Plant Supervisors

Teck Q3,2021 • iOS App • 0 → 1


  • Sole designer; lead foundational research, product prioritization, and metrics alignment, wireframing, prototyping, and specs for development.
  • Product shaping with Shelley H. (product owner)

Problem to solve

  • Through foundational research we discovered that coal processing plant supervisors were having trouble understanding overall plant health in a timely manner.
  • They frequently missed opportunities to prevent plant downtime.
  • There were clear opportunities to improve communication among supervisors and equipment operators.

💁 You can think of a processing plant like a human digestive system – there are circuits to grind mechanically, to seperate chemically, ways to filter and to dry – in order to get to the good stuff. Sometimes we call all this “washing”. Supervisors make sure everything is running smoothly and that everyone is safe.


  • An iOS app that the supervisors could use anywhere in the processing plant that would provide alerts to events affecting plant health; easy access to plant KPIs and sensor data; and provide the start of a communication and collaboration platform for supervisors and operators.
  • A virtuous loop could be created where good supervisor actions to events are captured and learned to provide better event detection and troubleshooting guidance in the future.


  • Expected annualized 1.5% yield uplift for 1 mine site.
    (60,000 tons or ~$19.5m at Q1 2022 steelmaking coal prices)

More about the design process...

Product prioritization 

One of my favorite idea generating exercises is the “write storm”. The above was generated in 15 minutes with 5 particpants. Another 20 minutes was spent clarifying, grouping, and prioritizing the ideas. Doing this exercise with stakeholders and users captures priorities and incentives from different roles and parts of the business which is essential for the success of a new product.

Arriving at UX and business metrics

To arrive at good metrics I considered current supervisor actions and goals in the processing plant in tandem with proposed interactions with the new app. This revealed important points of interaction that either generated value for the business or helped the supervisor achieve their goals. Metrics were derived from a balance of these two so that everyone benefits. An additional benefit to this approach is that data sources for the metrics also become clear.

Future Directions

  • Scale across different mine sites.
  • Incorporate additional roles like the maintenance supervisor.
  • Integrate a knowledge repository that captures troubleshooting and pre-emptive actions and attach that to event alerts.