SIC – Safe Informed Crews vs Short Interval Control

By Neha Singh, CEO PACE

With knowledge and experience in implementing and doing project recovery for six different methods of Short Interval Control (SIC) across six different mining operations, PACE in close collaboration with Barrick’s Digital Team lead by Ethan Hull has redefined SIC to deliver the result of Safe Informed Crews vs Short Interval Control. With the latest advances in communication technology underground, we can mine more safely than we ever have before and increase production by working smarter, not harder, and planning better. Introducing tablet technology underground so we have a better picture of where our people and equipment are, how our day is going in real time, and where we might experience delays and problems so we can work around them, makes good sense.

But what we have also learned from our implementations so far, and now realize with the deployment the new Short Interval Control (SIC) toolkit, is that SIC is NOT about “short interval control” – it is really about increasing the safety of the workers underground by reducing unnecessary movement, which not only results in increased safety but if implemented properly also gives mining companies the side benefit of increasing their active shift length which of course results in increased production capacity.

Let me explain why this is an important distinction.

We know change is disruptive, so one of the keys to implementing a new change is to make sure it provides a measurable and predictable improvement. That is a positive thing. If it doesn’t do this, however, or cannot be demonstrated, why bother? Too often, when it comes to what is currently referred to as SIC, the “benefit” mining companies are thinking they will realize is being talked about in terms of just production value, at PACE we would like you to see the production value being realized because access to real time communication underground is actually increasing safety. says reducing unnecessary movement

One of the main reasons SIC (short interval control) is not well adopted, and therefore not as effective of a tool as it should be, is because it is the wrong tool for the job! Yes, we can now bring WiFi to the face, and yes, we should use technology to help our miners better communicate.

Simply replacing an update that you could’ve gotten from the radio and putting it on a phone or tablet is really not the way to achieve true digital transformation. The analogy is like using a sledgehammer to kill a fly. We have to use the right tool, and prove its worth through the application of tangible use cases that are championed by the supervisors and operators on the ground.

The most significant risk to having any worker adopt a new technology is in making sure they understand why it is something they should have a desire to use because it will make their lives better! If you impose SIC without doing so, the impression is likely to be that you are making them use something that they don’t perceive to be useful to their job. So, as far as they are concerned, you’re taking precious production time out of their daily schedule when they could be earning their bonus. You’re basically breaking a bunch of “tried and true” methods and routines just to get them to do a few clicks on the tablet.

But perhaps worst of all from an engagement and morale standpoint, with the traditional notion of SIC, you may be sending the message to your miners that you don’t quite trust them to be doing the best possible job of what they are supposed to be doing. We know, and Digital Adoption Specialists like Partners in Achieving Change Excellence (PACE), who have worked with hundreds of miners at a variety of mines confirm, that miners display smarts and ingenuity to do their jobs, take satisfaction in a job well done, love to earn their bonus, and are among the hardest working people in heavy industry.

So, with all this in mind and our work with our partners such as the mines and the digital teams at Barrick we have developed a very different perspective on what the industry refers to as short interval control. We still use the acronym SIC, but we’re now calling it Safe Informed Crews.

We will be releasing the details of the successes and lessons learned of the SIC implementations at the second annual conference #BDT2019 in Sudbury on Feb 6th and 7th 2019. Hope to see you there!

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