Merging IT and Operational Technology in the Mining Industry

Mining technology

There is a lot of talk in mining and logistics about the convergence of operational technology and information technology (IT/OT convergence). Though huge amounts of money have been spent over the years on both types of technology, it’s common to see people on site using spreadsheets and whiteboards to “plug the gap” between their corporate IT & site based OT.

Innovations in mining solutions have made leaps and bounds to bridge this gap. Tools like short interval control, rostering and simple leave management have always been done at a site level because the corporate systems are too complex and sluggish to respond to a changing site. Take for example the knowledge that two fitters have called in sick and don’t expect to be back for the rest of the week. How does this information enter the operational plan so that someone can adjust it and reschedule their work? It’s unreasonable to expect the team to wait for this info to go through the outsourced SAP process to be able to change their plan.

Nonetheless both IT & OT have helped companies save money, time and resources. Modern online platforms are helping these to converge. This makes it much easier for operations to get the shift plan right and do short interval control. Supervisors can then manage leave and rosters and for everyone to see how the team are progressing on a shift, daily and weekly level.

Short interval control

Plans get made but sometimes deviations happen. Short interval control allows managers to review performance and make corrections to plans accordingly. In the past decade, spreadsheets and paper media were the only way to lay out what needed doing and fleet management tools seldom held the agreed plan for the shift.

Paper tools made the system “clunky” and are hard to sustain. Managers couldn’t get a true picture of what progress is getting made on the ground. Software built exclusively for short interval control in the field lets supervisors review performance against the plan at regular intervals. This way they can respond quickly when deviations happen.

Rostering and Leave

Supervisors need tools to access rosters and to manage the leave of their team. When someone is ill or something unexpected happens, managers and supervisors can’t afford to wait for SAP to tell them how many people they have. Mining solutions have given them online tools to access rostering and leave dashboards. It’s easier for managers to schedule their crew and understand the impact leave will have before they approve it. These can be connected to ERP so that all systems of record are kept up to date.

Daily reporting

On any mining project, reports get generated daily, weekly, monthly and/or annually. This assures executives targets are getting met, mostly on the financial side. Reports show managers and directors in the office that resources are used efficiently rather than sitting idle. Frequent reports are key to running an operation smoothly.

Reporting is another type of short interval control. Leaders cast their eye over recent past performance data, regroup and decide what needs to get changed (if anything).

Mining solutions exist to make life easier. Mining is rarely a small-scale operation and technology has given a major helping hand over the years. With the ongoing convergence of IT and OT we expect there to be massive gains in productivity and efficiency on sites that adopt these modern tools.

Commit Works builds software that makes it easier to plan and deliver improved production and safety results.

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