The mining industry comes with its fair share of challenges; from scarce resources to uncertainty around commodity prices, miners are always looking at ways to overcome barriers to stay competitive.
Mining businesses are therefore changing their approaches to be able to manage their mineral assets in an efficient and cost-effective manner. They’re doing this by implementing new business and operational models that has incorporate new technologies for a more interconnected, information-based operation, and are undertaking this on a more rapid and global basis than ever before.
Digital transformation has opened new ways to improve operating efficiency by developing more accurate sprints for planning, hyper-aware vendors and collaboration with business partners throughout the value chain.
The move to a more digital-focused operation in the mining industry is certainly a tall order. However, the mining industry is at the epicentre of this digital transformation, which is very real and can drive considerable and competitive advantage within the industry.
INNOVATE TO MAINTAIN AN ADVANTAGE
Mining companies can’t rely on ageing systems to support their business activities of the future. To remain competitive, mines need to create new operating and business models and foster a digital culture where real-time data of employees, assets and business performance is not only readily available but can be used to make changes in real-time from anywhere in the world.
For mining companies, competitive differentiation is about using technology to change the physical reality of managing mining operations by improving, streamlining and simplifying work practices, roles, and processes that are core to mining operations, and contributing to a step change improvement in productivity.
Understanding the implementation of digital solutions requires an appropriate technology environment and a prepared technology organisation to drive these solutions, while ensuring buy-in across all levels of the organisation.
The inherent value of digital transformation comes from the way it enables mining businesses to embrace new and innovative ideas that can drive continual improvement, while improving efficiencies, safety metrics and real bottom line results.
Across the entire mining value chain, every worker must adapt to the new technologies and processes that continue to be introduced. They should be prepared to improve their literacy in digital solutions and be able to work harmoniously with their new colleagues, whether it be with robots or data scientists.
A lot of these solutions tend to scare long-time mining executives away because of cost concerns. Luckily, the growing number of technologies and their established presence across many industries greatly reduces the cost.
Digitalization is also the enabler of several benefits in mining operations, primary amongst them being safety of the operator. Transformation for mining productivity include:
- The automation of material management
- Asset management and maintenance
- Pre-emptive and predictive performance monitoring
The future of mining is to create the capability to manage mining operations through the integration of processes and procedures with the introduction of new technologies to command, control and respond predictively. Some of the more tangible benefits that can come from this approach include:
- Effective consolidation of an increasing amount of data to drive real-time and insight-based decision making and continuous optimisation
- Unprecedented possibility of autonomous operations, remote control of assets, tracking of equipment and people
- Increased collaboration and knowledge sharing among operations teams within the organisation
- More flexible and responsive delivery of solutions to new business demands
For example, by looking at data related to communication between mining machines, as well as output of various steps in the mining process, companies can gain meaningful insights that guide future projects and job sites.
Technology has a vital role to play in the development and application of new mining methods, which will improve both safety and health, and operational effectiveness in our mines.
HOW TO EMBRACE A NEW WAY OF WORKING
Digital transformation has the potential to be the determinant factor for increasing productivity. Organisations that can establish coordination at executive level will be prepared to implement effective digital transformation programs.
The possibilities for new operating models and new levels of optimisation will create the next wave of differentiation in the industry. This new way of working can include:
- A digital agenda driven by the CEO
According to a report by PwC and the South African Minerals Council, digital transformation initiatives in South African mining businesses are primarily driven by the CEO. This top-down approach kickstarts the process, providing the impetus and communication needed to keep it going.
- Nurturing champions and innovators
Digital champions and innovators would be willing to pilot new technologies without waiting for others to prove it first. They would also find new value by sharing information and working collaboratively between business functions.
- Engagement and strategic framing of the digital transformation through leadership engagement, guidance into actionable plans, benefit analysis, valuation, and preferred future states.
- Integrating people, systems, and processes to capture the value of increasing amounts of data and information coming from the different business units or operations.
- Expanding employee skillsets
Mining leaders believe there would be a change in the nature of the workforce over the next five years to “more skilled employees,” leading to an increase in productivity. Some have already started to invest in skills uplift to unlock the benefits of digital transformation.
THE RENOIR ADVANTAGE
When it comes to digital transformation, we help clients by ensuring organisation readiness, selection of the appropriate solutions and adoption of the solutions through our change management methodology.
Rather than being a solution provider, we focus instead on identifying the processes as well as the behaviour change needed to drive sustainable change management. It’s about collecting data and turning it into information that can be used to drive better decision making.
We help companies understand what their business needs truly are, what digital solutions can help them fulfil those needs, and ensuring those solutions are implemented, adopted, and sustained over time. You can talk to one of our consultants today to see how our solutions and expertise can help your organisation address your unique challenges efficiently and sustainably.