All quarrying, sites have to comply (and to demonstrate their compliance) to every day’s more demanding regulations. Moreover, most of quarrying sites claim to have embarked in cost avoidance and cost savings action plans. Due to the economic downturn that first stroke the construction sector, the quarrying industry has now to prove its ability to control cost at every step of the extraction and processing stages.
The sequential nature of the quarrying process required a global vision. Many cost avoidance or cost savings process failed in achieving their initial objectives by only considering or focusing on a portion of this complex chain. Only well designed performance indicators could help to permanently and efficiently monitored and assessed such a process. Surprisingly, the monitoring step is often bypassed or partially addressed by the quarrying sites.
What Are The Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)?
"Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) help organizations understand how well they are performing in relation to their strategic goals and objectives. In the broadest sense, a KPI can be defined as providing the most important performance information that enables organizations or their stakeholders to understand whether the organization is on track or not" (source: AP Institute).
KPIs can be quantitative or qualitative measurements. By design, all indicators must be specific, measurable, realistic, and achievable. But it is not just about figures and KPIs may include photos, videos, open comments. Just think how helpful are the restaurant or hotel ratings site on the Internet. Their efficiency or compliance rate is not only described in terms of number of rooms or quantity of equipments installed in the room. They also display photos, videos and comments from customers to help you doing your own "performance assessment".
The Operational Constraints Of a Quarrying Site
Beside the intrinsic technical complexity of running an extraction site (technical choices, human resources training and safety, geological variability, weather adverse conditions, etc.), quarries also face specific (or stronger) constraints:
- Financial constraints
- Geographic constraints
- Legal constraints
Quarrying is not a high margin business due to the price of the extracted materials. The only way to keep the economics is to use explosive to extract the rock... which in turn creates nuisances (vibration, noise, fly-rocks, dust) and bring claims (additional costs).
Quarrying aims to produce cement or aggregates for the construction industry. The sites have then to be located as close as possible to the urban area... which then requires to keep nuisances at minimum.
Quarrying creates landscape disturbances and nuisances from blasting, hauling, processing and transporting materials. Strict regulations frame the whole life of a quarry:
- A new site opening which might face a NIMBY protest and/or administration opposition
- The extension of sites are subject to demanding impact studies
- Nuisances (vibration, noise, dust) and impact on biodiversity, water and landscape are strictly regulated and have to be permanently assessed.
- Strong reclamation commitments are required from the site owner
What do KPIs aim to check in a quarry?
The health and safety compliance
The quarrying process optimization
KPIs measure criteria aiming to evaluate whether the quarrying employees and management operate within the company's health and safety policies and standard operating procedure
KPIs may include the drilling, blasting, loading, hauling and crushing efficiency and their impacts on the aggregates quality.
KPIs measure criteria aiming to evaluate whether the quarrying process obeys company environmental policies and standard operating procedures to avoid a breach of environmental regulations.
What may be the outcome of your KPIs?
- Entering a continual improvement process that will improve the site's profitability
- Checking, reporting and demonstrating the site compliance (health and safety, environment, financial statements)
- Giving data for a documented control of people and equipment efficiency (could be linked to reward or recognition policy. In that case KPIs have to be carefully designed to prevent behaviours such as hitting the target without delivering the expected performance)
After having strictly separated the internal KPIs (people evaluation) from the "compliance KPIs", the communication on the indicators’ assessment and results have to carefully consider the content, the form, the timing and the recipients.