Unlocking efficient and productive growth in mining

Salesforce can assist mining companies across five core areas.

Salesforce can assist mining companies across five core areas: value pricing, operational efficiency, partner/supplier relationships, safety and employee experience, and data integration and analytics.

In 1999, a milestone customer relationship management (CRM) system was launched, which would see all of a customer’s software and critical customer data, hosted on the internet and made available as a subscription service.

Salesforce pioneered the ‘software as a service’ model that quickly spread across the technology industry.

From the start, Salesforce has sought to change the world for the better through technology that builds stronger relationships between companies and customers, employees and far-flung teams, governments and citizens, and between people who want to make a difference.

Recently, Salesforce conducted a webinar alongside Austmine, the leading not-for-profit industry association for the Australian mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector.

The webinar was focussed on exploring and unlocking efficient and productive growth in mining at a rapid pace.

The mining industry has been collecting and storing process data for a long time, but are now focusing on leveraging this data to drive business insight.

Digitalisation and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is enabling mining companies to extract more contextualised information across their business and operation, breaking down silos through the integration of systems and collaborations between business units and their teams.

This approach, sometimes referred to as digital transformation, is empowering companies to take full advantage of powerful data analysis tools and techniques.

Descriptive, predictive and prescriptive analytics are now common terms used by the industry and the application of these methods is delivering tangible value back to mining companies.

Salesforce senior vice president and strategic advisor in the office of the chief executive officer, Craig Walker, said Salesforce is a fundamental tool to transform the downstream and upstream businesses.

Walker joined Salesforce from Shell where he had 32 years of oil and gas experience with key assignments in all regions, in both the upstream and downstream of the business. As a Global chief information officer (CIO) of one of Salesforce’s largest customers, he has a deep understanding of the challenges that face a modern CIO. At Shell, he was responsible for the Salesforce executive relationship.

Salesforce senior vice president and strategic advisor in the office of the chief executive officer Craig Walker.

Walker said there were considerable similarities between mining and the oil and gas industry.

“It’s heavily driven by being as productive as you can and managing the production based on what is going on in the economic situation in the world,” he said.

“So having your right trading department, having that information linked back through the supply chain, understanding what your production is, asset uptime, preventive maintenance, safety and environment are all incredibly important in this upstream mining world.

“But of course, we all know that however well we work on those we only need a shift in the commodity prices and we’re in trouble.”

Walker said during his time at Shell, Salesforce was a fundamental tool to really transform the downstream and upstream businesses.

“I think it was quite a journey that we went on, and I think a lot of people when they first think about Salesforce they think about customer because it’s called Salesforce,” he said.

“If you replace the word customer with employee, or with engineer, with asset manager, with supplier, with third-party logistics company, whatever it might be, you can build that single view of that entity and then link the rest of the data with it.

“One large project we did, which actually went live just after I left, was to deliver that single view of the customer, it was called Shell Sphere. We were talking about a scope here of over 100 countries, $30 billion in spend, 30,000 suppliers and all of that data was siloed.

“We wanted to really improve the performance by actually having proper data that we understood. This was about real data shared day-in, day-out between ourselves and the third parties.”

Miners have recognised that there is a tremendous opportunity to increase operational efficiency, reduce costs, and improve safety with data analysis if their teams can access it, understand it, and apply it to real-world situations.

Salesforce Service Cloud account executive James Thompson said using cloud-based platforms, the company can enable real-time decisions across assets and increase the exploration and geology analytics for development and maintenance for digital twin.

“We can give you an end-to-end view of how your planning, design, construction and maintenance was digitally enabling maintenance operations and give you the real-time field force management,” he said.

“Within the extraction process, our solutions can offer IoT-based platforms using sensors and image data for central monitoring and control, intelligent dispatching and digital drill and blast.

“We can assist with automation at a scale large scale for processing, giving you energy and performance optimisation, inventory optimisation, digital procurement and real-time logistics management can help improve your supply chain logistics.

“With support functions, Salesforce can fully automate the back office, giving you planning and pricing analytics while digitising the control tower.”

Salesforce principal solution consultant Ron Shpilman said by using the company’s system, it is able to connect mining operators and planners with vendors, suppliers and the project team.

The company can also use Salesforce AI and automation to improve safety, as well as productivity and efficiency.

“As part of our mining operations, we need to plan and execute essential maintenance and repair projects. We have thousands of data points already that are currently managing spreadsheets and other documents,” Shpilman said.

“What used to take hours of work is now a matter of minutes. I can now review and amend shifts, publish them to my supplier coordinator and at the right time send them to my engineers on their mobile app, perfectly avoiding the email clutter and phone calls and confusion.”

Thompson said Salesforce is able to assist mining companies across five core areas: value pricing, operational efficiency, partner/supplier relationships, safety and employee experience, and data integration and analytics.

Value pricing will achieve real-time end-to-end visibility on production costs to optimise commercial strategy, while operational efficiency will digitally coordinate support field interventions, transform maintenance using IoT and predictive analytics, as well as drive productivity through better collaboration.

Salesforce can also decrease procurement and logistics costs through collaboration with suppliers and logistics partners, while it can also automate and digitise supplier/partner payment cycles.

In terms of safety and employee experience, Salesforce can increase employee safety and adapt workforce to the new normal, coordinate a mining company’s workers and contractors with an optimal match of skills and tasks, and also drive sustainability goals with initiative measurement and increased engagement.

With the large amounts of data available to miners, Salesforce can break down silos of data and uncover insights through efficient data visualization, such as interactive and cascading dashboards.

“We empower people to unlock the industry to its full potential,” Thompson said.

“With our technology we look to pivot to a people-centric model, which will help engage and improve employee and contractor experiences.

“Salesforce can manage and extract value from the supply base, building trust and efficiently managing partners along with other external stakeholders, whilst training and upskilling your workforce while, most importantly, keeping safety at the core of everything we do.”

Salesforce will host a webinar this month featuring Antonio Sciuto, global business development officer at Salesforce, which is open to Austmine members and non-members.

Sciuto will talk about digital innovation in the mining industry and how Salesforce can help mining companies navigate a digital transformation.

This feature was featured in the May issue of Australian Mining.

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