Transitioning Between Explosives Suppliers

On November 10th 2021

Transitioning between explosives suppliers should ideally be as smooth as possible to prevent jeopardizing production, negatively impacting worker safety or reducing the productivity and efficiency of blast results and other established processes. Therefore, when transitioning, communication between all parties involved becomes key for a smooth and swift change over, minimizing the impact on the normal activities at site, and, in particular, preventing the interruption of the blasting process.

Once the decision is made to change supplier, a number of important areas need to be addressed to ensure production and safety are not negatively impacted at the mine site level including:

• People – which people will/will not transition to the new supplier, recruitment, training and retraining, and ensuring both site and supplier requirements are met
• Fixed & Mobile Plant – ownership of equipment, what stays or is replaced, specification and number required, lead times,
licensing and handover processes
• Products – what are the site operational requirements and approval processes, possible changes to blast designs, appropriate storage, stock, delivery and transportation, licensing, products to meet any niche applications or special needs
• Software – will any software applications be changing, interfaces with existing tools and adjustments/allowances needed to accommodate new methodologies
• Time – time required to mobilise (with buffer), transition arrangements with existing supplier and associated costs
• Cost – managing mobilisation and de-mobilisation costs
• Contract – changes to ordering processes, codes and transaction flows, set-up of new supplier in ERP system, changes to invoices approvals and payment systems, changed KPI’s to be managed

Whilst there is always risk to the mining production cycle if the explosives supplier is changed, those risks can be reduced to an acceptable level but strong management of the change-over process. Some of the issues we have seen emerging during a supplier transition are:

• Poor (or zero) management of the transition process – in some cases by the mine, other times by the explosives supplier and, worst of all, by both
• Challenges to get the new supply chain operating for both delivery of products to site and their storage
• Lack of available people to conduct the services (including poorly trained or untrained people)
• Underestimating the lead times on key pieces of fixed or mobile plant, with no back-up plans in place
• Plant and equipment that has been incorrectly specified or supplied, and maybe unable to perform the required scope
• Lack of preparation of areas for the supplier to set up – for example, a reload facility may require groundwork, fencing and licensing
• Mis-understandings about which party needs to complete which task, both in the transition and as the new supplier commences operations
• Issues arising as the incumbent supplier leaves site and winds down their contract

Successful transitioning between suppliers requires a detailed plan that accounts for the issues that are important within explosives supply, delivery and use, with defined activities and timelines that are communicated to everyone and managed until they are delivered.

Explosives contracts frequently cover product supply, some level of service to deliver the product down a hole and the provision of fixed and mobile equipment. This uncommon blend of products and services can result in mining companies struggling with the management of changing an explosives supplier given the pressure of daily operations and the intricacies of explosives contracts (covering products, services and equipment leasing) which may be un-familiar. In turn, this can become a barrier to change.

Moncourt Group works with clients to reduce the risk of transitioning to a new supplier as we provide experience, knowledge, and impartiality for both the mining company and the supplier, which can prove valuable in achieving a successful transition process. Moncourt Group has the resources to:

• Facilitate the flow of information between the parties
• Ensure the project delivery plan is on track
• Identify and manage issues that arise during the process to ensure they don’t delay the transition
• Ensure that the supplier delivers fit for purpose products, plant and people for the task
• Ensure both parties are being held accountable

Our experience and deep knowledge of the explosives industry helps us to prevent and manage negative situations that can occur during a change of supplier, helping to ensure uninterrupted operations and the implementation of a new supply agreement that delivers on what a supplier has promised.

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