Starving the Mill

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Client Situation:

An open pit mine in northern BC with 200 employees had a severe problem. The mine was starving the mill of ore and forcing the mill to idle impacting production.


  • The client had identified the “crusher” as being too small to feed the mill and forcing it to slow production.
  • We investigated and discovered that the crusher ran empty during shift changes.
  • Further investigation revealed that the supervisor was busy doing other things during shift changes, and significantly impacted the profitability for this asset-intensive client.


During the Monday daily production meeting – I explained the problem and asked the supervisor to report truckloads crushed by 10 am while setting the expectation that we needed four trucks to meet plan and that it was doable.

  • Tuesday – 3 trucks and everyone laughed.
  • Wednesday – 3 trucks and we had cat-calls.
  • Thursday – 3 trucks but this time the room went dead silent. Talk about peer pressure!
  • Friday – we got four trucks and lots of clapping.  We ran continuously for the next two months.  


  • Our client realized an additional 3 Million dollars annually without incurring the cost of new equipment by “engineering human behavior” to resolve the bottleneck.
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