Mining’s digital ‘sweet spot’

As mining companies face increased pressure to optimise operations, industrial software company AVEVA is perfectly placed to provide the next wave of innovative solutions.

The next leap in productivity at mine sites is set to stem from advances in the dynamic technology market, as operators figure out new ways to optimise output from assets.

While mining companies are already beginning to introduce a broad range of innovative solutions to maximise productivity, reduce costs, and improve safety, including artificial intelligence (AI), mixed reality (XR) and the Internet of Things (IoT), there is a race of sorts in the tech industry to constantly provide the next advancement.

AVEVA, which has built a strong reputation in the mining industry with its software platforms, is leading the way in providing digital technology that spans companies’ global portfolio across operations and asset lifecycles.

Its solutions unify data from first engineering designs to operations, analysing and managing engineering information, processes and supply chain, so that companies can maximise productivity, reduce downtime using predictive analytics, and bring new projects online faster and more cheaply.

Against the backdrop of global uncertainty and a volatile commodity market, AVEVA is in a “sweet spot” as mining companies become increasingly demanding for innovation in digital technology, according to head of Pacific Zone, Damien McDade.

“At AVEVA, we encompass industrial Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, alternative realities and virtual reality all together within a unified operational lifecycle platform that can help companies maximise profitability, minimise risk and enhance automation and control,” McDade explains.

“You only have to look at a world-leading mining company like Roy Hill, based in Perth. They have embraced AVEVA’s solutions to create a remote operating centre that spans the entire mining value chain. 

“Not only does this enable their team to optimise their efficiency from pit to port, but it also dovetails perfectly with their global supply chain, ensuring that they can pinpoint revenue opportunities before they arise, and scale their operations to fit. This innovative approach is adapted from a concept first developed in the oil and gas industry, but it’s a flexible model which all mining operators can benefit from.

“This is our sweet spot and opportunity. Typically, across the board, the mining industry is trying to squeeze more out of assets and empowering its workforce through digitisation. This is where we come into play. 

“Our technology can help companies increase operational efficiency and give their teams better data on which to base their day-to-day and strategic decision making. Those two things together can transform return on investment and sharpen operational focus.”

McDade and the team will be at AVEVA’s World Conference in Brisbane (at Howard Smith Wharves) on November 19-20.

With leading practitioners from around the globe and subject matter experts as speakers, the AVEVA team will offer Australian users a snapshot of the technology future, showing customers and industry peers what the company is working on. 

Some of the company’s top partners will also be able to showcase their capabilities, including Stratus Technologies and Callisto.

“We believe we have some of the best industrial software and we want people to see the very latest, relevant content,” McDade says.

Much of the discussion will revolve around digital engineering, operations centres, asset predictivity, and cloud operations, which is the next leap in information storage and analytics.

While cloud-based analytics are available today, mining companies are only using it for what McDade describes as “non-critical infrastructure”, to be put simply – information that, if lost, wouldn’t be catastrophic.

The big question AVEVA challenges the mining industry with is “are you truly ready for cloud?

Embracing the full potential of cloud-based operations will require a reorganisation of how many traditional mining companies operate, but AVEVA has numerous concrete examples of the benefits this can bring, including at Roy Hill’s base in Perth.

AVEVA will also showcase its hybrid model, which allows mining companies to take non-critical performance information to the cloud and leave critical infrastructure on its current systems.

This progression is just one of the company’s bold plans for how digital technology can benefit Australian mining companies. These are available today, capitalising on Australia’s track record of leading the way in innovative technology, according to McDade.

“It comes down to what it takes to make a business stand up in Australia in terms of cost of doing business – other countries would argue that the competitive cost base we have here is due to technology, which Australian companies are often the first to introduce,” McDade says.

While AVEVA works across a range of industries, mining accounts for a significant proportion of business, which justifies its recent announcement that Brisbane will be the new base for its Pacific region headquarters.

The city offers a central location and is described by McDade as an emerging “tech hub”, making the decision a logical one.

From its Brisbane base, AVEVA intends to ramp up a focus that spans across a broad range of mining and other industrial companies’ operations, such as value chain optimisation, which allows for visibility across the entire value chain, from planning to scheduling to inventory.

Optimisation also extends to mining companies’ production data, which AVEVA turns into insights with downtime analysis, delay accounting and process optimisation.

Critical to companies maximising productivity is also the management of asset performance, with AVEVA offering tools that predict potential equipment failures so they can be planned for and averted, alongside digitising operating  procedures and maintenance activities as part of a holistic approach to engineering, operations and maintenance, all based on unified, accurate and up-to-the minute data.

This provides a glimpse into the potential offered by digital mining at a time where companies are under increasing pressure to maximise productivity amidst volatile market conditions.

AVEVA is in the perfect position to capitalise on Australia’s dynamic mining market, with the nation’s reputation as the epicentre of resources technology only continuing to grow.

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

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