The pursuit by mining companies to build remote mining capabilities is being met by RPMGlobal’s cloud technology solutions. Australian Mining explores how the company has stayed at the forefront of this shift.
With the trend towards remote working gathering pace, and the enormous amount of data now being generated by mining operations, companies are increasingly showing an interest in cloud technology.
Mine infrastructure has steadily improved in recent years, from underground Wi-Fi networks that are now tried and tested, to using artificial intelligence (AI) to find improvements in data and remotely operating equipment from hundreds of kilometres away.
These advancements are just some of the many catalysts for the migration of mining software and data to the cloud, consistent with other industries that have already moved in this direction.
“Miners may not be the first mover or adopter of new technology in the market, but they are very fast followers,” RPMGlobal chief executive and managing director Richard Mathews tells Australian Mining.
Transitioning to a cloud environment
The industry’s recent adoption of cloud solutions has been met by RPMGlobal’s steady development of enterprise and integrated cloud capabilities across almost the last decade.
Seven to eight years ago, the company started to transform its desktop offerings into digital enterprise products, adding cloud capabilities to the updated solutions in the process.
This strategy has seen RPMGlobal’s mining software reach enterprise grade performance, meaning companies now have many ways in which to access and use its applications.
“The rollout of our cloud technology and solutions means operations are no longer confined to an individual application on the desktop. Instead, a cloud-enabled approach allows their businesses to be conducted remotely no matter where they or their people are physically located,” Mathews says.
At the same time, RPMGlobal has been aggressively seeking acquisitions, making nine purchases and thereby growing its portfolio to six different but integrated suites of products.
This sizeable investment in software development and growth through acquisitions, worth around $130 million, has placed RPMGlobal in the best position to reap first mover advantage in software as a service (SaaS) offerings where software is licensed on a subscription basis.
With the industry’s acceleration of cloud adoption, RPMGlobal products are not simply lifting and shifting a desktop product into a cloud-based data centre, but rather having applications and platforms that can speak natively with cloud applications and their environments.
“Mines are often located in difficult to reach, isolated places. In addition, COVID-19 has made many operations realise that they need technology to operate their applications and software systems remotely,” Mathews says.
“The big change I can see for the whole industry in the next 12 months is a greater investment in this area.
“All those investments over the last seven or eight years, where we didn’t necessarily aim to move this quickly to the cloud, were all useful, so we’re pretty happy with the way our company is going.”
Growth ambitions aimed at accelerating innovation
Alongside the company’s shift to cloud technology, RPMGlobal has strengthened its portfolio of products in 2020 with the recent acquisition of Canada-headquartered inventory optimisation management software company, IMAFS.
“You can’t optimise anything if you haven’t got the data,” Mathews says. “IMAFS, the company we agreed to acquire in October for example, has AI algorithms that can greatly improve a miners’ inventory management.
“What IMAFS does is take inventory data out of the corporate enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, and deduce the optimal timeframe for inventory orders, costs and order frequency in conjunction with our asset management system.
“IMAFS uses AI algorithms to work out how much stock a company needs because you don’t want zero or 20 identical parts sitting on the shelf.”
Integration has been a core philosophy for RPMGlobal from the start, and through the suites of RPMGlobal products, the company has built a capacity to help global operations extract more value where it counts.
RPMGlobal plans to continue acquiring future-forward technologies and taking on the challenge of having enough people at the company to implement its software.
This challenge, according to Mathews, is one that the company looks forward to taking on.
“We’ve opened or acquired five new offices in the last 18 months. We’re adding people and products. Our cloud-based team is getting bigger and bigger because we want to consolidate our first mover advantage,” he says.
“With a strong balance sheet, including $40 million in cash (at the time of writing), this is the time to use the strength of our balance sheet to invest in further development of our products and consider further potential acquisitions as they arise where they are the right strategic fit to deliver value for mining companies.”
This article also appears in the December edition of Australian Mining.