All the mining companies and the other companies, in general, face many constraints which tend to limit their production. For the companies to achieve their desired results, they must come up with some ways which will help them to address these constraints. The major constraint which limits the production of companies is the capital or the financial constraint since for any company to operate at its maximum capacity and produce the maximum possible outputs, it needs to have enough capital which will help it to purchase all the required raw materials, employ enough labor in its operations, and process all the available raw materials to produce the maximum possible outputs which can be produced when the company is operating at full capacity, and this will help the company to make the maximum possible returns or profits. However, it’s usually very hard to get a company with all the required capital which can help it to meet all the requirements which can help it to operate at its maximum capacity.
Like in many other companies, the main constraint in the production process of our mining company is the financial constraint. As we know, mining is a very complex processes which requires a lot of finances which are used in the extraction of minerals, processing of minerals, purchasing of new mining machines, maintenance of the available machines, paying for the expensive labor in the mining sector, among many other uses. Our company does not have all the required finances which can help it to achieve all these operations as required and so it’s forced to operate according to its financial capabilities which means it does not operate at its maximum capacity and thus does not produce the maximum possible outputs in its production process. There are many measures which the company can undertake to help it to address or support this constraint for it to achieve better results in its production process. Some of these measures include looking of new sources of finances even if the company will be forced to take some loans which it will repay in the future after generating enough profits, prioritizing the most important operations in the company and allocating them adequate finances as they are the most important operations which contribute to the production of the company, controlling or managing the maintenance practices in the company, managing the available assets well to meet most of its demands, among many other measures. In this section, we shall consider how managing the maintenance practices accordingly and proper management of the available assets can help the company to address the financial constraint in a way. Firstly, to consider the proper management of the maintenance practices, we know that there are very many and heavy machines used in the mining company and these machines are very expensive to be repaired in cases of breakdown and it’s also very expensive to buy new machines. Therefore the company should always be very keen to make sure the machines are serviced regularly and maintained as required which is less costly as compared to repairs in cases of breakdown or purchasing of new machines. By so doing, the company will save some finances which it can use to enhance its production process. Managing the assets of the company properly to avoid wastage is also very important in helping to address the financial constraint of the company. The assets of the company should be managed well to avoid destructions or losses which can make the company incur new expenses to repair the destroyed products or replace the lost assets. By making the company avoid these expenses, the company can use the finances which could have been used in the repair or replacement of some assets to improve its production process. Therefore, we can generally say that managing the maintenance practices accordingly and proper management of the available assets play a role in addressing the financial constraint of the company as the company is able to save some finances which it can use in improving its production process.
All the mining companies and the other companies which have some machines used in their production process normally have a well-defined maintenance section. The main goal of the maintenance section is to make sure all the machines or equipment are working properly and as required for a smooth production process to be achieved in the company. To achieve this goal in our company, we have the repair and the maintenance team which work together to check the conditions of all the machines or the equipment in the company. The maintenance team normally work on the normally functioning machines to service them to reduce the cases of possible failure which may occur in the future. They try to preserve the machines and try to return them back to their original design capabilities and look to apply some modifications where they feel the capabilities of the machines are inadequate and the modifications can help to improve these capabilities. When the companies are repairing the machines or the equipment, they assume that the economic benefits of doing the maintenance outweigh the costs of repairing the machines or replacing the machines. This assumption is always true and valid with some machines whose costs of maintenance are negligible when compared to the costs of repair or the costs replacement of the machines, but the assumption is always untrue and invalid in some few and extraordinary cases where the costs of maintenance are almost equal or more than the costs of repair or even the costs of replacements of the machines. When talking about the maintenance team, we can’t forget to mention the repair team who they work together and are always situated in the same departments in most companies. The main role of the repair team is usually to do some repairs on the faulty machines to make sure the machines get back to their normal operations.
In our company, the purpose of maintenance is always clear. The main purpose of maintenance is to service the properly functioning machines with the aims of reducing the chances of failure or breakage in the future and to identify and implement some modifications which can be made to improve the capabilities and the functionalities or the efficiency of the machines. To achieve this goal satisfactorily, there are some conditions which need to be met. Some of these conditions include having a high-qualified and a highly-skilled maintenance team which is committed to working for the benefits of the company, having enough finances set for maintenance practices, having a well-defined program of maintenance programs, among other conditions. These conditions are well-defined at a minimum mandatory level in our company and they make the maintenance practices in the company to be done as required to enhance smooth running of the company.
The goal tree of the company is shown in the figure below. From the goal tree diagram, we can tell that the main goal of the company is to improve or increase the profits of the company which can achieved mainly by increasing the throughput of the company, reducing the operation costs, and choosing the best investment strategy.
