Aveva’s Phil Ciezak talks with Australian Mining about what the evolution of asset performance management means for mining.
Australian Mining: There are several buzz phrases in today’s industrial environment and mining companies are no exception. We all hear things like digital transformation and Industry 4.0 all day long, but there is one phrase that often has miners confused: Smart Manufacturing. What exactly does Smart Manufacturing mean to a mining company?
Phil Ciezak: Thanks. Yes, it’s true. In my opinion, these phrases are often overused, or used out of context, especially during board meetings. Look, ‘Smart Manufacturing’ was initially conceived to advance discrete manufacturing.
While auto, electronic, aviation, and similar industries produce smart connected products made from bills of materials (BOMs), the mining, metals and minerals industries are more concerned with transforming their mineral reserves and resources into saleable products, so really the focus of ‘Smart Manufacturing’ in a mining context is the all about the process itself, perhaps even more so than the final product.
AM: I see … so, things like optimising the mining value chain and its critical assets, correct?
PC: Exactly. One of the big pain points that AVEVA sees across the mining industry at present is centred around Asset Performance Management, APM for short. So, in a mining context, Industry 4.0 actually translates to APM 4.0, which is a big step forward from APM 3.0.
Let me explain. If we take a step back, APM 1.0 was all about paper-based systems and processes; then APM 2.0 added transactional systems, computerised maintenance management systems (CMMS) and other time-based systems; then APM 3.0 brought about the instrumentation of assets and the use of real-time data and that’s when condition-based maintenance was born.
But APM 4.0 goes far beyond that. It introduces machine learning, artificial intelligence, and a combination of AR/VR and IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) devices to deliver a prescriptive maintenance plan that analyses different asset and market scenarios and recommend the best way to move forward without under-maintaining, or over-maintaining critical assets.
AM: Very interesting. And the ‘Digital Twin’ is another buzz phrase out there. How does that fit into the APM concept?
PC: A Digital Twin, in the APM 4.0 sense, is so much more than just a piece of equipment’s engineering design documents in electronic format.
A true Digital Twin is a digital representation of an asset or a system of assets that starts with the original engineering design and carries forward to include the digital image of how a piece of equipment has been operated in the past, is currently operating, and most importantly, through simulation and modelling, will operate in the future.
AM: And what does a Digital Twin bring to the table? Why would a mining company want to implement a Digital Twin?
PC: A Digital Twin opens up a whole new set of immediate opportunities, such as reconciling actual ore body concentration against geotechnical models, understanding operator impact of productivity and equipment operating costs to drive higher profitability, modifying block plans to facilitate consistent margin as prices vary, reducing MRO spend by altering operating profiles, and improving safety through enhanced training.
These opportunities then enable other broader enterprise goals such as reducing downtime and increasing reliability, improving the planned-to-unplanned maintenance ratios, and reducing overall energy costs.
AM: Why is APM a hot topic all of the sudden?
PC: It comes down to the rapid and great advances in two things: technology and cost. The ability to capture and analyse data has increased immensely in the last few years, and the cost of doing it has decreased dramatically in parallel.
Today, simple IIoT devices can collect information in amounts and speeds only imaginable in the past, while the cost of cloud and hybrid (on-premise + cloud) computing and big data analytics has reached a level in which it is now very affordable to run true APM 4.0 applications.
AM: With those technological advances available now, one could tell that APM 4.0 is not happening only in the mining sector, is that correct?
PC: That is true. It’s really happening across all industrial verticals. If you break down the features of critical equipment, you will see that features like vibration, noise, pressure, temperature, and so on, can be treated and analysed in a similar way regardless of the industry.
At AVEVA, we’ve seen some very good results in terms of return on investment (ROI) at our customers. As soon as management understands the financial benefits of these type of applications, the approval process tends to be an easy one.
AM: Can you tell us some of the benefits that you’ve seen in your customers?
PC: It always depends on the type of assets, the industry, and the operational conditions, but we’ve seen up to 30 per cent improvement in asset utilisation, 25 per cent decrease in unplanned downtime, and 20 per cent more asset availability.
AM: It seems that a true digital transformation can deliver substantial benefits to mining companies. But how and where to start?
PC: Our advice is to find a strong technology partner. Look for those that can bring best practice domain expertise and combine this with a focussed approach to plan and shape such a transformation.
A good strategy is one that spans across both the asset and operations lifecycle – the way to rapid and profitable digital revolution.
Phil Ciezak is the mining, minerals, and metals segment director for AVEVA in the Australia and New Zealand (A&NZ) region (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This article originally appeared in the November 2018 issue of Australian Mining magazine.