Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Details

This conference paper was originally published as Lumley, G, Reducing the Variability in Dragline Operator Performance, in Aziz, N (ed), Coal 2005: Coal Operators' Conference, University of Wollongong & the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, 2005, 97-106.


Australian coal mines have spent considerable capital on dragline

improvements over the last two years. This has included ~$30 M on UDD

conversions, >$20 M on new buckets, boom upgrades, electrical

upgrades, etc. This is a natural part of the response of mining companies

to technology and replacement programs. Capital expenditure is a normal

part of the ongoing success of most companies. There is however, a

tendency for some people to rely on the capital alone to provide the

ongoing improvements in equipment productivity. Implementing new

technology through capital expenditure is only part of the equation in

continuous improvement. For 80 - 90 per cent of the year, the operator

controls the productivity achieved by the dragline.

Variation between operators is huge. The average standard deviation in

productivity is 12 per cent and maintenance impact is over 40 per cent.

Robbins 2003, states:

Contrary to what we were taught in grade school, we

weren’t all created equal. Most of us are to the left of

the median on some normally distributed ability curve.

Further, he states:

The issue is knowing how people differ in abilities and

using that knowledge to increase the likelihood that an

employee will perform his or her job well.

There are two options for reducing variability between operators;

improving operator ability and getting the machine to take over what the

operator is doing (automation). Dragline automation will be discussed,

however, this paper will focus more on the ‘human factor’ and how to

establish a dragline with minimum variability between operators.