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Mining Software

Beyond the downturn: new priorities in Australian mining

Mining Software

2018 sees the mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector in Australia emerging from the downturn and reassessing its approach to the future.

With market conditions improving, confidence has begun to return to the sector but commodity prices are still marked by fluctuation. How should mining companies approach this new era?

These are the key, interrelated ideas around which the future of mining is developing:

  • Collaboration
  • Innovation
  • Technology

Commit Works is operating at the nexus of these priorities, delivering software solutions that grow with the industry and facilitate better collaboration on mining operations.

Collaboration

The value of collaboration in mining has gone largely untapped in an industry that’s known for its silos and secrecy.

Mining’s recent tough years taught companies that better cooperation in the workforce is crucial to improving efficiency and productivity, not to mention safety on site.

Collaboration across and outside of the sector is also a rising trend, with the resources industry building relationships with software developers, technical specialists, strategic thinkers and others. The role of diversified knowledge and new perspectives has been recognised in the bid to transform the METS industry and guarantee its future survival.

Innovation

Innovation was a focus for the industry during the downturn, as businesses fought to survive. In the wake of that challenging period, it’s become clear that innovation is now a constant consideration. The world is changing fast, driven by rapid technological advances and volatile markets; “innovation” is the shorthand for all of the ways in which companies can stay relevant and competitive.

Technology

The upswing in the market has meant that more companies can invest in technology – digitisation is now happening across all levels of business. These investments are seeing improvements in equipment capabilities, workforce management, safety and efficiency, as companies benefit from mobile technology, cloud computing, automation, real-time reporting and big data.

integrated mine planning and scheduling software

Andrea Brannan

Andrea Brannan: “Don’t be afraid to ask questions.”

Andrea has over seventeen years’ experience in the industry and is currently with Mastermyne as the Finance Manager Compliance & Mastertec.

The Mastermyne Group Ltd is a leading provider of specialist contracting services to coal-producing areas on the east coast of Australia. Over the past 20 years, it has provided services including roadway development, outbye mine services, secondary support, ventilation, longwall installation, conveyor installation, directional drilling, mine operations, access solutions, protective coatings, mining and industrial consumables, and other major mining project requirements.

Why did you choose mining?

Looking back on this now, my reason seems quite naïve: money. But having had over 17 years’ experience in the mining and mining services industry I have received so much more. I quickly learned that no two days are ever really the same. As you are working in an operation that runs 24/7, there are new challenges to face every single day, which means new learnings every single day, and a diverse range of people to interact with every single day. This keeps what many people believe to be a “boring” discipline – accounting – very interesting, challenging and rewarding.

What is your experience of being a woman working in the mining industry?

I can genuinely say mine has been a positive experience. I’m a firm believer in hard work paying off, and as a woman I have had to work harder to prove myself. However, I have been rewarded, as I have accomplished goals and I have risen through the ranks during my career.

Could you tell us about some challenges you have faced in the resources sector and how you overcame them?

During my career, I have been fortunate to work in a variety of fields within the resources sector: mining services, underground and open-cut mining, and a contracting operation. Each has brought its own challenges and all are unique. Learning about each of the operations and how they work was certainly a huge challenge. To do my job well, it was very important to really understand how these operations worked. I achieved this by talking to people and asking questions (the dumb questions) to ensure I understood all aspects of the operation. This interaction (in part) led to building effective working relationships.

The other challenge I faced, which I’m sure any accountant will tell you they encounter, is getting people interested in my work so I could deliver what I needed to. Everyone is busy with their own job and it is sometimes difficult to gain their time and attention and, let’s face it, when you want to talk budgets and costs who can blame them?! This is where I have drawn on the working relationships I’ve formed. I believe relationships work in two ways: what I can do for you and what you can do for me. By providing requested information in an accurate and timely fashion, delivering on what you have promised and working with people, you build solid relationships. These can then be called on when you are needing information.

What are you passionate about?

Delivering on my commitments. Delivering on time and accurately. Being an integral part of the business, helping to shape its financial and operational success. We all have a role to play!

Any advice to young women starting out?

Find what you are passionate about. Your work will never be a chore if you are working in a field you are passionate about and enjoy.

