Paul Moynagh

Commit Works CEO out in the cold for charity for the 2nd year

On Thursday the 20th of June 2019, leaders in business, community and government will sleep without shelter on one of the longest nights of the year to help change the lives of Australians experiencing homelessness through St Vincent de Pauls CEO Sleepout event.

Our CEO Paul Moynagh took part in the event last year, where a record 6.9 million dollars was raised to help break the cycle of homelessness and poverty in Australia. That’s: 1,949,673 individual support programs, 689,819 beds and 1,590,554 meals!

This year Paul is hoping to raise $5000 in an aim to beat Australian homelessness – because everyone deserves a safe place to call home.

 Want to donate?

You can sponsor Paul on his night out in the cold via his Vinnies CEO Sleepout fundraising page – he’s aiming to raise $5000.

You are also welcome to sponsor other CEOs, teams or the event itself.

If you’re a business or community leader who’d like to take part, or if you fancy nominating your boss to sleep outside for a night, you can also register yourself or nominate a CEO.

Commitment to community: our contribution to South Africa’s Sithabile Child and Youth Care Centre

Having recently established offices in South Africa, Commit Works is also dedicated to improving the lives of disadvantaged locals in the area.

We are honoured to support Sithabile Child and Youth Care Centre in Benoni near Johannesburg. The drop-in facility is a safe harbour for children who have suffered abuse, exploitation and neglect, providing them with food, rehabilitation, care and educational opportunities. It cares for around 80 children from the farms, informal settlements and streets of Eastern Gauteng in South Africa.

“As an Australian company working in South Africa, we have a wonderful opportunity to connect with and contribute to the community there,” said Commit Works CEO Paul Moynagh, whose daughter Abbey recently spent two weeks volunteering at Sithabile. “It means a lot to us to be able to support an organisation that is doing such vital work, and our involvement also helps us to learn about South African life and culture.”

Run by a husband-and-wife team, Sithabile was established in 1994 to rehabilitate and educate children from the farms in the area. Until 1997, it operated as a daycare centre but it has since expanded into a home where children are supported and loved, as well as provided with meals, shelter and an education.

One of the primary functions of the facility is to provide a balanced diet to the children in its care in order to counter the effects of malnutrition. A vegetable garden, chickens and other farm animals help educate the children on how to grow their own food, as well as providing fresh eggs and vegetables for their meals.

Sithabile is a nonprofit, non-governmental organisation that depends solely on donations and sponsorships. They appreciate any offer of help – visit their website for details on how to donate.

 

Scheduling tech and short interval control provide a high return on investment, says mining industry report

A high-profile report on technology in the mining sector has identified optimised scheduling and short interval control as two of the best investments for mining companies who are committed to digital transformation.

According to McKinsey & Company’s 2018 report, Behind the mining productivity upswing: Technology-enabled transformation, mining is already reaping the benefits of technological change, and mining productivity is on the rise.

The report stresses, however, that technology needs to be part of a holistic approach to transformation that extends across every facet of a mining organisation. Companies who invest in tech without a broad, organisation-wide strategy may not see the improvements they’ve been hoping for.

“There is no technological silver bullet that companies can buy to achieve their goals,” it states. Instead, transformation depends on the success of three interdependent engines, described below:

1. Harnessing tech

Harnessing digital, analytics and automation technology across an organisation can support productivity, safety, customer satisfaction, and supply chain management.

New technologies are already helping mining companies in many ways, including:

  • Improving throughput and recovery by using data and advanced analytics to inform decisions and improve processes.
  • Optimising maintenance, so it’s performed when needed rather than on a fixed schedule, thanks to sensors and machine learning. Phone- or tablet-based systems also help by giving maintenance workers the info they need while they’re on the job.
  • Reducing operating costs – especially through the use of robotics and autonomous machines.
  • Boosting productivity by coordinating activities. In underground mining, where this has always been a challenge, WiFi or 5G wireless tech on mobile devices allows supervisors to communicate with work teams in real time and adapt plans using short interval control to suit conditions.

2. Adapting management systems

A mining company implementing new technologies also needs to modify the ways in which its employees operate “to embed the new tools and insights into their daily workflow”.

