Why is the mine plan shelf-life so short?
After publishing "Crime against mine planning", Mark Bowater hosted a poll to identify the main reasons for this. "optimistic mine plan input assumptions" received the most votes, followed by "production not following the plan".
We intuitively understand that variability is involved in the short shelf life of the plan. Still, the impact of this variability is not understood, and therefore the fixes are not effective. Our intuition about the system's output needs to be corrected for a balanced capacity production system with significant variability and interdependence, such as a mine production system. A mine plan based on these assumptions does not represent reality, and trying to force operations to adhere to such a plan makes them reject it as optimistic and give up on following the plan.
Planning knows this intuitively and often plans with lower production rates than what they believe the system can produce (or have delivered in the past). Sometimes resource allocation is reduced to align with the lower planned production rates (to maintain production efficiency). This can result in a further reduction in output, and the downward spiral continues. Relationships deteriorate, work becomes pressured, and challenging, safety risks increase, and productivity deteriorates.
In this webinar, Mark and I describe these issues in more detail and identify strategies that will improve the shelf life of the plan.