Find yourself a support network, whether it’s other women with whom you can share your experiences, or just someone who knows how the industry works and can give you sound advice.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. This is how you will truly gain an understanding of the business. It will also help you to build relationships, which I believe is a key fundamental to ensuring a successful and enjoyable career.
In recognition of women’s contributions to the resources sector and to celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March 2018, Commit Works is publishing a series of interviews with clients and employees this month.

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neha

Néha Singh

Néha Singh: “Technological transformations will make it possible for those with disabilities to do jobs they never thought possible”

Néha Singh is CEO at PACE – Partners in Achieving Change Excellence Inc., a change management coaching firm serving the resources sector internationally. The company’s mission is to empower clients by building capacity for continuous improvement. They specialise in being change agents using the latest tools and tailor their techniques to clients’ unique situations. PACE boasts 30% of Canada’s practising LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY™ professional consultants and is one of three national organisations qualified to deliver the Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument.

Néha lives in Sudbury, Ontario – the mining capital of Canada – with her husband Jake and her dog Thor.

Why did you choose mining?

Mining actually chose me. When I started my career early on, working in the Sudbury area as a software developer, the consulting company I was working for at the time happened to have contracts with Vale and Glencore.

What is your experience of being a woman working in the mining industry?

My experience being a woman working in the mining industry is very positive, and I have found that, more and more, the mining industry focuses on creating initiatives and incentives to encourage more women to join the mining industry. I often find myself surrounded by very few women.

Could you tell us about some challenges you have faced in the resources sector and how you overcame them?

As the CEO of Partners in Achieving Change Excellence, my current challenge is convincing the mines of the immense value and application of our change management services in the transformation happening in the mining sector. With the recent success of Beyond Digital Transformation and the meetings we are having, I do know we are close to overcoming this challenge.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about change and transformation in the mining sector. There is a major transformation underway – and not just transformation from a digital adoption perspective but transformation from a diversified workforce perspective. One of the things that most excites me is the fact that technological transformations will make it possible for those with disabilities to do jobs they never thought possible. For example, you could be sitting in a wheelchair in Thunder Bay operating a scoop in an underground mining operation in Red Lake [over 500 kilometres away].

Any advice to young women starting out?

My advice for all youngsters who are not sure of the field of study they are looking to pursue is to try getting internships etc. in industries you think you would like to be in before jumping into a university program. I am a big believer in hands-on education and you can only know if you are going to like something once you experience it.

In recognition of women’s contributions to the resources sector and to celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March 2018, Commit Works is publishing a series of interviews with clients and employees this month.

 

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Mastermyne- Commit Works Client

Kris

Kris: “It’s important to hold your ground, stand by your own morals and beliefs, and not succumb to pressures.”

Kris is a site administrator at Mastermyne. She began her 10-year career in mining working as an operator in open cut mines around Queensland before switching to administration.

The Mastermyne Group Ltd is a leading provider of specialist contracting services to coal-producing areas on the east coast of Australia. Over the past 20 years, it has provided services including roadway development, outbye mine services, secondary support, ventilation, longwall installation, conveyor installation, directional drilling, mine operations, access solutions, protective coatings, mining and industrial consumables, and other major mining project requirements.

Why did you choose mining?

I had seen the dump trucks and really wanted to be a part of that scene. It was a clichéd moment of being in the right place at the right time in terms of how I got a foot in the door though. Fortunately, I was an operator for five years in various open cut mines around Queensland before I got an opportunity to switch into underground administration.

What is your experience of being a woman working in the mining industry?

I find that open cut and underground pits are very different. My experience on the whole has been a great one – I truly love the mining environment. I’m interested in the processes, and I enjoy going underground on occasion in my current role to put what is happening on paper in perspective as to how it develops in the mine.

Could you tell us about some challenges you have faced in the resources sector and how you overcame them?

I have had unwanted sexual advances and texts and have been bullied by superiors and peers.

I have become a strong-willed person – 10 years in the industry has hardened me up. Obviously, each situation is different, and I have learnt over my years what boundaries are acceptable and what is pushing it. It’s important to hold your ground, stand by your own morals and beliefs, and not succumb to pressures.

Any advice to young women starting out?

It’s a great industry – there are some amazing people who will guide and teach if you are keen and show interest. Don’t get caught up in bitchiness and gossip (yes, the boys are just as bad, if not worse) and don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself when required.

In recognition of women’s contributions to the resources sector and to celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March 2018, Commit Works is publishing a series of interviews with clients and employees this month.