Sometimes the organisational structure may need to change too. Traditional siloed teams typically lead to “slow and inferior decision making. Each team sees only its part of the whole, and when problems arise (as they always do), it works against collaborative and cooperative thinking and action. Most importantly, teams that work in silos know only what they know; they are isolated from the data that drives innovation”.

3. Overhauling culture and capabilities

Breaking ingrained habits is the third part of the puzzle; mining companies need to manage a change in mindset, behaviours and capabilities, formally and through modelling by managers. They will also need to train, retrain and upskill employees, and hire others to fill new roles as technologies are harnessed.

The role of better scheduling and control

The report lists optimised scheduling and control as “a use case that will provide a high return on investment” for companies embarking on tech-enabled transformation.

Commit Works’ Fewzion and short interval control systems are tech solutions that act across all of McKinsey and Company’s “three engines for change”:

  1. They harness mobile technology and analytics to support productivity, transparency, safety and decision-making.
  2. They modify the way that employees work together by giving teams access to a single plan in real time and enabling progress to be tracked – breaking down silos, allowing plans to be adjusted as necessary and making people accountable for the work they do.
  3. They change the behaviours and mindsets of teams and supervisors, through a system based on commitment, trust and accountability.

Commenting on the opportunities provided by mobile solutions for underground mining, the report notes that enabling supervisors to communicate with work teams in real time lets them “react and adapt to changing conditions, allowing an underground mine to function like a modern, sophisticated open-pit operation”. Furthermore, short interval control allows companies to “examine where decisions are made, and by whom, and empower their workers to make informed, data-driven decisions, quickly and safely”.

We’re proud to be delivering products that are so central to the practical digital transformation of the mining industry. Contact us to find out more about how Commit Works can help optimise productivity and safety on your mining operation.

Frontline scheduling - short term interval control

Dead ends on the road to integrated planning and short term interval control

At Commit Works, we’ve spent nearly a decade building and implementing integrated planning and short term interval control (SIC) software to bridge the gap between monthly plans and the work done by frontline teams.

The hours we’ve worked with teams on mine sites have given us a comprehensive understanding of the challenges facing operations and the results that they need to achieve. Throughout the years we’ve watched mining companies invest significant amounts of money and time with consultants, software companies and internal teams to develop solutions to this problem – in most cases, they have run into dead ends.

We’ve written this article to share our insights and guide you through the reasons this kind of project often fails to deliver a useful tool to the team at the frontline.

Common approaches

Why are they falling short? Let’s take a look at the three approaches we’ve seen used, which try to build tools for frontline planning and scheduling and short term interval control (SIC) on mine sites around the world.

The MOS consultant approach

Almost every mine we’ve been on has a set of whiteboards, spreadsheets or paper tools for planning, doing, checking and acting on site. Most of the time these were developed and implemented during a Management Operating System (MOS) project.

In one project we recently helped on, the mine had over 65 spreadsheets stitched together with pivot tables and macros. No one on site really knew how all these were supposed to work together and when one thing stopped working the whole system was broken. A massive amount of time was wasted on this operation in pre-planning, planning and lock-in/commitment meetings in the quest for a plan everyone could agree to – and most weeks the plan was wrong within hours of starting.

Spreadsheets and whiteboards developed by MOS specialists, even if they continue to be used on an operation, require considerable manual work in order to keep them going. Their biggest failing, however, is in their inability to produce real cross-functional/integrated planning and scheduling. This is not a safe or reliable way to coordinate a mining operation, and it doesn’t have to be the case.

In-house IT approach

Sometimes, mines or their head offices choose to go it alone, using an internal IT team to build a solution for the sites. Some of these are successful at delivering useful tools to the front line to meet the particular needs of that mining operation.

However, three things are difficult:

  1. The tool is normally very specific to one operation so can’t easily be used on other operations in the group. This means the whole development cost is covered by one site.
  2. In-house projects are often plagued by issues around product design, software integration, scope creep and change management. Many are ultimately left unfinished following changes in organisational structure or redundancies in the company. This is because effective software in this space takes years to get right and many corporate IT departments don’t last that long without change.
  3. To continue to provide value to an operation, certain support infrastructure and people need to be employed. We have heard of mining companies employing customer success and DevOps teams to look after the software they have built in-house. This can last for a while but recently we have seen these teams being disbanded by new leaders looking to save head office costs. In these cases, sites are left with an unsupported system that no one knows how to fix or improve.

