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Ever expanding roles for operational managers

Ever expanding roles for operational managers


August 12, 2008
By Andy Bateman

Walk into the office of an operations manager, just a few years ago it
seems, and there would be a fairly predictable collection of paper
including production schedules, safety material, equipment manuals and
the like relating to everyday business.

Walk into the office of an operations manager, just a few years ago it seems, and there would be a fairly predictable collection of paper including production schedules, safety material, equipment manuals and the like relating to everyday business. With some variations, the collection was similar whether at an aggregate operation, hot mix asphalt plant, concrete plant or road building project.

Today’s list is much harder to predict. In addition to the “traditional” operational items, it is just as likely that there will be a chart of oil or gas futures, the latest government submission document relating to water, a consultant’s report on noise mitigation or presentation notes for an upcoming public meeting.

In essence, the combined effects of environmental, energy, social and political factors outside an operation’s property boundary are increasingly influencing what happens inside it. As a result, managers often have to rapidly acquire skills and knowledge that were not previously necessary to do the job. 

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In this issue for example, there is a site report on a Calgary road building project whose managers find the time to integrate topics as diverse as wetlands design and the price of dyed diesel into the work day. Still in Alberta, the industry news section describes how the proponent of a new sand & gravel operation near Edmonton has encountered stiff public opposition. No doubt this response will entail significant involvement in public and political meetings, mirroring the experience of the New Brunswick proponent mentioned in our last issue. In Ontario, managers at two large quarries describe water management and noise mitigation programs as the most significant recent developments at their respective operations.   

The good news is that managers across the country appear to be rapidly acquiring all the skills and knowledge necessary to fulfill their ever expanding roles, despite all the hand wringing about keeping good people in the industry. Aided by industry training programs, internal resources, suppliers and consultants, these capable men and women are meeting today’s challenges and look well set to face the future as well. 

Andy Bateman, Editor


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