Get Out of Your Rut

By Tyler Faulkner • July 1st, 2020

If you image search for “rut” on Google, you’ll see two things:

1) Pictures of deep, well-defined, muddy tire tracks

2) Deer in the act of… doing things that deer do

Neither are particularly nice to think about, but thankfully, this blog is only concerned with the former.

As engineers, geologists, surveyors, etc., we all have our own workflows to produce deliverables – maps, reserve reports, blasting plans, you name it. The effectiveness of our workflows is the difference between leaving the office on time and staying late to fix that one frustrating error. Sometimes we use a workflow because our predecessor taught us to do it that way. Other times we follow a series of steps that we developed on our own using the tools we had available at the time. As long as the job gets done, the workflow is deemed acceptable, or at least “good enough”, and so we will naturally follow the same steps next time.
I can’t blame someone for continuing to do what works, but over time, it’s easy to fall into a rut. For the purpose of this blog post, let’s define a rut as a familiar workflow that you are opposed to deviating from. Granted, many workflows get the job done, but it’s important to be open-minded to new ways of thinking. Ruts prevent us from being more efficient, or in other words, they keep us from getting our work done in a faster/cheaper/better/less muddy way. “Good is the enemy of Great”. However, once you simply start asking yourself “Is there a better way to do this?” you are already on your way to getting out of your ruts.

As someone who uses Carlson Mining on a daily basis, I understand that there are multiple ways to do just about everything with our Geology, Underground Mining, and Surface Mining modules. For example, maybe you need to define precedence rules for a for your pit timing blocks to prevent illogical or impossible mine sequencing. In other words – you need to create a rule so that Pit 1 is mined before Pit 2. Your normal workflow might be to use the Edit Pit command on Pit 2, use the Screen Pick tool, and click inside of Pit 1. Essentially four clicks to assign precedence to one timing block.

It gets the job done, but it’s repetitive, slow, and not quickly reproducible if your design changes. Did you know there’s a better way to do this?

Check out the Pit Precedence by Polylines command (Surface Mining Module > Boundary Pulldown Menu > Pit Timing Quantities). Instead of working with one block at a time, you can process all of your precedence rules at once.

With this command, there’s no repetitive series of clicks, it’s significantly faster, and it’s easily reproduced if your design changes. This command alone could save you minutes, even hours of work if you’re constantly tweaking a mine plan (note that Carlson 2021 will have a similar command for Underground Mine Panels).

Some of you reading this might say “Well… duh” but until you learn about the faster option, you won’t realize how much time and energy is wasted on the slower option. This is why it’s so important to be on the lookout for alternative options and to ask yourself “is there a better way to do this?”

So, how you find better ways? Here are a few options to actively search for existing alternatives, as well as stay informed about what is coming down the pipeline.

1) Search the Help Manual!

Using our timing precedence as an example – one quick search for the word “precedence” and bang, right there it is. Regardless of the topic, start your inquiry by entering a few keywords into the search bar of the help manual (Help Pulldown Menu > Carlson Help).

The manual also contains a list of the new features in the annual upgrade – a very quick way to learn about new tools!

We are constantly updating our help so that you always have a resource at your fingertips. If you find the help manual isn’t helpful, let us know! Send me an email at and I’ll see to it that we correct it.

2) Google it!

I encourage anyone to run a quick Google search before you start using other, less immediate sources of information. You might find your answer faster than you can write an email or make a call!

3) Ask Carlson!

Carlson is well known for top notch customer service. We want you to succeed, and we’re happy to help! You probably already know your sales/support contact at Carlson, but if not, give us a call at 606-564-5028 or email us at and we’ll direct you to the right group. Whether you’re using Carlson’s Machine Control solutions, Laser Measurement Devices, Office Software, or Data Collection hardware/software, someone will be able to answer your questions.

We’re also happy to provide training sessions in-person or online (special emphasis on the online option lately). Training sessions are customized to your needs, even if you’re just looking for a refresher on what you’re already doing.

4) Like/follow/subscribe to our social media

Carlson’s YouTube channel contains countless hours of video training content. It’s very likely that you’ll find a new method to get the job done.

Each major update to Carlson’s office software is accompanied by a “What’s New” video. Check out the improvements in Carlson 2020 here.

We announce webinars, new products, and more on our LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter pages.

5) Check out Carlson Academy!

Carlson Academy is our online learning system for customers on the annual maintenance plans. Here you can take courses that walk you through various workflows.

Ruts are natural, but they aren’t always beneficial. Look for opportunities to improve, and don’t be afraid to Break New Ground!

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