Software mashup approach

Often a number of systems are pulled together into an uncomfortable collaboration, or a systems integrator is brought in to create a “system of systems” for work scheduling and production reporting. They might bring planning and Short Interval Control systems with them to implement in the operation, or they may work with a software company to build a customised solution for the specific need.

A recent example in North America saw no less than six software and consulting organisations engaged to collaborate and deliver a planning and Short Term Interval Control solution. They experienced all the integration and “turf war” issues you would expect and, in the end, spent over $14m to deliver something that can now be bought off the shelf from one vendor (us). The team involved in this work were made redundant recently, so the sites have a system without the support they need and the system is, as far as we know, likely to be replaced.

Another angle on this is the “wrong tool forced to work”. For example, it has been suggested by some that “mining is just like maintenance” so you should be able to set up standard jobs in SAP and schedule them using Prometheus to enable frontline planning. Although there have, no doubt, been some successes in plant environments, where the majority of work is maintenance work, it is very hard to get frontline mining teams to use SAP for this kind of planning. You have to look very hard to find a real mining operation where this toolset has been able to provide frontline teams with a shift plan to deliver each shift.

Why is this so hard to get right?

In spite of good intentions, smart people and big budgets, so many projects fail to deliver a long-term solution. Here are some of the reasons why.

Mining is complex and software people seldom understand how mining operations really work

Consider all the moving parts and processes in a mining operation: production, maintenance of equipment, projects, geology, survey, rehab, safety and hazard management, reporting and analysis. And then there are people too: planners, schedulers, coordinators, control room personnel, site supervisors, operators and tradespeople.

Without a comprehensive understanding of how all of these elements fit together, it’s impossible to develop effective software for these people. Our team has spent years consulting, doing “day in the life studies” and coaching supervisors in the field. We understand what they need because we’ve been listening for more than 20 years.

Inadequate feedback from real users

You need to spend a lot of time with users (and care deeply about what they say) in order to build a system that is both powerful and easy to use.

Good software takes a long time to get right and consulting teams charge too much each day to justify having their best consultants help on software development projects. Neither mining companies nor consulting firms are good at software development or support – it’s not core business – so they tend to be expensive and fail to deliver what the site really needs.

Restructuring means short-lived internal software teams

Most internal software teams don’t stay in their roles for long enough to develop, implement and support a system that can achieve effective integrated frontline planning and short term interval control (SIC). Company restructures generally mean that projects are disrupted or the people that built the system will no longer be around or working in the right department to look after what they built.

Too many point solutions

Point solutions concentrate on fixing one specific problem quickly but often fail to connect with other systems. While many mining software suites perform well in their specific areas of influence (such as operational planning, maintenance, reporting, fleet management, safety monitoring, or analytics) there are no other software or technology firms that can provide an end-to-end solution that connects mine plans to all the frontline work that needs to be performed to deliver the plan.

Most of these point solutions are designed the way they are for good reasons, so it can be very hard to get the busy software companies that provide them to adapt their solutions to meet the needs of frontline workers.

There are many solutions available today that support frontline teams – this diagram shows some of the major ones. But note the lack of connection between the various solutions as you proceed from monthly plans through to the detailed work schedules used by crews.

Lack of adoption

To truly get the benefits of planning and Short Interval Control software it’s vital that implementation, change management and adoption of the new system is managed effectively and that ongoing support is available.

What should you do?

So, what is the best approach? Should you pay a software developer or outsourcer to build customised software that works around your mine’s current systems? Or start from scratch with an integrated provider of planning software? Or would a MOS consulting firm give you the spreadsheets you need to streamline the management of your mining operations?

The technology and innovation projects in the above examples have struggled to deliver tools that the crew at the frontline actually use in the way they were intended to be used.

It pays to avoid these kinds of mistakes, but how?

How Commit Works has succeeded where others have failed.

