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Cunning Solutions to Process Improvement


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Author T J Napier-Munn


This paper proceeds from the premise that process improvement is a key part
of the mineral engineer’s role, and one in which he/she can make a significant
contribution to shareholder value. It presents four tools to help with process
improvement projects. Two are designed for process monitoring, to determine as
soon as possible whether there has been a true change in performance: the
cumulative sum (cusum) control chart plot with V-mask, and the control chart
using a process model. The other two are used for process optimisation: simplex
self-directing evolutionary operation (SSDEVOP), and a response surface model
developed using a central composite rotatable experimental design (CCRD). These
methods are robust, have a rigorous theoretical basis and are easy to implement.
They also promote project continuity which increases the chances of success,
particularly in fly-in/fly-out (FIFO) operations. Variants are used in other
industries, but they are rarely if ever applied in mineral processing to-day for
reasons which are unclear. The paper gives examples of the application of each
method in concentrators which demonstrate that they have the potential to be
useful additions to the mineral engineer’s professional toolbox.


Napier-Munn, T J, 2014. Cunning
solutions to process improvement, in Proceedings 12th AusIMM Mill Operators’
Conference 2014
, pp 5–10 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and
Metallurgy: Melbourne).