Technology in Mining is Broken...but it can be Fixed!
by Matthew Lambert, Managing Director, Singularity One
The mining industry has been slow to embrace new technologies into production and logistic processes. Ideology flows around the fact that if a solution has previously worked to some degree of success, the process remains.
Over time processes (through manual nature) become antiquated and lack efficiency. Compounding these issues is the use of legacy proprietary technologies that have not seen significant improvements or upgrades since the 1990’s.
From a commercial perspective, many players in the software solution space for mining have built solutions using the above value sets. This results in software that has become bloated in feature set and heavily priced to support large company infrastructure.
Proprietary hardware choice creates expensive kit that can only be serviced by specialized technicians, resulting in high maintenance costs. Supply of replacement hardware is subject to availability and long delivery times.
Software decisions dictated by legacy technology relating to access, usability and location hinder performance of solutions, capability and keep pricing structures high.
Fortunately, we have now moved to point in the tech industry where the above limitations are no longer relevant. Legacy software solutions attempt to take advantage of current day tech advancement but are hobbled by development roots fundamentally relying on old technology.
Today, a new breed of tech development is taking place. This development is based on the advantages of the latest technology innovations. These advantages ensure powerful, flexible and cost-effective solutions. This results in fast implementation times and minimum downtimes.
New, agile tech solutions are changing the game in the mining industry
New tech solutions create vastly superior efficiencies across mine production and planning, leading to quantifiable positive results that directly increasing margins and bottom line.
Inexpensive data acquisition is now possible through high speed wireless networks and powerful devices. The ability to query data and see opportunities for improvement is much simpler than ten years ago. No longer do we need a team of analysts to tell us why our fleet operations are not optimal because they have crunched data in a 400MB, 22-tab excel spread sheet.
We now login and see graphical dashboards giving insights that result in operational decisions happening in real-time. This real-time decision-making process results in faster response times in solving problems which ultimately leads to further optimisation of process.
Further efficiencies have been found through accessing data in real-time
No longer do we wait until the end of month to see “how we have done”. We pick up our iPhone and see production as it happens.
User interface and experience is heightened.
Users are familiar with the operation of devices because technology is ubiquitous, meaning what is used domestically can be used commercially, i.e. the same interface that downloads Angry Birds is the same interface that installs a fleet management application.
In the case of deciding what technology should be implemented, the industry downturn has sharpened the process. The tightening of budgets has miners questioning technology choices.
Do we really need that button in egg shell blue? No, we don't. We need streamlined, efficient solutions that do the job.....and that’s it.
So next time you are faced with a technology choice ask yourself these questions:
- What am I paying for exactly and do I really need all these “nice to have” features?
- Does the technology rely on proprietary code or hardware? (If so, this can be problematic operationally)
- What are the ongoing costs? (many are hidden)
- Do I need specialist technicians onsite to ensure the solution is kept operational? (additional hidden costs)
- What is the commercial model? Am I locked in for months or years or can I stop paying if the technology doesn’t work or is not relevant?
- What support am I offered and is it included in the cost of the solution?
- How long until the solution is commercially operational and the site is seeing the benefits outlined in the sales pitch?
- How will this technology choice be implemented culturally and what change management process do I have in place?
There are many elements to introducing new tech onto a site. Navigated correctly with the right vendor and internal championing, the solution can create massive efficiencies in all aspects of site operation.
Do the home work on vendors, ask for referral clients and engage internal I.T. early in the decision-making process. By doing all of this, your site will be able to take advantage of new technologies that increase the bottom line and bring back the bonus.