Introducing and succeeding with new mining technologies requires mining firms to overcome far more barriers than most industries have to face.
Mining businesses must deal with a raft of challenges, such as far flung sites in extreme environments where connectivity is less than reliable at best. These factors make digital transformation much more difficult. Nevertheless, the opportunities presented by the digital transformation of mining technologies are too big to miss.
And the firms that develop a bold strategy to take advantage of the capabilities offered by the cloud, mobile, big data and analytics will reap dividends in the long term.
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Mining Technologies Must be Digitally Transformed
Digital transformation means very different things for different companies and industries.
In healthcare, a provider might choose to digitally transform by providing patients with health monitoring devices, while in the insurance trade digital transformation might involve using Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to monitor properties.
And in mining, digital transformation will manifest itself in very specific ways, too. The potential for digitally transforming mining technologies is enormous.
There are countless ways that new technologies could be deployed to help mining companies boost efficiency, accelerate processes and create value:
- Mobile connectivity: If personnel managing remote pits can instantly access project plans and report on progress from a smartphone or tablet, the potential for improved productivity and boosted efficiency is enormous.
- IoT and data automation: in certain scenarios, mining companies will be able to deploy low-cost connected sensors that are able to track various factors, such as water pressure. The information these sensors collect can be used to trigger workflows, warning managers of potential dangers.
- Connecting mining technologies to the cloud: the software mining companies use is normally disjointed and information is held in disparate silos. The cloud offers a huge potential for firms to connect all their different systems and the information held in them.
- Data-driven decisions about electricity: electricity is one of the biggest costs for mining businesses, and so using automated processes to monitor electricity usage can help managers make decisions about how to reduce waste.
There are many more ways in which mining technologies can digitally transform, and the potential for improvement that digital technologies offer miners is enormous.
But where should you begin?
Three Key Ingredients for Digitally Transforming Mining Technologies
Digital transformation is a continual process; there is no final ‘state’ of being digitally transformed. Rather, it is about technology leaders in the organization driving forward constant strategic technology improvement and spotting opportunities for ways of boosting efficiency.
To begin your journey, you need the following three key ‘ingredients’:
1. A vision
The most successful digital transformations happen when there is a clearly articulated vision which is actionable and which employees understand across the board.
A vision needs some detail—it needs to say where you want to be and show the kinds of processes and activities you want to automate and accelerate. The vision needs to explain what you want to achieve and why: which technologies you want to use, what processes to accelerate and KPIs you will measure to assess progress.
2. A plan
Digitally transforming your existing mining technologies will require a strategic plan. Remember also that digital transformation entails a lot of change—so your plan needs to take into account how you will educate employees about your new approach.
3. A multi-disciplinary team
Ensuring success with digital transformation should not be a purely top-down process. Foremen on the ground may resent what they perceive as far-off white collar managers imposing new technologies without having a say in what is needed.
Ensure that your project delivery team includes employees from across the business who can provide extremely valuable insights into how digital technology could be deployed to improve safety, boost productivity and help workers get more done.
A New Era for Mining Technologies
It has traditionally been challenging for mining companies to really extract value from digital technology – especially away from office-based work. But improvements in connectivity and computing mean miners can now access project plans and automate manual processes using some of the most cutting-edge technology available today.