Continuous Improvement at Screen Station Area

18 March 2016

Improvement program within screening station area in the largest Nickel Mining Company in Indonesia involved more than 100 employees either directly and indirectly. They have successfully executed 7 improvement projects and able to give benefit both tangibly and intangibly. With greater increasing awareness and enthusiasm of the employees in the area of screening station, continuous improvements will become more like a new culture that applies to everyone and new improvement initiatives will appear and support the company in the future.

 

The Screening Station is an essential unit in a nickel mining process. It’s function is to screen out ore material from mining production with various size into the size -4 "or -2". Commencing in 2013, OMIP (Operations & Maintenance Improvement Program) which is an improvement program in the company, which is one of the largest nickel mining companies in Indonesia, began running the improvement program in the screening station area. Involving more than 100 employees either directly or indirectly, it completed 7 out of 8 projects formed and managed to improve the screening station reliability and productivity. This increase will be even greater in the future as the employees have embraced the culture of continuous improvement in the screening station area. 

 

In 2013, as a result of improvements in the downstream processing in the Process Plant the demand for Screening Station Product (SSP) was increasing and thus the process at the screening station had become a bottleneck in the whole nickel mining process. Various problems occurred repetitively either in Maintenance, Operation, and even Ore Quality. This impacts the result of SSP production which also then ultimately limited the volume of matte production due to the lack of SSP and hence impacted revenue and profit. Based on these conditions, the company decided to rollout the improvement program from the Process Plant to the screening station area with aim to improve the performance of screening station by using continuous improvement methodology.

 

To support the above, the company decided to establish 8 improvement projects throughout the whole screening station work process including Maintenance, Operation and Ore (product) Quality.

  1. SS#8 Conveyor Improvement        
  2. SS#8 Overload Improvement      
  3. SS#11 Housekeeping Improvement     
  4. SS#11 Step bar Improvement  
  5. SS#11 Washing Improvement   
  6. SSP Moisture Improvement    
  7. SS#11 Rom pile Ore Grade Improvement     
  8. SS#10 Rock Crushing Improvement      


Implementation of Improvement Program

The cross functional teams were formed, and initially progress was slower than expected even though basic knowledge about the improvement method had been given. A combination of technical and non-technical difficulties resulted in the improvement not running smoothly. These conditions often occur especially in the early phase of improvement when teams involve cross departments such as operational department and maintenance department, who in past the past have not worked well together are suddenly put into a joint team.


Coaching & mentoring provided by an experienced improvement facilitator from Relogica helped  the team overcome these difficulties and accelerate problem solving process. The facilitator helped in guiding the team following the systematic and structure approach of 9 Steps Improvement Methodology based on PDCA cycle. Slowly it is changing the paradigm of employees about improvement activities in screening station area. So that the the employees become more aware and open to new ideas.


Along with rapid increase of employees in their  problem solving skill, the project start running on the track. Various improvements in both technical and non-technical executed successfully. Teamwork significantly increased, and communication between departments becoming more intense which is a good sign. This provides a positive impact toward the improvement program. In terms of Maintenance, improvement of maintenance system in the screening station area through maintenance standard task (MST) improvement and planning & scheduling improvement have resulted in changing the maintenance teams paradigm from reactive maintenance into preventive & predictive maintenance. This fundamental change together with technical improvements such as unit modification and technology upgrade has resulted in a significant reduction in downtime. Now the actual physical availability exceeds the original target.


In terms of Operations, numerous trainings and refresh in standard operation procedures were run as part of the improvement, this improved the operator skills so that the operator team able to work more tactical and systematic and also increased  their sense of ownership of the equipment so that minor defects are detected and corrected earlier before they can result in a major equipment failure. This contributed to the real impact in production achievement.

In terms of Ore Quality, with improvement in the sampling method, water usage control and stock pile management improved the final quality of screening station product which meant that the downstream process could also operate more efficiently.


These numerous positive changes in the screening station area have resulted in the screening station no longer being the bottleneck problem, furthermore it can give better support and service to its downstream costumers (process plant), and this can be seen from the increased availability level achievement and the increase in production of SSP.

 

To date, the improvement program within screening station area involved more than 100 employees either directly and indirectly. They have successfully executed 7 improvement projects and able to give benefit both tangibly and intangibly. With greater increasing awareness and enthusiasm of the employees in the area of screening station, continuous improvements will become more like a new culture that applies to everyone and new improvement initiatives will appear and support the company in the future.