Commit Works is the only provider of a comprehensive, fully integrated frontline planning and scheduling system (Fewzion) that works with a short term interval control (SIC) app and visualisation software (Visual Ops) to give a complete picture of mining operations, every day, every shift.

In developing our Commit Works products, we built a minimum viable product (MVP) of Fewzion for Anglo American’s Moranbah North mine in 2011. We have continued to develop, support and improve it since. We’ve completed successive implementations for other Anglo American, BHP, Glencore, South32, Peabody, Rio Tinto, Mastermyne and Barrick Gold sites over the past six years. Implementations have taken six to 16 weeks to complete and have all delivered significant improvements in production and safety metrics. Crucially, we continue to support each of these sites and regularly release new features (our latest release is version 19.1) so that they get the benefit of the experience we are always building.

From monthly scheduling of personnel and resources all the way through to the most granular task-based details of a single shift, our mining software allows management to see their operations clearly and make better decisions, whilst empowering frontline teams to get the job done more efficiently and safely.

Implementations of our software have helped deliver massive production and safety improvements for some of the world’s largest mining companies. Most recently a site experienced a 45% increase in mucked tonnes per day within weeks of everyone using the system. You too could get these kinds of results.

Want to hear more about our mining software and how we’re making mines work better? Get in touch or watch a video to see how we do it.

 

Mining Software

See Commit Works at Mining Indaba- South Africa

Mahene Benzane, VP Africa Africa Region & Partner and Emelia Chalker, Head of Marketing at Commit Works will be heading to the Mining Indaba Conference in Cape Town, South Africa from Monday, 4th February to Thursday, 7th February.

The 25th Anniversary Mining Indaba event will see the largest amount of investors, mining executives and junior miners from across the globe come together for this leading deal making forum.

Highlights Include:

  • Meet with over 750 investors and dealmakers under one roof
  • Sustainable Development Day – Be a driver of eco-conscious mining. Discuss the role of diversity, inclusion and local communities in the mining sector and discover the newest sustainability-driven innovations
  • Mining 2050 – How can big data, automation, AI and digitalisation increase your efficiency and visibility?
  • Investment Battlefield – Watch as the hottest emerging mining projects pitch against each other to a panel of high-profile investors to be crowned the 2019 champion.
  • Young Leaders Programme – How do you plan to avoid a skills gap? Meet with the young talent eager to start a career in mining.
  • 27 Ministers Confirmed and still growing

Our Commit Works team looks forward to talking about practical digital transformation on your mine operation and welcome the opportunity to meet with customers and prospects.

If you’re interested in how Commit Works can help revolutionise your operation, please contact emelia.chalker@commit.works to schedule a meeting.

Integrated Mine Planning Software

Fragmented frontline mining technology leaves mines short

Seeing the whole: systems that only focus on a segment of your operation can’t deliver top quartile results

Lifting performance and productivity in a mining operation is no small task. Mines are complex, and require an extremely high level of planning, scheduling, coordination and reporting if they’re to run as well as possible.

Across all industries, software companies are promising to transform efficiency levels and boost profits. In mining, the sheer scale of operations can make the task of finding smart, resilient and effective solutions daunting to say the least. Added to this, most mines are already dealing with legacy systems that are failing or limping along with unsatisfactory results.

Investment in technology that delivers results is crucial if mines are to compete and remain profitable – the good news is that technological advances are giving us unprecedented opportunities to improve operations. But not all solutions are created equal.

Consider all the moving parts and processes in a mining operation… production, maintenance of equipment, projects, geology, survey, rehab, safety and hazard management and reporting and analysis. And then there are people too: planners, schedulers, coordinators, control room personnel, site supervisors, operators and tradespeople.

This diagram is an attempt to capture this complexity and the lack of connection between the various solutions available today.

Any mining software that hopes to significantly improve the coordination and performance of a mining operation needs to consider all of these parts of the process and make it easier for the people on site to see reality, make plans and execute on them.

While many mining software suites perform well in their specific areas of influence (such as operational planning, maintenance, reporting, fleet management, safety monitoring, or analytics) there are no software or technology firms that can provide an end to end solution that connects mine plans to all the work performed to deliver the plan at the frontline.

