Viva Aveva: Notes on a digital future

A famous poet once said the revolution wouldn’t be televised, but it looked increasingly like it might be digitalised.

Software company Aveva demonstrated its approach to the digital transformation of mining at the International Mining and Resource Conference (IMARC).

Aveva combined with Schneider Electric’s industrial software business in March to form a company capable of delivering complete end-to-end digital solutions across myriad industrial sectors, including mining.

Boasting over two million software licences across 100,000 sites in 130 countries, Aveva is responsible for 4.4 trillion daily industrial transactions and 12 petabytes of annual data collation.

In the mining space, Aveva brings its expertise in advanced process controls to both greenfield and brownfield mine sites and process plants, leading to better throughput, time saving and safety improvements.

Aveva helps amplify the benefits of digital transformation across several categories, including engineering and design, product optimisation, value chain optimisation, asset performance management, and workforce transformation.

A common theme relates to data collection, analysis and decision support. Improved site visibility across operations helps improve operational excellence. Asset performance management solutions help reduce unplanned downtime while enabling safety benefits from predictive maintenance models. Increasing mobilisation of the mining workforce has been shown to ease workforce transformation.

According to World Economic Forum statistics, digitalisation is expected to create around $320 billion of value for mining by 2025.

Aveva has proved its muster in the digital arena in collaboration with Roy Hill on the development of its remote operations centre (ROC) in Perth.

From a single centralised control room the company established end-to-end visibility across company’s pit-to-port value chain.

“To manage all this [Roy Hill] built an ROC in Perth some 1300km away from the mine site,” Aveva business consulting executive – mining, minerals & metals John MacDonald says.

“The demand chain flows from right to left through the operations centre and depending on how far back from the front [a worker is] represents the time, so the guys controlling the plant are sitting at the front and you’ve got your business improvement people sitting at the back.The entire team is in that one operations centre.”

MacDonald says one way to optimise mine production is by identifying site bottlenecks to allow equipment to run at maximum sustainable rates, a process that is achieved with digital data analysis.

“Once we’ve got that stabilisation in place, we can look at pushing those boundaries,” MacDonald says, “with things like advanced process control.

“You can start to push against your limits in the process, increasing production and minimising energy to make actual financial decisions about how you are going to run your plant. We’re using smart algorithms to understand patterns within the way your assets are running so we can give those warning signs about when things are grading and whether we need to fix them immediately.”

MMG has also benefited from Aveva’s systems with the integration of the Ampla operations management software.

The system has allowed MMG to standardise its asset solutions process across its global operations (five mines in four continents), leading to capacity improvements between 10-20 per cent at the mines.

MMG’s Kinsevere copper mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo reported operations at 34 per cent above nameplate capacity following the switch.

The visualisation of the data is just as important as collecting the data.

Aveva business consultant executive, digital transformation Javier Orellana, co-speaker at IMARC, says technologies such as augmented reality (AR), mobile devices and simulators are ways to disseminate the data among the workforce, which increasingly comprises Millennial and Generation Z cohorts, the so-called ‘digital natives’.

“Augmented reality can really deliver competency-based and deep learning to our people to be able to give them new scenario-based training and learning so that they can actually undertake these functions,” explains Orellana.

“Another component of that is the combination of augmentation and simulation, which is around capturing knowledge.

“We’ve got to embed that information within systems such as model-based training or dynamic and steady states and integrate that information to deliver a holistic approach around learning management.”

This article also appears in the December edition of Australian Mining.

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