16 Apr MINERALS PROCESSING: THE SECRETS TO OPERATIONAL SUCCESS
After more than 21 years in operation, the Kroondal 1 Plant – managed by Minopex for Sibanye-Stillwater – is still breaking production records. According to Herbert Mmola, Plant Manager of the Kroondal 1 Plant, this operational team has demonstrated the power of hard work and dedication; combined with several key operational principles that drive success.
Key Factors for Operational Success
Mmola believes that there is one critical factor which drives success in any business, operating in any sector: it’s people. “Minopex’s biggest asset is its people. With an inclusive leadership approach and the right staff on board, operations will be bolstered,” he says, adding that people involvement is essential, and requires:
- Listening to the opinions and ideas of all staff, not just those at management level
- Believing in the people on the team
- Ensuring sound operational processes by garnering buy-in from the team
- Striving for continuous improvement, constantly exceeding previous achievements and upskilling teams through training and development
People Driving Processes
While people are an essential part of Minopex’s operations, Mmola confirms that a keen focus on sound operational processes significantly impacts on success. His top four fundamental principles include:
Preventative maintenance and maintenance planning – which has significant cost and time saving benefits, moving operations away from reactive management.
Effective supply chain and inventory management – ensuring that raw materials, spares, and any other items needed for operations to run smoothly are always on-site, in the correct quantities. This safeguards against downtime and eliminates the need to source spares from alternative suppliers at a premium cost.
Process optimisation – which is achieved through strict process control, and research and development (R&D) projects. Process control entails monitoring process performance and changing the approach as required to achieve the desired result. Through R&D, the operational approach can be adjusted to benefit from new technologies, services, or systems.
Client relationship and expectation management – to manage (and exceed) customer expectations, the operations team must have insight into customer requirements, and a deep understanding of their needs and preferences. The Kroondal 1 team effectively manages expectations with clear objectives and boundaries.
People Driving Processes
Mmola confirms that the Minopex team has learnt a lot about what works and what doesn’t over the last two decades. At Kroondal 1, the critical considerations recognised are:
- Building a team with the right technical skills is very key to operational success. Here it’s not always the technical qualifications that are an indicator of ability; consider real technical skill earned by virtue of experience.
- Conceptual skills are also essential, and this feeds into being open to suggestions and building an inclusive environment.
- Human Resources and leadership skills are pivotal; the leaders must be able to influence people in such a way that they drive operational excellence while improving on and perfecting operational processes.
Continuous Development: Empowering Teams to Keep Improving
To maintain year-on-year growth and improvement, Mmola considers key factors in Kroondal 1’s daily operations. “This has ensured that, even after more than two decades in operation, our team continues to break records,” says Mmola. This process entails:
- Recognising the basics, perfecting them, and improving on them
- Empowering the team through development; investing in training and learning interventions to build teams with strong knowledge bases
- Driving teams with information; letting them know why they are doing what they’re doing (when they have a reason, they’ll buy into the plan)
Operational Goals for Kroondal 1
“The Kroondal team will continue to work smarter and harder, ensuring customers always receive added value. The goal is not to meet expectations, but to exceed them. In short; winning with people,” concludes Mmola.
For more information about operations success, contact Renira Reddy at firstname.lastname@example.org.