Globally, the mining and exploration industry is under pressure to reduce operational costs through innovation and efficiency.
Low commodity prices drive out some companies, but represent an opportunity for others to find efficiency gains creating sustained business improvements.
During low points in the cycle, innovative resources companies can position themselves for the next upturn by looking at their current processes and identifying new technology-driven efficiency gains.
Autonomous mining using smart systems independent of people is the next horizon in mining and exploration removing workers from dangerous situations and yielding long term cost savings.
Most operations have already seen the introduction of some level of automation, including breakthroughs like driverless truck systems. Connecting and automating systems removes the chance for human error and speeds up all processes.
While pockets of automation are becoming more common in industry globally, to realise the next step towards computer-driven mining, planning and collaboration between software vendors is vital.
To get to this next step the natural resources industry needs to look at their operations and systems as a whole, including creating an enterprise architecture to guide future growth.
The Open Group – helping create a connected IT landscape
To help lay the groundwork for the next breakthroughs in technology, acQuire participates in the Exploration, Mining, Metals and Minerals (EMMM™) Forum of The Open Group. It is part of the company’s mission to aid connectivity, collaboration and sharing of data.
The Open Group is a global consortium of over 500 members, spanning all sectors of the business community, enabling the achievement of business objectives through standards. The Open Group is vendor- and technology neutral, by enabling member companies to discuss industry-wide issues so solutions can be developed to resolve these. All aspects of the business, not just IT issues are discussed at the various meetings.
The Open Group vision is “Boundaryless Information Flow™ achieved through global interoperability in a secure, reliable and timely manner.”
The EMMM™ forum aims to achieve sustainable business value through collaboration around a common operating model. It aims to create common terminology to support technical and business solution delivery, as well as to be a knowledge management repository for industry best-practice processes, both suppliers and end-users can work from.
Challenges and costs around system interoperability from different vendors can prevent companies from investing in and maintaining connected systems that would ultimately benefit them. MS Excel is still seen as the ‘band aid’ between all these disparate systems.
Connected systems allow companies to build more mature processes for better identification of risk, reduction of operational costs, easier compliance with regulators and integration of business drivers into process.
acQuire, as a business systems supplier, invests time into EMMM™ Forum because it provides a common framework for communication. It helps the company focus development effort to provide the most value and allows collaboration with other members of the EMMM™ Forum, including Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, MineRP, Orbus, and PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
The EMMM forum is focused on building an enterprise architecture standard ensuring connectivity and optimal collaboration across the mining enterprise. It aims to underpin a properly integrated mining value chain, usable in any resources company.
Building a future proof framework for sustained progress
In a video interview, Peter McLure, CIO of Minerals and Metals Group Limited said enterprise architecture is vital so industry can work together.
“Enterprise architecture lays out a future state and makes a guide or template we are trying to build to,” McLure said in the video.
“Without an architecture, it’s hard to see we could do anything. Because otherwise we are going to do things that are discontinuous or not connected and we risk tripping over each other.”
“We are building tomorrow’s shanty town if we don’t have any town planning rules. Enterprise architecture provides those town planning rules for us to align with and all the work we are doing, potentially across many years and sites, towards some common end.”
One hindrance seen in many companies are the complex and disconnected systems inherited from the people who worked on them before. Building links between disconnected systems that weren’t designed to work together is complex and expensive.
Roy Irvine, Natural Resources Lead in the EMMM™ Forum, says building connected systems helps mitigate risk posed by vital site knowledge living in the heads of individual workers.
“Many of the processes used in exploration and mining were developed from the time the industry was a closed shop, with the knowledge being transferred by employees spending decades within one company. With the retrenchment or retirement of many of these employees in recent years, much of this knowledge has now been lost, with the result that costly process errors are being made unnecessarily,” Irvine said.
“Enterprise Architecture can assist companies to capture the knowledge and then to see how the processes can be improved using both new and often forgotten technologies”.
acQuire’s focus is to provide a solution to efficiently manage your geoscientific data, at scale, across an entire enterprise.
Our global technology partner network provides connectivity with 3rd party technology vendors ensuring our customers can optimise their decision making across the mining value chain.
Carla Bell, Real IRM Solutions, 011 805 3734, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Open Group South Africa, email@example.com