The goal tree diagram of the company
As already discussed, the maintenance section is one of the major sections in our company and this section deals with the maintenance and the repair of the machines and the equipment in the company to make sure the production process flows smoothly. As much as maintenance helps to improve the production process of the company, there are some undesirable effects which result from the maintenance section. Some of these undesirable effects include increasing the cases of pollution in the company, making the company to incur some extra costs or expenses, reducing the overall profits of the company, may affect the health conditions of some employees or even to the members of the general public, may lead to some cases of accidents in the company, may result to some management problems in the company, among many other undesirable effects. All these undesirable effects normally result from the maintenance activities in the company, and so, maintenance can be seen as the root cause of the undesirable effects. To start with the undesirable effect of increased pollution, the main causes of the increased pollution are the wastes which result from maintenance practice and these wastes include the smoke which may be emitted by some machines during the maintenance process, some solid or some liquid wastes which may be released during the maintenance practice, among other wastes. The undesirable effect of increased costs or expenses incurred by the company results from the fact that maintenance requires a huge amount of capital for effective maintenance of the many and the complex mining machines. The undesirable effect of reducing the overall profits earned by the company result from the fact that the company is forced to spend a good share of its profits in paying for the labor and purchasing the other materials required during the maintenance practice. The undesirable effect of affecting the health of the employees and even the members of the general public result from the fact that maintenance leads to emission of some harmful fumes and other toxic wastes which when inhaled or when they come into contact with the bodies of people have some harmful effects on their health. The undesirable effect of increased accidents result from the fact that maintenance is a very risky process as the experts deal with highly dangerous machines which can cause accidents and injure them at any time and so they must always be very careful to avoid the injuries or causing some accidents when doing the maintenance. Maintenance can also cause the undesirable effect of management problems especially in times of the selection of the maintenance teams which is usually coupled with very hot debates and disagreements on who should be selected and who should not be selected to join the maintenance teams. There are some other undesirable effects which result from maintenance practice in the company and these effects have various causes but the undesirable effects and the causes we have discussed above are the main ones in our mining company.
The undesirable effects of maintenance and their causes in our mining company can be shown by a simple current reality tree (CRT) shown below:
From the CRT above, we can see that maintenance is the ultimate root cause of all the undesirable effects which cause different harms to the company, to the people working in the company, and even to the people who don’t work in the company but live in the areas surrounding the company.
In the operation of companies, we have some core conflicts which are very hard to solve and the root cause of these conflicts is insufficient funds which are required to meet all the different demands on the companies. These conflicts force the companies to be very keen on making their decision as fulfilling one need (demand) mostly alters another demand which won’t be fulfilled as required. Evaporating cloud (EC) is a technique which has been formulated to help the learners in understanding the conflicts which arise in the companies as they try to meet different necessary demands which need to be realized for the production of the companies to flow smoothly.
From the evaluating cloud, we learn that one of the main objectives of the companies is to make some profits. For the profits to be realized, there are some factors (or demands) which determine how the profits will be realized and how much profits will be realized and these factors conflict with each other as they try to be realized by the company. These main factors are reducing the operational expenses, concentrating on spending less money, making the right investment, and increasing the throughput. All these factors are interrelated in a way and can be represented diagrammatically as shown below:
From the diagram, we can see that for good profits to be realized, the throughput must be increased and for the throughput to be increased, the right investment decision must be made. Also, for good profits to be realized, the operational costs must be reduced and to reduce the operational costs, we must concentrate on spending less money. Therefore, there arises a core difficult conflict on how all these factors should be realized and balanced for the company to enjoy good profits.
The figure shows that D and D’ are somehow opposite in the sense that we can’t make the right and the most appropriate investment while at the same time concentrating on spending less money. The right and the most appropriate investment requires a huge amount of capital to be realized. D is a prerequisite of B and D’ is a prerequisite of C in the sense that B and D go together for good profits to be realized and C and D’ goes together for realizing good profits. D’ puts B into jeopardy in the sense that we can’t increase the throughput when concentrating on spending less money, and D puts C into jeopardy in the sense that we can make the right and the most appropriate investment when at the same time working to reduce the operational expenses.
The interrelationships of the factors as shown in the diagram help us to come up with some assumptions and some injections which can be used to understand the performance of the company well. From the D-D’ relation, we can see that these two factors conflict each other which can lead to the assumption that the company is not making enough profits, and so we come up with an injection that the company should come up with a new strategy which can help it make the right investment decision focusing on the insufficient funds constraint. The B-D relation can lead to the assumptions that the company has reached its maximum capacity or that there’s a higher downtime on the constraint where we can propose some injections such as establishment of the right maintenance strategy for the constraint, identifying and prioritizing the most critical parts of the constraint, among other appropriate injections. The C-D’ relation helps us make the assumption that there’s too much investment and some of the proposed injections which can help to address this conflict are developing the right purchasing plan which can help to address this conflict or constraint, communicating this conflict or constraint with the key stakeholders to come with the solutions to address the conflict, and prioritizing the purchasing evaluation giving consideration to the constraint. The A-B relation can help to raise the assumption that the company is not generating enough products and the proposed injections which can be used to address this assumption are that the company needs to focus on the constraint and maximize its production and also make some plans and schedules which can help to address the constraint. Lastly, the A-C relation can make us come with the assumption that there are too many assets and equipment in the company and some of the proposed injections which can help to solve this issue are that the company should implement the right data system which can help to control the cost and the assets of the company, decreasing the investment for non-constraint, and identifying and addressing the critical parts for the constraint.
Considering all the discussed relations and assumptions and applying the proposed injections will help the company to address the main conflicts or constraints which arises as it tries to achieve good profits in its operations.