In this article, we feature an editorial contribution provided by MineWare CEO Andrew Jessett
Driving sustainable performance, one load at a time
by Andrew Jessett*
In today’s competitive mining market, how do mining companies manage real and sustainable performance improvement over time and how do they measure it?
Despite a renewed focus on improving the mining sector’s productivity, delivering sustainable performance improvement over time still remains a challenge for many mine sites. With instability in mining commodity prices and rising concerns over resource scarcity, mining companies continue to feel the pressure to cut costs and raise productivity.
In a June 2018 report, McKinsey suggested three key focus areas for mining businesses at this critical time. The mining sector is changing faster than ever, with technology now a key strategic priority and enabler for productivity and sustainable growth.
The authors propose mining organisations need to:
- Embed effective management operating systems at mines, which will make performance more transparent and help identify areas for improvement
- Make a priority of cost reduction and throughput improvement
- Focus on innovative approaches to help in the productivity battle, and most notably, take advantage of what digitisation can offer.
The message from experts remains the same: mining companies have to ensure that they extract each ton at the best possible cost.
Mining companies and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are shaping the design of a more interconnected, digital mine by leveraging advances in technology and artificial intelligence (AI).
However, there is still a plethora of data being collected on mine sites that remains untapped. The sector has only just begun to consider how to use these troves of information to improve their productivity and overall strategy, Deloitte’s 2019 Tracking the Trends report has found.
MineWare CEO Andrew Jessett believes the ability to organise, manage and measure mining data is key to driving sustainable performance in the future.
“Better data management is giving mining operations a real competitive edge,” he said. Using data smartly can improve productivity, reduce mining costs, and enhance employee performance and well-being. “Those companies getting it right are rapidly seeing the benefits of digitisation,” Jessett says.
“It’s about connecting multiple systems, processes and people together to deliver sustainable, step-change improvement – one load at a time.”
Technology return on investment
Jessett said MineWare’s systems deliver a measurable productivity ROI for loading equipment such as draglines, electric shovels and hydraulic excavators.
“The results Argus and Pegasys deliver in the field speak for themselves. We typically see a measurable productivity payback within six months.”
“Beyond this, our customers see a sustained performance in the long haul as well. Our engineers and field support experts work on the ground to help mining operations sustain and continually build on that level of improvement over time.”
A holistic approach
A comprehensive understanding of mining processes is integral to avoiding the discontinuities that could arise from disconnected operations. Digitisation can help break down silos and provide greater end-to-end visibility across the supply chain. Jessett says this more holistic approach improves decision making, machine reliability as well as people and process efficiency.
“MineWare’s holistic approach supports productivity improvement across the entire value chain, integrating operating systems and sharing knowledge between departments to break down the silos,” he said. “We’re closing the feedback loop on upstream and downstream mining processes. And in doing so, our clients are seeing the very real benefits of system integration and collaboration. “What this means is that we’re giving mining personnel – from operators to engineers and planners – immediate access to important actionable information in real-time.
Having critical payload and performance data available drives greater operational efficiencies and smarter decision making.”
Long term technology partnerships
Jessett said strong partnerships between mining equipment and technology service providers and mining companies is another imperative for sustainable performance improvement.
While technology is advancing and MineWare prides itself on being on top of technological changes, Jessett emphasises the importance of bringing customers along on the journey. “A true partnership approach is essential, working closely with everyone on-site – from the operators on board, site supervisors, maintenance personnel and mine planners all the way up to the boardroom.”
“Our customers want to innovate and future-proof their mining operations. We support them on their digitisation journey, with interoperable monitoring technology solutions that can drive sustainable improvements to their operations and bottom line. “From benchmarking operator performance to the optimising payload, it’s about measuring what’s happening on board and in the pit, and applying those insights to deliver continuous improvement – in real-time and for long term improvement.
Sustainable performance improvement in action, Western Australia Commencing on a trial basis at a hard rock mine in Western Australia in 2015, MineWare’s Argus Shovel Monitor has now been in operation for over four years.
The Argus trial and change management project delivered against the following three key performance criteria:
To increase the average system payload by five tonnes
To achieve system accuracy within ± three per cent
To ensure zero increase in the number of overloads (tip-offs).
Through effective training, implementation and management, including operator workshops, in-cab coaching and live performance monitoring, the new technology received strong support and acceptance.
The team also benefited from MineWare’s 24/7 service and support through its Integrated Support Centre (ISC). Each of the above criteria was met or exceeded. The intuitive display of the Argus system was particularly well received by the team on site. In the cab, operators had control over what data was displayed and how empowering them to use this real-time information to make the most efficient decisions.
Argus System: Operator View[/caption]
In-cab Following the success of the trial which increased the average payload significantly reduced payload variability and ensured no overloads or underloads, the technology has remained in place and continues to deliver results for the Western Australian mine site. The Argus system is proven to boost shovel productivity between three to 16 per cent while lowering the cost per ton moved.
“Time after time our customers have demonstrated that once the Argus system is adopted their improvement is consistent and sustainable.”