One of the largest mining companies in the world had developed a complex system for predicting productivity at its mining operations. This tool evaluates hundreds of variables and gives recommendations to mine operators on how to optimize their work to maximize production and minimize waste. The tool is intended to take large amounts of complex information and formulas, and provide an easy to use interface to guide activities. Employee acceptance was the critical success factor for the company. Production employees have significant influence in how a technology is utilized. To ensure employee satisfaction, the company realized they should take a user-centered approach, and asked us to help them to achieve their goals.
We visited one of the companies largest mining operations to observe how employees worked, and interviewed them to understand what factors influence productivity. We found that operators frequently maximized certain activities, which actually led to more waste. We recognized that there would need to be significant investment in training and socialization among employees. We also iteratively designed an interface that provides easy access to information along with clear indication of what factors should be adjusted to optimize performance. A clickable prototype was developed and reviewed with employees who provided input that was incorporated in iterated designs.
After conducting employee interviews that included interaction with the clickable prototype, we were able to report that our research-based, iterative approach led to interest among employees, and the company is moving forward with development.