“At the six-month point in adoption of REALagility, the team was united in their vision, and had come to a point of capacity that no one had imagined.”

Darin, Supervisor at Suncor

Unearthing Profits with REALagility

Suncor is a pioneer in the commercial development of Canada’s oil sands.

It is now a globally competitive integrated energy company. Suncor brings in an annual revenue exceeding $29 billion. After its merger with Petro Canada in 2013, Suncor became the second-largest company in Canada with more than 13,000 employees worldwide. In a competitive market and tough economy, Suncor’s mining projects division was under pressure to deliver more with less. Turning to BERTEIG’s REALagility Program, they were able to achieve more than their original goals.

Within one year of implementation, BERTEIG’s proprietary REALagility program exceeded expectations earning ten million dollars in cost savings. This surplus was the direct result of the guidance from and collaboration with a BERTEIG certified REALagility consultant.

Agile Mining at Suncor - D11 Cat - small

Key Business Benefits Identified


THE PROBLEM: Suncor operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The oilsands mining project department works in 12-hour shifts with a “crossover” of people every shift change. This crossover is a crucial moment for everyone to communicate about status of work on the mine site, but it is costly because machines are left idle during this time. Lengthy and chaotic crossovers caused huge amounts of rework due to gaps in co-ordination. One shift would start some work, but the following shift, not knowing any better, would undo that work and start something else. This was costing the company millions of dollars every year.

THE SOLUTION: BERTEIG introduced customized visual communication tools that allowed project supervisors, shift supervisors, and all staff and contractors to perform the crossover faster and with better communication, almost eliminating rework altogether. For example, two supervisors saved $50,000 by avoiding a few hours of rework that would be typical of their old way of working.

Agile Mining at Suncor - Dealing with Crisis


THE PROBLEM: Suncor’s mine site is open to the elements. Every time it snowed, the 400-ton-capacity haul trucks had to be stopped for safety reasons. A single haul truck’s oilsand typically produced 200 barrels of oil, and there are up to 600 loads a day! The mining projects department was tasked with cleaning up snow and helping the mine site recover from significant weather-related events. Cleanup typically lasted over 24 hours and resulted in up to $5 million dollars of lost revenue per day.

THE SOLUTION: BERTEIG introduced systematic continuous improvement tools that allowed the mining projects’ superintendent and his supervisors to speed up crisis recovery time from over a day to as little as a few hours. This improvement saved Suncor from losing hundreds of millions in revenue in just a year.


THE PROBLEM: Supervisors were in constant conflict about how to get things done, who needed to do what, and what the department’s priorities were. This conflict was so bad that it was causing health problems and absenteeism, and was indirectly linked to safety and quality issues such as getting the right amount of limestone to a new site road at the right time. Leadership time was required to resolve these problems, distracting them from strategic planning and business improvement activities.

THE SOLUTION: BERTEIG introduced advanced teamwork techniques and coached the superintendent and his supervisors to form a high-performance management team. Truthfulness and love replaced politics and conflict, and led to one team member wanting to delay his retirement, saying “I love my work for the first time in 30 years!”

Since the implementation of a 6-month REALagility program, Suncor’s mining projects department saved $10M/yr in operating costs, prevented $100M’s/yr of work stoppages, and created team cohesion where managers and staff loved their work again.

Darin Zandee

Agile Mining at Suncor - Portable Task Board
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