During 2014, the mining industry will continue to feel the effects of the resources downturn with commodity pricing shifts and limited access to capital expenditure causing uncertainty.
Australian miners face a challenging period where they need to focus on optimising their existing processes in order to reduce costs while at the same time increase production. Companies who are able to manage costs across their entire supply chain, and manage production and scheduling based on better demand forecasting, should be well positioned.
To help do this, we believe that the sector should look to solutions that aid decision-making in all key areas – including energy utilisation, production, asset management and supply chain optimisation.
When making efficiency decisions, it's important to take a longer term approach to cost analysis and also understand the wider context of the decision at hand. For example, it's vital that miners analyse energy costs in context to production, in context to supply constraints and demand requirements. Every component in the plant that provides information makes up a piece of this puzzle, and can ultimately aid in the intelligent decision making process of where to optimise, gain efficiencies or reduce costs.
On the whole, decision making processes are becoming increasingly more complex, so it's important that the sector has an uncomplicated intelligence view with access to real-time supply and demand forces and constraints. Customers using a single vendor solution rightly have an expectation that this will provide them with additional benefits such as better diagnostics, easier connectivity, reduced integration risk and optimised performances. In our experience, it's crucial that single vendor platforms are based on open technologies and industry standards, as this will not only facilitate the implementation of future technology developments, but will also make it easier to integrate with third party systems when required.
Investment into new and current mining operations has to be made with informed decision making solutions in mind as these will help ensure the long term sustainability of the operation. For new projects, this approach will ultimately ensure the creation of integrated, intelligent operations, enabling optimum productivity and controlled quality. For existing operations the ability to sweat your assets by extending their life through better asset management and increasing the value of their input to decision-making toolsets, will ensure the best possible return on investment.
2014 will be a challenging year for the mining sector – however operations that can base their decision-making on sound contextual data will be able to thrive in any market environment.