So what’s the best approach? Should you pay a software developer or outsourcer to build customised software that works around your mine’s current systems? Or start from scratch with an integrated provider of planning software? Or would a MOS consulting firm do a better job of streamlining the management of your mining operation?

Recent examples have sought to “mash up” a number of the “point solutions” into an integrated whole, kindly assisted by “smartest people in the room” consultants. These “technology / innovation projects” have really struggled to deliver tools that the guys at the frontline actually use, the way they were intended to. Basically, because it’s really hard to get busy software companies to adapt and integrate their solutions to meet this need, change management can be forgotten and at the same time technology and innovation projects seldom have the hard-operational edge they need to deliver results for the site. These issues lead to poor adoption and mean that the expected benefits aren’t delivered.

So, it pays to avoid these kinds of mistakes, but how?

An approach that is paying handsome dividends for those that have invested in it is to ensure that everyone on site has a well-coordinated and easy to understand plan each shift, that this shift plan is visible to everyone (so that they are all on the same page) and that actual results and shift reports can be fed into it to facilitate the plan, do, check, act improvement cycle. This approach is making it possible for mine sites to (for the first time) do effective integrated planning and short interval control. This has resulted in massive improvements in the coordination of work on site, reduces waste and delivers upward of 40% improvements in production or development results.

The only holistic solution – Fewzion Frontline Planning Software

Commit Works is the only software provider of a comprehensive, fully integrated frontline planning and scheduling system (Fewzion) that works with a short interval control app and visualisation software (Visual Ops) to give a complete picture of mining operations, every day, every shift.

From monthly scheduling of personnel and resources all the way through to the most granular task-based details of a single shift, our mining software allows management to see their operations clearly and make better decisions, whilst empowering frontline teams to get the job done more efficiently and safely.

We have delivered massive production and safety improvements for some of the world’s largest mining companies. Our easy-to-use, complete solution has:

  • helped large miners and small contractors to deliver 25 to 50 percent improvements in performance less than three months after implementation on site.
  • And, enabled many mines to sustain their results for over four years, through successive management teams and ownership.

Want to hear more about about our mining software and how we’re making mines work better? Get in touch.

 

Future of Mining Americas

Commit Works takes off for Future of Mining Americas

Delegates from Commit Works will be jetting off to the United States later this month to The Future of Mining Americas conference in Denver, Colorado on 29 and 30 October.

Commit Works’ Director of Global Operations, Terry Henrikson, and Marketing and Communications Manager Emelia Chalker will attend the event, which brings together hundreds of mining professionals from all over the globe.

Last year, our CEO Paul Moynagh spoke at The Future of Mining Australia. At this follow-up event, Terry Henrikson will address attendees on “Creating Trust, Commitment and Sustainable Operational and Safety Results”.

The Future of Mining Americas will connect C-suite, heads and managers of mine operations, METS and support services from top enterprises worldwide to debate and define the current and future mining landscape across the Americas. Presented and curated by Mining Magazine and Mining Journal, the conference includes expert speakers with diverse strategic and operational experience, from project level through to the boardroom.

Our Commit Works team looks forward to learning from other leaders in mining, as well as sharing our insights and success driving improvements in operational performance, communication and safety.

Jhon Ansley - Commit Works COO

John Ansley New COO

Global technology leader John Ansley joins Commit Works as Chief Operating Officer

Leading mining technology company Commit Works announced today that it has appointed John Ansley as its new Chief Operating Officer (COO).

Joining Commit Works is a natural progression for Ansley, who has a deep understanding of the information technology (IT) landscape and a background in chief information officer (CIO) roles across the mining, logistics and pharmaceuticals industries in Australia, the United States, South America, Asia Pacific, Europe and South Africa. As Commit Works COO, he is enthusiastic about the opportunity to work at the leading edge of tech for the mining industry and beyond, as Commit Works pioneers a new standard in frontline planning, short interval control and site visualisation.

“Commit Works products solve the ‘last mile’ of technology, from enterprise systems right down to the tasks within a shift,” Ansley said. “Unlike many IT solutions, Commit Works has a fast return on investment, with a clear and measurable impact on key elements for companies – such as employee engagement, improved planning, and increases in productivity and safety.”

