Monitoring the Heartbeat of Mining and Metals Production Copy

Published: March 15,2021

202-03-15_Lessons-Learned-When-Workforce-Reduction-was-a-Factor-in-Migrating-Truck Drivers-to-Autonomous-Fleets

About the mining operation(s) discussed:

About the mining operation(s) discussed:
• Large surface mining operation in North America migrating truck drivers to autonomous fleets.

Roles and Transitions

While transitioning to autonomous fleets, the mining company was having a difficult time transferring truck driver roles and was hoping that natural attrition would help. However, this approach is not working as fast or efficiently as expected.

This transition added redundancy to the current workforce, which meant sending workers to other mines that needed drivers for different types of equipment. With salaries being based on the type of equipment being operated, for some this meant taking a reduced salary or pay cut. For others, the company had to respect the base salaries of the workers and absorb extra costs in wages until natural attrition took place.

Key Stakeholders

The transition was self-performed by the mining team. Their priority was Proof of Concept (POC) and the eventual deployment of their fleet. They are now realizing that employees are more reluctant to depart willingly and are waiting to see what the next opportunities are.

Communications and Options

When initial plans were announced to deploy autonomous trucks, early communication set an expectation that automation would not have a significant impact to workforce and would not costworkers jobs.

This messaging was communicated in townhall meetings and through public messaging systems. Since this is a union environment and the fleet has not been fully transitioned, no layoffs have been made.However, moving forward there may be no other option (than to start doing layoffs) given the difficulty to identify enough open positions that can be made available for drivers.

The mining company realized that as autonomous fleets increase, there will not be enough open positions to host all of those who were previously in truck-driving roles. Options are being considered to reduce the workforce that include:
• Acceptance of employees and handling union demands
• Reskilling: Train truck drivers to do other jobs
• Early retirement: Available for a more mature workforce with many years of experience
• Natural attrition: Open positions not backfilled
• Layoffs: This is a last option considered and everything possible will be done to avoid this

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