Technology

Optimising mining operations with Appian

Appian is a specialist when it comes to unifying data and optimising critical business processes – a valuable service for an often-siloed mining industry.

Mining companies face a raft of challenges across their business and operations, including heightened environmental, social and governance (ESG) obligations, supply chain disruptions, skills shortages, and capital management. 

Managing these challenges alone can be difficult, so managing them simultaneously can be next to impossible.

But that’s where enterprise process automation software company Appian can help.

Appian helps its customers implement automation to simplify their business processes, improving the efficiency, accuracy and scalability of critical, often-siloed workstreams.

This enables the unification of a mining business – helping to ensure it has the greatest potential to be profitable and create a strong platform for future growth.

“Regarding the unification of data, people and processes, we see a massive gap in the market,” Appian account director Justin Grose told Australian Mining. “The Appian Data Fabric capability solves this challenge through an integrated data layer that connects systems in real-time.

“Best-of-breed systems work really well for what they’re meant to do. However, what they don’t do well is unite data across a multitude of systems within an enterprise which, from a service offering perspective, is Appian’s strength.

“Mining and metals companies are facing changes in legislation from an ESG and governance, risk and compliance reporting point of view, which obviously flows through to the chief executive officer and board level. Miners have also faced challenges and undergone significant changes to supply chain dynamics post-COVID.”

Appian account director Justin Grose.
Image: Appian

Mining companies are currently faced with a multitude of pain points, many of which are exacerbated by disseminated, siloed data and not having real-time access to all available information.

“In recent years, there’s been exponential advances in technology that frees up humans to do more important work than the data crunching and analysis that has previously been necessary for reporting and operational processes,” Grose said.

“It can take organisations four weeks to collate data from a number of different sources for a financial month-end. Wouldn’t it be a game-changer if you could simply run a report in real-time, everything was linked, and you could collate the data in minutes or even seconds?

“Appian can help mining companies generate these real-time insights.”

Grose said such an offering ensures miners aren’t constantly operating in a lag situation with their reporting, and therefore have greater oversight and control of how their operations are performing at any given time.

This type of solution can also automate processes across a mining business to improve workflows and optimise operations. Appian does this through a low-code, AI-powered process automation platform.

“The Appian AI Process Platform enables companies to design, automate and optimise their processes,” Grose said.

“The platform provides critical components required for automation such as AI, robotic process automation (RPA), process mining and business rules to name a few. We’re also a leader in case management and workflow.”

Appian will actively work with a mining company to understand its specific use cases to provide a purpose-built automation solution through its low-code platform.

“We can design and configure a specific application within weeks (under an Appian guarantee) to automate an individual process, or we can connect best-of-breed systems and orchestrate them across the organisation,” Grose said. “We are exceptionally good at connecting data, removing silos and providing the full automation capability for companies to optimise their business.”

Appian has the ability to co-exist with and enhance existing software and data systems, which means mining companies aren’t required to exit or retire current systems or infrastructure.

Alongside its abilities in the mining sector, Appian has supported major energy providers and producers on their automation journeys.

A global oil and gas producer previously used cumbersome manual and paper processes to keep track of its data, which slowed efforts to streamline operations. The company was losing ground to competitors and required an immediate overhaul of its processes.

The Appian AI Process Platform enabled this oil and gas producer to shorten cycle times, lower costs throughout the lifecycle, and introduce flexibility across its production landscape.

“Appian helped turn my business unit from a cost centre into a revenue centre,” a business optimisation lead from the global energy producer said.

“Not only was there a 200 per cent return on investment, we were able to meet very aggressive timelines and still deliver more business functions than originally identified in the projects.”

Another Appian customer, BAI Communications, maintains and operates terrestrial radio and television services for networks such as the ABC and SBS. The company also facilitates communication for industries such as emergency services, transport and energy. When BAI was seeking a solution to track and keep maintenance staff safe across its 741 sites in Australia, Appian proved the perfect partner.

Prior to working with Appian, BAI conducted health and safety onboarding manually, which was cumbersome and erroneous. It also had difficulty in determining whether personnel who performed high-risk work met site access requirements.

By upgrading its site access processes with the help of Appian, BAI has established a platform for contractors to register, pre-qualify, be approved for, and attend site to carry out work.

BAI now has about 10,000 users registered to its site access management mobile application, enabling the company to actively and reliably manage external and internal personnel.

Despite the complexity of unifying expansive company databases, Appian is always mindful of the need for simplicity.

“Rather than undertaking a traditional ‘big bang’ approach to transformation or automation, we believe the best approach is to address complexity, start small and deliver value quickly,” Grose said.

“We can first prove the value of an Appian solution or offering, and then seek to make enhancements or add additional functionality in a modular fashion, resulting in a solution that will add value across the entire business.

“We find this collaborative and agile approach more effective than coming in and stating, ‘We’re going to produce an application that’s going to automate your entire business, but it’s going to take multiple years to do it’.”

Any digital transformation is a staged process, and Appian has not only the holistic know-how to deliver a fully integrated digital solution but also the ability to quickly combat and address pressing data issues.

“It’s something that our clients and prospects openly welcome and love to hear, but it’s actually true: Appian aims to do more with less,” Grose said.

“We can help organisations transform their digital infrastructure, whether it’s connecting data across the enterprise or supporting an individual business unit, and we can provide organisations with the complete platform and automation capability that meets both today’s and tomorrow’s requirements.”

To learn more about Appian’s offerings for the mining sector, click here.

This feature appeared in the April 2024 issue of Australian Mining.

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