Digital effectiveness – an industry priority

The EY report Top 10 business risks facing mining and metals 2017–2018 provides insight into the state of the sector, and what will drive competitive advantage in the foreseeable future.  As Managing Director of a key player in the mining technology sector, I was interested but not surprised to see that a new addition to the list had taken out the top spot.  Digital effectiveness is now considered a major priority, with companies recommended to push their technologies to solve urgent business issues and improve productivity and margin across the value chain.

EY Global Mining & Metals Advisory Leader Paul Mitchell comments that this year’s business risks report ‘clearly reflects the positive uptick in the market — volatility has eased off in a number of commodities, and balance sheets are in a better position. It is now all about how you stay ahead of the competition — gaining competitive advantage and being at the lower end of the cost curve is key’. 

The EY report encouraged operations to be pragmatic when targeting digital enhancements, and highlighted that investing in integration and expanding usage of current applications can also generate a lot of value. In 2017, Maptek released a new 5-year Technology Roadmap outlining a strategic approach in solutions integration which enables customers to broaden ways they can exploit their data, bolstering data sharing, understanding, predictive capabilities and auditability across the mining value chain.  

Digital transformation, automation, connectivity, integration and Internet of Things are now familiar terms in mining thought leadership. But what does targeting digital enhancements pragmatically actually mean? Miners are historically one of the slower adopters of disruptive technologies, and for valid reasons – we operate in a very complex, risky environment. However with risk comes opportunity.

The unique Maptek combination of mining domain knowledge, technical expertise and engineering resources, and a proven history of leading technological shifts in the mining industry brings us again to the forefront. Trusted to guide miners to robust technical solutions that address core business issues, Maptek is delivering the digital transformation the mining sector needs. 

Maptek users are now working within a technical platform which is able to link geological and orebody knowledge with planning and engineering tools and operational detail to enable, for example, blasting, grade control, geotechnical risk and production equipment scheduling to be managed all within the one integrated and connected environment.  

Operational equipment such as blasthole drills and explosive loading trucks are connected to the design environment, which in turn is connected to the orebody model and mine plan. Delays and equipment availability are visible in real time and the accuracy of blasting operations has never been better. The result is a more productive mine, less waste, better adherence to plan and improved decision support at a number of points in the delivery of the plan.  Only by properly modeling, measuring and understanding the interaction between orebody knowledge, planning, design and scheduling and the execution of mine operations in practise can you effectively understand where, and how, improvements can be made.

Optimisation technology and theory of constraints is also being applied to larger slices of mine operations and operating models. Optimising one discrete piece of a process is not of great value if up or downstream processes are not operating in a fashion to make the most advantage of the optimisation. Maptek technology and our integration strategy allows larger components of the mine operational plan to be optimised and more valuable improvements to be made. How are we doing this?

We are unifying our already brilliant applications through an integrated interface which allows users to work seamlessly between applications. When all data is available at your fingertips, the end point is greater than the sum of its parts. Decisions will be informed, current and effective. In short, enterprise connectivity means that multiple users can share data for multiple functions across multiple applications.

The Maptek Workbench streamlines administrative processes like licensing, downloads, audit, backup and other pain-points. Smart workflows simplify complex processes and ensure everyone is on the same page, working in the same correct way, or at least minimise risk associated with lone wolf users.

Communication is key to keeping management informed, and stakeholders on-side. Virtual reality environments let you share information in a dynamic and exciting way so that decisions can effectively reduce margins and drive growth.  All of this leads to more effective, more productive users working within a more unified technical environment.

Peter Johnson
Managing Director
January 10, 2018

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