Who do you call when problems arise in your mining operation? You probably have at least one number on your speed dial as chief troubleshooter, but what is this person’s perspective on innovation? If you don’t have at least one technology champion on your team, your mine is at risk of falling behind.
Technology champions are fully versed in the technology being used in any given mine process, including how it should work and what to do when it doesn’t. They’re your first line of defense. When they get the call that something is not working the way it should, they are first on the scene to figure out the problem. Whether it’s a glitch with the technology, human error or even the environment, it’s up to the technology champion to determine the cause.
During the problem solving process, they are familiar with best-case time management practices. For example, if they’re trying to solve a problem with a drag line or a haul truck, they are already aware of how long it should take to reach a resolution for that specific process. If they can’t get the problem solved within a predefined time period (whether it’s a certain number of minutes or hours), they know that it’s time to call on the manufacturer’s customer support team for assistance.
Beyond problem solving, technology champions are always looking for new technologies or updates that can be implemented to improve processes, whether by increasing productivity, reducing costs or improving employee safety. They help protect your mine’s investments and discover new opportunities for a more successful future.
So how can you make sure you have a technology champion on your staff?
4 Tips for Identifying and Nurturing Technology Champions
1. When making a new hire, try not to get too bogged down by the specific technologies a person may or may not already know. A general overview-level understanding of the latest technologies and trends is usually sufficient. After all, any quality hire will need some degree of training for your specific operation. Instead, look for people who are willing to take risks. Your future technology champion should be someone who is not satisfied with the status quo. They’ll always be looking to do the necessary research and quickly learn different technologies and processes in order to improve your business.
2. Make a concerted effort to get everyone’s buy-in. Trying to force people to use new technologies never works well. For example, if you have an experienced operator who is less than thrilled about incorporating a new piece of technology into his existing process, let him know that you’d like to use him as an example because you know you can rely on him. Take the time to show him how the technology will make his job easier, increase his output, improve safety, etc. Once he’s trained and on board, he can take on the role of technology champion by sharing his new knowledge and enthusiasm with the rest of the team. Following that success, he’ll also be more willing to pinpoint additional areas for future improvements.
3. Technology champions like to be challenged. To keep your champion engaged, identify a process that you think is working and ask him to see if it can be improved. Just because a process has worked for the past 20 years doesn’t mean you’ve been doing it the right way, or the best way. A technology champion will thrive when they have the opportunity go out and identify existing problems or shortcomings and determine what improvements can be made.
4. Think beyond training. You can train people forever. Encourage all employees to make learning and continuous improvement part of their day-to-day activities. You’ll help existing technology champions continue to grow, and you’ll start building new champions – all of whom can help take your business to the next level.
Technology champions are imperative to the success of your mine. If you’d like more information on the latest technologies that can benefit your operation, please contact me.