Mining

The role of digitisation in mitigating mining downturns

The mining industry is variable by nature. Mining it is dependent on multiple factors, including:

  • uncertainty about the nature of resources being mined
  • the changeable quality of a mine’s resources over time
  • environments, sometimes remote and extreme, where money has to be spent flying miners in and out
  • weather
  • market demand for resources
  • mining equipment, which can break down as a result of unpredictable stresses and loads on site.

These factors are part and parcel of mining, and are here to stay. The key to navigating variability therefore lies in how we plan for these conditions. Mining’s future prosperity relies on digital solutions that improve productivity.

At Commit.Works, we develop our software on the basis that we can out-plan uncertainty using innovative technologies.

Mobile technology: smartphones and tablets

In their November 2015 report, McKinsey & Company identified key technologies that have the potential to manage variability and boost mining productivity. Among these technologies were those that involve human-machine interaction:

“Consumer smartphones and other mobile devices have transformed the way that people interact not only with one another but also with machines. Consumers rely on their smartphones for driving directions, booking taxis, and monitoring their health; applications are also spreading rapidly in the industrial field.”

Commit Works’ Fewzion software is one such example. Working via an app on a tablet or smartphone, Fewzion replaces spreadsheets and whiteboards with a comprehensive online shift-planning system that is visible to all teams. It puts the plan in the hands of crew supervisors via their mobile or tablet every shift, so that they become accountable for delivering on the plan.

Monitoring performance in real time

In the same report, McKinsey & Company predicted that real-time measurement of performance against the plan will be a key area of value-creation in future:

“One benefit of real-time data is knowing the state and location of every piece of equipment in a mining operation at every second – and, in particular, whether it is operating according to or outside of the plan. This real-time insight gives new meaning to operations performance management, taking the conversation from one about monthly output to one that focuses on variability and compliance to plan.”

Our Visual Ops product exploits this potential by enabling teams to map and track everything on a site, from equipment to hazards to people. This reduces safety risks and improves coordination by ensuring a high level of situational awareness for everyone in a team.

Commit.Works also enables real-time performance tracking by incorporating short interval control (SIC) into its Fewzion software. Fewzion’s short interval control captures data on shifts at two-hour intervals. This allows project managers, directors and team members to check performance and make adjustments to get back on track if something’s not going to plan. Problems can be picked up early and solved before they become more significant and costly.

Because SIC is based on the idea that we can learn from the past, it’s a system that continually works towards improving future work. Digitised SIC offers a way of monitoring performance that is more accurate, effective, user-friendly and visible to teams.