Industry Q&A: Utilising Data to Streamline Operations
The digital revolution has kicked into gear in the mining industry, with the implementation of remote operations centres and fleet automation a prime example of this. However, the general consensus is that mining is still years’ behind other industries in embracing advanced technologies and innovations. Austmine recently caught up with John Vagenas, Managing Director, Metallurgical Systems to gather his thoughts on the transformation of the mining life cycle towards more streamlined and optimised processes. John echoes the views of many industry leaders by stating that data will be the catalyst for industry change and provides his expert opinion on we can utilise it.
1. What steps can be taken for the mining industry to utilise the abundance of data that is now available to it? Have you seen advancements in this area that suggest data is being more effectively used now as compared to 2 or 3 years ago?
The main thing that is required to take advantage of the abundance of data is the ability to collect, transform and arrange it into a useful form. There is limited value in having masses of information if it can’t be put to work, to enhance understanding of operations and to help make better decisions. A great innovation that assists in this area is the rise of interactive, connected data visualisation software, such as Tableau.
2. How big a role does change management play in integration of a new data management software, or any technology for that matter?
Huge. It is particularly important to effectively communicate the role and benefits of the new technology to all stakeholders, to try and get as many people as possible to buy in.
This pays dividends when it is time to consider the outputs generated by a new system, as it means that any perceived differences don’t have to be excessively debated.
3. With the constant progression of technologies and rapid innovation changing the entire nature of industries, what do you believe mining will look like in a decade from now? What are the drivers that will get us to where we want to be?
A decade from now, the use of data as the basis of decision making will be commonplace. Operations will have employed methods to take advantage of all the information generated on a mine site and to use it to its full effect.
4. How important is a ‘single source of truth’ and user-friendliness when it comes to managing data? How can we ensure that employees throughout the mining value chain can interpret and understand the data?
Having a single source of truth is essential when it comes to managing data. It is essential that users are confident in the accuracy of the information they are receiving, that it has come from where it should have. Without this confidence, the value of that data is greatly reduced.
For the second part, it is actually not possible to guarantee that employees will be able to interpret and understand everything they see, but it is important to remove as many barriers as possible to allow access to well-organised, high quality data.
5. Does big data have the power to completely revolutionise the day-to-day operations of miners? Why/ why not?
Absolutely. Big data allows miners to make decisions based on actual information, on data that has been collected from or generated by their operations.
It allows managers to consider a broad range of information when determining operating strategies, and to effectively measure the impact of these strategies.