re-evaluate KPIs. Blasthole drilling outcomes are most commonly measured in terms of immediate performance, such as penetration rates achieved per shift and number of hours or metres drilled. What’s critical, however, is hole quality and durability. If the hole collapses before the blast crew arrives then the drilling efforts have been completely wasted.
A more productive approach is to measure drilling performance based on the delivery of holes at the right location and to the desired depth when the blast crew arrives. Using this KPI, drillers will begin to measure the holes before and after the job, to ensure required depths are met. Drilling practices can then be amended if necessary to reduce rework. Holes drilled a few days earlier will be measured to see how things have changed over time. Holes at the start of a pattern will be given a little extra depth than those last to be drilled to allow for fall-back. Not only does this result in a better blast but it minimises the need to re-drill holes; saving time and reducing costs. A driller that is accountable for the quality of their holes makes blast crew activities more efficient!
Using this approach, Action Drill & Blast has demonstrated that a drill operated by our team can regularly achieve 20% to 25% greater productivity than a drill of the exact same model maintained and operated by others, with fewer re-drills. With identical equipment, the difference came down to our people and processes!
Final part of this series coming soon!