Tuesday, 1 December 2020
Industry Q&A: Optimising your Mining Workforce for Efficiency and Productivity Gains
Austmine Limited
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Industry Q&A: Optimising your Mining Workforce for Efficiency and Productivity Gains

With the news this week that Fortescue Metals Group could be about to slash 700 jobs through their roster changes, workforce planning and management has never been more on the tips of everyone’s tongues across the industry. Austmine caught up with Osmotion’s Peter Collins to get his insights into what mining companies can do to really make the best use of their teams. Peter worked with the building industry for 20 years before joining Osmotion three years ago to work with the mining and resources sector.

What are the biggest challenges for mining companies nowadays with remote workforce management?

Complexity of Travel. Today’s FIFO worker now has a multi-step travel itinerary to get from Door to Ore. Connecting Commercial Flights with Charter flights on a repeating roster pattern, that are now many and varied, is very complex. All the while coordinating this to deliver the best utilisation of your flight and village accommodation capacity, which is the other big challenge in today’s “efficiency for cost saving” drive.

How important is it for mining companies to be able to fully utilise their assets in relation to FIFO workforces and optimise the travel management of staff? What kind of efficiency gains stand to be made?

It is much cheaper and achievable for an operation to use technology to utilise the allocated number of seats on a plane than to contract an extra in and out flight. Or to fully optimise the rooms in the village, as opposed to building more rooms. Or what is more financially frustrating is to have empty rooms due to poor management, while workers could have been on site. When you start to add up the cost of empty seats or vacant rooms, over catering, and a mismatch of workforce numbers to assets, there may be millions to be gained in cost saving. For example, the number of empty seats due to No Shows at an airport, has been proven to be massively reduced with an online Workflow management system, and notifications to ensure clear communication to the traveller. For a big site, just a 5% decrease in your No Show numbers has a multiplier effect in efficiency. Utilising your assets yes, but also saving on the costly administration burdens of rescheduling and reallocations.

Who within a mining organisation benefits from a workforce management platform? How can companies make sure it’s used to full effect across different departments?

We try to drive the message that it is not just a camp management tool for facility managers and it is not just a flight system or roster tool. The basis of our products success has been the synchronisation of these different functions. So the automation and usability is of value to the Site Travel and Accommodation Administrators. However the beneficiaries of the data and the reporting capability stretches right across the business, including HR, HSEC, Site Supervisors, and IT Departments. That is why we see the most successful clients with Osmotion Workforce Management applications are the ones who recognise the multi department benefits and assign an enterprise owner as a single business improvement manager. Someone who is genuinely looking at cost saving opportunities.

The amount of data that sits in a Workforce Roster, Transport and Accommodation system is a powerful source of truth for the business.

Australian METS companies are recognised world-wide for their innovation. How does Osmotion work to incorporate innovation into your business?

As the first business to develop software for remote workforce management 15 years ago, innovation is at the core of our culture. We have a team of developers, dedicated to working on improvements and enhancements or on new products. However, innovation at Osmotion goes beyond continuous improvement, for example, currently we are working with James Cook University funding research into the use of artificial intelligence in workforce logistics management for METS companies. We are very excited about our progress to date and look forward to revealing our results soon.

If you'd like to understand more about how Osmotion can help you optimise your workforce, you can contact Peter directly or check out their website.

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