“The Commit Works team is also 100 percent focused on the success of its customers, which makes it a company I’m keen to work with.”

Ansley’s extensive international experience spans a diverse range of industries, and includes chief information officer (CIO) roles, advisory roles, business development, strategic consulting, digital transformation programs, creating new international information communication technology (ICT) organisations, and developing and managing large project teams.

He joins Commit Works at an exciting time, as the company expands in the wake of a strategic investment from Jolimont Global Mining Systems (Jolimont), which will accelerate its growth in Australia and internationally. “The appointment of John Ansley strengthens the Commit Works team in line with Jolimont’s commitment to the growth of the company. Having a world class team enables acceleration of the application of the world leading Commit Works technology, which benefits the industry.” said Lyle Bruce, partner at Jolimont and newly appointed Commit Works board member.

Andy Greig, Commit Works board member (the former President of Bechtel’s Mining & Metals Global Business and founder of Brisbane startup incubator, ACAC Innovation) said, “I am delighted John has joined the team. He is a talented executive with a great experience mix for his new role. He and CEO Paul Moynagh will complement each other very well.”

Commit Works CEO Paul Moynagh said that John would be an important asset for the team: “The breadth of his understanding and expertise will strengthen our business as we continue to develop our products and our reach.”

About Commit Works

Commit Works believes that successful organisations are built by people who make commitments to each other and deliver on them. Doing this consistently improves productivity, builds trust and helps frontline teams to out-plan uncertainty.

Its first product, Fewzion, was developed in collaboration with Anglo American to replace the cluster of whiteboards and spreadsheets traditionally used to prepare shift plans on site. A mobile app allowing real-time tracking of shifts connects to Fewzion, so that progress is regularly measured against plans.

Commit Works again worked with Anglo American to develop their Visual Opsproduct, which improves site safety and productivity. Visual Ops displays the near-real-time location of hazards, people and equipment on an operation. It is integrated with Fewzion as a holistic, easy-to-use solution for frontline teams, instantly synchronising information across devices, so that teams are always on the same page.

These unique innovations have delivered results beyond expectations, creating safer workplaces, streamlining projects, achieving record-breaking tonnages and empowering workers.

www.commit.works

For all sales, partner or media inquiries please contact Emelia Chalker – Marketing and Communications Manager:  emelia.chalker@commit.works (0414 652 637).

Mining Software - Paul-Moynagh - CEO COmmit Works -

Commit Works expanding global footprint with major investment from Jolimont Global Mining Systems

Founded by Alex Retzlaff and Paul Moynagh, Commit Works enables planned and coordinated work in challenging work environments such as underground mining and construction. Since adopting the Commit Works software, Rio Tinto, Anglo American and Glencore have increased productivity, in some cases by over 30%, and lost-time injuries are lower than industry average.

Commit Works is currently installing Fewzion, the flagship solution, at major BHP and South32 underground mines, bringing the latest technology to these operations.

Fewzion enables planners to quickly build integrated shift plans, which are provided electronically to mining and support crews, coordinating the complex work being performed throughout each shift. Crews and management have visibility of planned work and are accountable for achieving the plan through real-time progress measurement. Fewzion is a solution that’s improving the daily work in mining operations, delivering results at the coal-face.

CEO Paul Moynagh said the investment would enable Commit Works to expand their global reach. “We are thrilled to receive this significant backing from Jolimont, the world’s best mining technology venture capital fund ­- it will greatly accelerate our growth in Australia, the Americas, Europe and Africa. Our products reliably deliver rapid and significant improvements to operations (in many cases more than 30% increase in production results) – we look forward to sharing our software and these kinds of results globally.”

See complete article here

Integrated Mine Planning and scheduling software

Mining goes mobile

Commit Works features in CIM Magazine, article reposted here:

Applications to modernize mapping, monitoring and mine management

Mobile technology is ubiquitous today. Seventy-six per cent of Canadian adults owned a smartphone in 2016, according to Statistics Canada, and 54 per cent owned a tablet or e-reader. The numbers are virtually identical in the United States. It is no surprise, then, that mobile devices are changing how people work, even in industries as conservative – and as operationally challenging – as mining.

