It’s time to go-go-gooo! I jump out of bed, pull on my exercise clothes and flash out of the door. After a few quick stretches, I’m down the road and running next to one of my local freshwater lakes. The sun glistens bright and golden on the water and ducks are slowly emerging from their slumber. The fresh, crisp morning air clears my mind and I am ready for the day.
I’ve bounced back home and am ready for the next race – racing the clock to be ready to leave at 7.00 am. Optimisation and making processes more efficient has been a valuable skill set that has translated well from my work to help me complete this task. The “Getting Ready” sequence can be executed in 30 minutes, 29 on efficient days.
That’s me showered, dressed, lunch packed and I’m on my way to work. I enjoy the half an hour drive and the time that I can listen to my audiobooks.
I arrive at work – Rio Tinto’s Remote Operations Centre. This is where the company’s mines, ports, and rail systems are all operated from a single location – more than 1000km away from the action! I’m part of the Fixed Plant Control Systems Team who looks after all the fixed plant equipment such as stackers, reclaimers, train loaders, and screen houses. These machines are amongst the biggest in the business and deal with the processing of the ore after it has gone through the crusher to be made into finer pieces, sorting it, stockpiling it, and then loading it onto the trains and sent to the ports where it’s loaded onto a ship and sent to our customers.
I’ve settled in at my desk, going through my emails, checked what’s on the calendar for me today, and brought up my “to-do” list. But before I get onto those tasks I need some energy! It is Monday and Mondays definitely need coffee. Keep Cups in hand, the team and I head out for our usual morning coffee. The sun is out, and we are all standing around chatting as we wait for our coffee orders to be called out.
I’m fortunate to be working on and writing logic for one of the coolest machines in the business – a reclaimer. This machine, as you can see below, has a giant bucketwheel with which it scoops up ore from the stockpile. This ore travels down the conveyor on the boom of the reclaimer and this then goes into a chute which loads up trains with the ore to send to the ports. So, once caffeinated, I check the weekly reclaimer report to see how my machine has been working. Not too many alarms showing up and productivity is looking good! Time to get Microsoft SQL open and pull some data from the database to investigate what those alarms were.
Time to do some of my own reclaiming – I reclaim spoonfuls of muesli into me as I keep an eye at some trends. I watch trends to get insights into the specific performance of the reclaimer which helps me to know what code needs a bit of tweaking. Trends are friends!
I grab my notebook and favourite green pen and head to the common area for the morning stand-up meeting where the whole team comes together for a morning catch-up. We discuss any safety incidents that happened the previous day and the initial findings or improvements that may help keep our workplace safe. These safety incidents are shared across the business, even at the offices, so that we can all learn from them. We also discuss how we are progressing on our tasks and what tasks we will be working on today. This helps us all stay up to date with what other team members are working on so that we can help each other out.
Noise-canceling headphones on and I enter focus mode as I listen to my instrumental tunes. Time to get coding! I write code on PLCs (programmable logic controllers) which run much of the equipment on site. These are a special purpose computer which we can program with very specific instructions to automate the machines.
Finally, lunchtime – I’ve been very excited about my spaghetti bolognese all morning! After heating up my lunch, I sit down with the team and we open the instructions for our Lego digger – time to get building!
Time to write up a Change Management form for some new code that I want to implement to improve the productivity of the reclaimer. This form captures what changes I’ll be making, what the impact of this will be as well as what some potential risks are, and how I will mitigate them. Done. Sent. Next on the list.
Now for a catch-up with the site to hear how things have been going that side. Liaising with the site is an important part of my role. We have to check with the site engineers to understand any issues that they have been observing with the machine to give us an idea if we need to make any changes to the code. It’s also a good chance to catch-up with the site engineers to find out when they have maintenance shuts planned and when the machine won’t be operating.
With the site engineers happy with the changes I want to implement, I can go ahead and book my flights and accommodation, and then I’ll be all sorted for my site visit next week! I’m mainly based in Perth at the Operation Centre, but I go up to the mine site every couple of months when we are commissioning new logic to the machines.
Back to more coding! Hmmm, what’s the best way to go about writing this code? Might be time for a walk so my mind can churn away at the problem.
And that’s a wrap! I tidy-up my desk and wave goodbye to my team. It’s time to head home so that I can beat the traffic!