Thursday, 17 October 2019
IMARC 2016: Richard Mathews, CEO, RungePincockMinarco
Austmine Limited
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IMARC 2016: Richard Mathews, CEO, RungePincockMinarco

On Day Two of IMARC in Austmine’s Technology Stream, we were delighted to welcome Richard Mathews, CEO of RungePincockMinarco (RPM). Richard presented on “Becoming the Connected Digital Mine of Tomorrow” – a more than apt presentation title with RPM showcasing their latest virtual reality development outside on the exhibition floor!

Richard kicked things off by noting that mining is getting harder, returns are more difficult to achieve, yet in the face of this, the industry has always taken a piecemeal approach to optimisation. He observed miners have historically used expert vendors or platforms to optimise each element of their supply chain, but that has not inherently led to an improved supply chain overall. It has led to a host of disparate systems, many of whom do not talk to one another.

For our sector to move into a digital age, and for the digital mine to become a true reality, we must have consistency across our data streams. Richard stressed that mining has been generating big data for years – the concept is not new for us. We use it all through the industry, in relation to condition based monitoring, remote operations centres, autonomous vehicles, fatigue management, geological modelling and more.

The issue with big data therefore is not in relation to the idea of it, but rather the silos of data that have been created over the last few decades. To have a digital mine, miners must have the ability to move their data around between applications. The more forward looking the data is, providing the miner with the ability to predict, improve, or prevent, even before an activity has taken place, the more valuable it is. Data should ultimately be valued on its ability to drive decision making that can improve safety, productivity and cost efficiency.

Richard went on to clarify that RPM think about this decision making potential in terms of simulation. He commented that other industries are using simulation for production plans and are seeing significant results from it. In a mining context, the capability to simulate a production plan, or maintenance plan, calculate asset performance, allocate cost based on that and then continually refine and adjust to meet the optimal cost and uptime outcomes is the next step in mining operations (see image to the left). RPM’s Xecute product can do this with fleet management and drill system integration. In an example of fantastic industry collaboration, on another of their platforms, the XPAC Open Pit Metals Solution, RPM partnered with BHP who provided a lot of information back to RPM on what they wanted from the product moving forward. The purpose of this platform was all about improving utilisation of the trucks.

Richard then turned his attention to what would need to underpin visualisation: system interconnectivity with open data transference between systems. Richard compared typical 2D views of integration with the need to think about it in a 3D manner, working across four key integration levels:

  1. Business planning & logistics
  2. Operational planning & execution
  3. Control systems
  4. Automation/devices

To help move RPM’s own software forward, they have bought their own enterprise planning framework and then had to build an integration layer between that. Richard pointed out the industry doesn’t really have a standard integration layer, which was why RPM had to build their own.

Richard spoke to the audience about the ISA standards, which were employed by BHP and RPM during their partnership to help move data between organisations. Companies such as RPM, CAT, BHP and Schneider Electric are all on a committee with ISA to help evolve these standards to include articles not previously covered, due to the ISA’s roots in manufacturing (e.g. stockpiles are being added as an article). This group is mostly focused on the business planning, logistics, operational planning and execution elements of Richard’s previously described four levels of integration.

RPM are also part of the Global Mining Standards Group, along with Vale, Rio Tinto, Joy Global, Maptek, GE Mining, Orica and Atlas Copco, amongst others, who are focusing on the standardisation of interaction between control systems and automation/devices.

Richard concluded by emphasising that data and system standardisation is critical to the future of the digital mine, and the value derived from this will be huge, across the sector. Mining’s ability to operate in a more connected approach, with clean and clear visibility will allow all players to work in a safer environment, enhance productivity, improve operational outcomes such as asset utilisation and ore cut-offs, and get a higher return on capital. Richard called on the miners and METS companies in the room to work together to bring these standards in and deliver more value to all of our customers.

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