A handful of companies have begun taking advantage of the new technology space. The mobile applications they offer vary in focus, but each aims to help miners get better visibility, make better decisions and improve the efficiency and productivity of their operations – all at prices far below traditional enterprise-level software. That fact promises to help level the technological playing field between large and small operators.

If you know where you are…

Takor Group is an Australian geospatial technology startup. Their primary product, Mappt, is a low-cost, offline-capable mobile geographic information system (GIS) application. Users record data and photos against geographic locations, such as the position of a drillhole, using configurable forms. “It can pop up questions one by one, and as they’re answered, it jumps to the next question,” said Takor product manager Ciarán Doyle. “In the background, it’s saving all that information against that location.” Users can create geofenced inclusion or exclusion zones, defining them either ahead of time or by walking or driving the perimeter. “The app addresses quite a few of the pain points that field collectors were feeling,” said Doyle.

“The massive time savings” of collecting data digitally, rather than manually with a physical map and pen and paper, is a major selling point, said Doyle, brand and strategy at Takor, as is having all the tools you need in one device. And, he said, “The quality of data has shot through the roof.”

It is also a fit-for-purpose solution, like many of the apps available for mining. “One of the reasons that Mappt came about was due to the frustration of using ArcGIS and their mobile application,” said Doyle. “It’s quite extensive and extremely hard to use and to set up. You couldn’t just go out in the field with a professional tool without spending thousands of dollars, and there’s a massive process involved.” With Mappt, he said, a user can go straight from purchasing the product to being in the field in “literally minutes.”Mappt

Mappt, a mobile GIS app by the tech startup Takor, was designed to be low-cost and user friendly. Courtesy of Takor Group

Chris Devlin, director at iSpatial Solutions, a GIS consultancy which acts as “effectively, the in-house GIS department” for a number of small mining companies, often recommends Mappt to clients. “They like it not only for the functionality and the ease of use but also for the licensing model,” he said. “It’s simple and cost-effective.”

…you can plan where you’re going

MST Global’s Field Analysis & Reporting Application (FARA) uses Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and a mobile app to provide fleet and personnel management to underground and open-pit operations. Sean Dessureault, now chief innovation evangelist at MST, developed FARA at his company, MISOM Technologies, before selling MISOM to MST in late 2017.


RELATED:TRANSITIONING FROM INFORMATION OVERLOAD TO EFFICIENT OPERATION WITH SHORT INTERVAL CONTROL


“Our tablet for fleet management can be installed in a machine in a few minutes,” Dessureault said, and even temporarily in contractor vehicles. The tablets determine their position using GPS or by sensing small, $30 Bluetooth beacons that can be placed around the site – even underground. That location information can be used by the application to automatically track cycles, sequences and even delays and can be leveraged to prompt users for input using location-based triggers. Operators also use the app to fill in digitized forms for things like hazard assessments and pre-operational checklists. Tablet-to-tablet communication means that a supervisor can approach a vehicle and view the forms the driver has filled out, even without Wi-Fi or LTE infrastructure.

“From the operator feedback, they like the digital forms the best. It saves time, and they find the information more engaging,” said Dessureault – especially when the feedback is gamified, as FARA can be configured to be. Employees earn points on a leaderboard for the number of cycles they complete or for providing a good safety share, for example. Shift changes can be improved by rewarding operators for getting on their machine before a certain time. Before, Dessureault said, “even if you did write an excellent safety share during your take-five, nobody would ever really know. Miners love having that feedback. They love to compete.”

The sudden availability of inexpensive apps and consumer-grade electronic devices has spurred some operators to adopt systems like this for the first time. “Some of our installs were in places that have never had fleet management before,” said Dessureault, “so productivity increased significantly.”

Put down the clipboard

For other operators, however, mobile technology may augment existing information management systems and make a technician’s job easier.

Canary Systems’ MLWeb is one such data management system. It aggregates and correlates data from various third-party instrumentation and sensors, data loggers, radars and satellites to provide risk management for projects in numerous industries, including mining, construction and dams. The mobile portion of Canary’s software suite is the data collection tool MLField.

