Integration of tracking into horizontal underground transportation system
Sales, Phillip Kingston
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The world, especially the business world, has changed from consisting of different countries and markets to one global market. This can be attributed to better transportation, communication and information systems. This new development has changed the rules of the business game. No more do companies compete with local players only but increasingly with foreign based entities. Many experts argue that top companies in the world today are those that have embraced new technologies to improve their entire operations. New information technology allows them to integrate their operations upstream with their suppliers, downstream with their clients as well as in-house to improve their efficiencies. This includes mining companies who have to introduce new information, communication and transportation systems to compete with their global counterparts. This study investigates the operation of South African underground mines operation. This is done with a focus on the integration of tracking technology into the horizontal transportation system. The objective is to improve productivity due to better process control. In order to achieve this objective the entire operational process had to be divided into key elements that had to be investigated. The following key elements were identified and investigated: Information and communication strategy, Organisation structure, Departmental integration, Organisational processes, Management information, Information management, Management information system, Solution selection criteria, Causes of low productivity, Problems with logistics system, Technology implementation methods, Outsourcing, Reasons for technology failure and Future challenges facing industry. The investigation was done in four phases. The first phase provided a framework for a literature study. The second phase comprised a literature study that would set the foundation for the empirical study. The third phase consisted of the empirical study, research methodology and data gathering. The fourth and final phase consisted of data grouping and analysis, conclusions and recommendations. Among the conclusions drawn, the following stand out: There is a general problem in the industry that can be attributed to logistics. There is also a problem of information quality and information flow among the different departments that lead to poor integration. Another problem that was highlighted is the non-involvement of end-users in technology selection and implementation. In terms of future challenges facing the industry, poor education levels, productivity and commodity prices were identified. In terms of solutions for the future, integrating technology, with the involvement of end users, were mentioned. All these findings were uniform across the different mining houses, which show the similarity of the industry culture.