Vancouver-based Teck Resources operates six coal mines in British Columbia and Alberta. The desire to co-ordinate workflow among them and manage inventory efficiently had the coal division looking for enterprise resource planning software that would allow production to grow in a cost-efficient manner. Of all the options it studied, Teck Coal chose the Dynamics AXTM platform from Microsoft.
“With more than 3,500 employees, Teck’s coal operation wanted to improve staff productivity and business performance by establishing common processes across all sites, having one view of our operating picture and abandoning our legacy systems as they were hindering growth,” says Chris Coupal, director of information systems and business solutions with the coal business unit.
For Teck, the performance of its coal mining equipment is affected by a number of financial, operating and maintenance management issues. Staff at Teck is tasked with managing maintenance forecasting and scheduling, but the aging systems did not fully support these functions which made it difficult to accurately track and monitor asset and inventory data across all sites.
“We had six independent sites running on six independent copies of software and a legacy mainframe that was more than three decades old. This inflexible environment hampered the ability to quickly access data to make timelier, holistic business decisions, which in turn, required individuals and manual processes to attempt to make up the difference,” says Coupal. “As a result, we made the decision to implement a new, single-business management solution that would standardize our processes and help improve our asset management, procurement and inventory processes in real-time.”
The company needed a more centralized management environment that was flexible, reliable and could improve interactions with suppliers and customers based on planned maintenance activities. The challenge was to fully join its databases and strengthen its maintenance, materials management and financial areas to increase focus on planning and forecasting, and increase access to more current, more complete data – enabling timely decision making, as well as reducing the operating processes time.
In order to execute the implementation of Microsoft Dynamics AX with the maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) module, Teck chose to work with Eclipse Computing based on the partner’s global experience specific to the mining industry. (www.EclipseCanada.ca/IndustrySolutions/MinePointMiningExploration.aspx.)
“Eclipse was able to mobilize quickly and brought a keen understanding of and expertise in MRO, mining and maintenance to the table, which really helped make this implementation a success,” said Coupal.
The complete rollout to all operations was finished in November 2010. Using Microsoft Dynamics AX, Teck has established a centralized store for financial, asset and materials information and has standardized on common operating procedures among sites on the Dynamics AX system.
“Using Dynamics AX allows us to manage as one organization instead of as six independent ones, so I would say it’s a competitive advantage. As an example, we have had vendors who knew more about the inventory we held in stock at our sites than we did because our systems were siloed,” says Coupal. “We’ve been able to streamline vendor transactions because we now have an integrated system and an asset maintenance planning perspective. This enables material forecasting, allowing us to have a single purchase order for future requirements from a vendor instead of six, or often many more.”
“The flexibility of Dynamics AX has enabled us to custom develop a lightweight production statistics module that keeps track of our production details. It’s being used to drive our finance, material and our maintenance functionality based on production volumes in the mining pit,” adds Coupal.