“MLField has been designed to support users in cases where they don’t have automated instrumentation,” said Martin van Balkom, marketing manager at Canary Systems. “A technician would like to go into the field and, for example, go to a piezometer and take a manual reading.”


RELATED: THE BANDWIDTH BACKBONE


“There are still cases where people take the readings manually” with pen and paper, added Andrei Pascu, Canary’s Canadian group manager. “Going back to the office, those readings are transcribed into the system or into Excel.” Using the app to collect data, he said, is both faster and more reliable – previous readings are shown, helping catch entry errors, and the tablet automatically syncs to the project database once online again, eliminating transcription errors.

“One of the advantages of tying this all together is the speed with which you can now manage the risk of this operation,” said van Balkom. “We have a dam client in the U.S. where their data collection in the field, from the time it was collected until the engineer saw it, took about 2 months. That’s basically historical data at that point.” Even engineers used to getting instrumentation readings 12 to 24 hours after collection could benefit from the increased visibility that digital methods enable.

BME, a South Africa-based blasting company, offers XploLog, which like MLField, is primarily for collecting data in the field. XploLog’s data syncs back to BME’s blasting design database, BlastMap.

“As the users are logging into the XploLog system the actual loading and timing of what’s going on in the field, that information is being sent directly back to the office, so the people in the office are aware of any problem,” said BME managing director Joe Keenan. “They might get an alert saying three holes have collapsed, so they can talk about the best workaround. Or they can just log it into the system so the actual design is recorded in the database.”

“It increases productivity, but it also reduces the surprises. These tools give you the ability to see the problem before it becomes the problem,” said Keenan. Before using the mobile app to record blast data, he added, “it was paper reports or word of mouth. And it was a very imperfect system, I assure you.”

Bring your plan to work with you

Eliminating paper from the field makes life simpler for both planners and supervisors. Fewzion is a work management system from Commit Works, which enables short interval control (SIC) on mobile devices in the field. All work on site can be pulled in from source planning systems such as Xact, Surpac, Deswik, SAP, spreadsheets etc., as well as inspections, equipment servicing, training, site development work and the actual production work. It is then planned and can be tracked in short chunks to ensure people can react to problems early enough to reliably hit their targets.

“It contains all the work and targets that planners from each department have agreed to, alongside detailed tasks that crews and supervisors think need to be done for the whole site,” said Commit Works CEO Paul Moynagh. “Then the team can start making some trade-offs to land on a plan that is achievable for each shift.” By making everything visible to the whole team, detailed planning can take place between silos, allowing everybody to understand and commit to a well-coordinated, holistic plan for the operation.

Moynagh notes that at many sites, supervisors still drive around with stacks of paper detailing the week’s work in production targets, Gantt charts, mud maps and even photos of the whiteboard from the production meeting. “If you see these massive piles of paper, you understand why it’s very difficult to find the information supervisors need or get good decision-making out of that kind of data,” said Moynagh. The mobile portion of Fewzion provides an organized, offline-capable digital view of everything in the system. “A phone or tablet is far more convenient to carry around. And if they’re out in the field and see something that needs to be done, they can create a task and suggest a time for it,” he added. That task will be synchronized across the whole Fewzion system once the device is online. “Add to our new mapping system (visual ops) and all work can be seen on a map next to the machines and people that will be doing it and any of the hazards that they might encounter.”

Users of Fewzion have seen 30 to 50 per cent increases in production after implementation, according to Moynagh. “A lot of the things that used to get in the way, a lot of the annoying waste, now gets planned out before it happens,” he said. “All the things that were causing them trouble, which are very hard to pinpoint, just start to disappear with a well-thought-out frontline plan that everyone can see and agree on.”

More than mere technology

In true Silicon Valley style, several of the app makers pride themselves as disruptors with a higher purpose. “Most tier ones would never pay $1,000 for something they could buy for $20,000,” said MST’s Dessureault, only half-jokingly. “Our price point is so low, we can open up the quarry market, the small-to-medium size mines.”

“The big thing for us is the democratization of technology,” agreed Doyle of Takor Group. “We’re reducing or removing possible barriers to entry for people to benefit from technology. Being able to run the app on a cheap Android device and basically have an enterprise-level tool at a bargain basement price, that’s what we want.”