The Tibbitt to Contwoyto Road

A Joint Venture of BHP Billiton (Ekati), Rio Tinto (Diavik), and De Beers (Snap Lake)

The Challenge

The Tibbitt to Contwoyto winter road begins at Tibbitt Lake at the end of Highway 4 about 60 kilometres (36 miles) east of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada. From there, it winds its way north linking three diamond mines – Ekati, Diavik, and Snap Lake.

 

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2012 Statistics

Days open: 57

Loads hauled north: 6,551

Weight hauled north: 210,188

Backhauls southbound: 890

Number of drivers: 600

There were a total of 21 hours of closures effecting operations: (19 due to snowstorm and 2 hours due to an incident along the road)

With the majority of its length constructed over ice, the road must be rebuilt each year to allow the North’s diamond mines to truck in supplies essential for operations. As the road is only open for 10 weeks each year it is essential that the winter road run with maximum efficiency. Due in part to the extreme climate and conditions of Canada’s remote north as well as the complexity and unique nature of this road, process inefficiencies exist. Though infrequent, road closures can cost those in need of supply tens of millions of dollars in additional logistics and transport expenses.

For those parties involved in the maintenance and management of the road, there is a constant struggle to maximize road usage and efficiency without compromising the safety of the drivers and users.

In evaluating the operations and needs of the winter road, management had to consider whether software automation would improve general road efficiency, enhance safety controls, and lower administrative costs.

The Solution

Garner built and implemented a customizable IT solution specifically tailored to enhance the efficiency and safety of the Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road Joint Venture. Through scheduling, reporting and tracking modules, users of the winter road were given the tools required to better plan and track shipments on the winter road.

Scheduling

Integrated scheduling features significantly enhanced the efficiency of the winter road. In addition module allowed for:

  • The elimination of radio dispatch
  • The reduction in wait time for booking slots
  • More accurate shipment planning and staffing

Reporting

The customizable reporting module provided accurate, real time information needed for enhanced road safety.

  • The ability to eliminate a dated Excel based report system
  • Significantly increased data accuracy and therefore a reduction in costly errors and omissions

GPS Tracking

The GPS Tracking module significantly increased road safety as it provided real-time locations for drivers travelling on the road. In addition, the GPS module enabled users to:

  • Locate drivers in the event of a storm or accident
  • Reduce the number of speed violations
  • Accurately staff for receiving of goods

The Results

Transportation Savings

By making the road more efficient, clients are able to reduce their need to airlift goods, resulting in significant cost savings.

Infastructure Savings

Maximizing road usage and efficiency makes it possible to delay or even eliminate the need for additional fixed link roads.

Movement and Flexibility

Developing a system which can easily create consolidations and thus reduce the number of trucks travelling on the road lessens the impact of potentially crippling road closures.

Reduced Enviromental Impact

Through efficient data compilation and disbursement, the JVWRS will reduce the environmental impact of spills, reduce the accident rate and help locate drivers in the event of a devastating storm.

Increased Productivity

Data storage and document management capabilities offered through the JVWRS increases user efficiency through the automation of labour and paper-intensive processes.