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Eske Pillen - VP Customer Success

Eske Pillen

Eske Pillen - VP Customer Success

Eske Pillen: “Just go for it. Do it. If it doesn’t work out, go and find something that does.”

Eske Pillen is VP Customer Results at Commit Works. An experienced client relationship manager, she is responsible for ensuring clients achieve their desired and expected results.

Commit Works makes software that helps operations out plan uncertainty by getting all their people working together on the same page. 40% of the world’s largest mining firms use our products to improve production at their operational coal face and to help deliver massive capital projects ahead of schedule and under budget.

An expert in business operations, Eske has been the backbone of the development of several SMEs, driving operational best practice across all business functions. During her career, she has advised clients on operational performance and quality assurance and has managed several front-to-end operational projects, including full IT system implementations and several employee engagement and change management projects.

Why did you choose mining?

To be honest, when I joined Commit Works I didn’t necessarily choose the role just because it was in mining. I did find the mining industry fascinating. My other half is in contracting crushing and the first time he took me to see some of the equipment in their yard I was gobsmacked. I’m originally from Europe and have worked for quite a few years in the corporate sector in London, so it was quite a change! Never had I seen anything like it!

Even today, I’m still fascinated by all the machinery, the organisation of a mine and what the crews are capable of achieving every shift.

What is your experience of being a woman working in the mining industry?

It’s interesting, that’s for sure. It may sound clichéd, but I see it as a challenge. When you do get that respect you feel good! And comments here and there… you just need to find that fine line between ignoring and responding I suppose. If it’s out of order they will hear about it for sure.

Back in London, I worked in male-dominated industries so I’m kind of used to it. I don’t think the mining industry is necessarily harsher than the corporate world – just different. I think I’ve adapted pretty well and I enjoy going on site!

Could you tell us about some challenges you have faced in the resources sector and how you overcame them?

I think the biggest challenge is for people to respect you and take on board what you’ve got to say. There have been a few challenges that I’ve faced in the past 12 months. Good example: one evening, fairly fresh in my current role, we were in a bar during a networking event with lots of people from the mining industry. I was talking to a few guys, genuinely trying to understand the industry they were working in, but I quite quickly realised they were only interested in me “as a woman” and absolutely nothing else. At the time I wasn’t sure whether to just leave it and walk away or say something about it. You learn how to deal with it as you go, I think!

To be respected by the people I work with is important for what I need to achieve doing the job I do and, of course, for me as a person. Being “young”, a woman and without a background in mining can be a little tough sometimes. I’m a lawyer, not an engineer! So I use the skills I have as well as I can, I’m honest if there are things I simply don’t know and I try to put myself in my client’s shoes as much as I can.

What are you passionate about?

Stepping out of your comfort zone! Sometimes I think, “Why Eske, why?” but I love it at the same time. Being raised in Holland, after my studies I moved to London for five years, then lived in Oman in the Middle East before heading to Australia. I’ve moved a fair few times and have worked with lots of different people in different places. A few weeks back we drove 5,500 km to the north of Western Australia to live in a caravan for the next 18 months moving from place to place. And, of course, my horse is coming too. Not always easy, but if it’s possible, why not? It’s a great adventure. And I’m grateful my boss is flexible and lets me work from home!

Any advice to young women starting out?

Just go for it. Do it. Don’t feel sorry for yourself in difficult situations. If it doesn’t work out, go and find something that does. Everything happens for a reason.

In recognition of women’s contributions to the resources sector and to celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March 2018, Commit Works is publishing a series of interviews with clients and employees this month.

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International women's day

Women in resources: our International Women’s Day feature

In recognition of women’s contributions to the resources sector and to celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March 2018, we’ll be introducing you to some of our Commit Works clients and employees in a series of interviews this month.

Women across the world continue to make significant strides in their careers and ­have a great deal to offer traditionally male-dominated industries. We look forward to sharing the stories of some of the talented women we’re proud to work alongside:

 Néha Singh – PACE – Partners in Achieving Change Excellence

 Commit Works supports International Women’s Day and its campaign theme, #PressForProgress.

Frontline Mining Software

Fewzion: Power in simplicity

Designed to solve a common problem

Commit Works initially developed its Fewzion product to overcome obstacles to productivity in an underground coal mine in Queensland.

“The planning spreadsheets and whiteboards that were limping along in the mine were simply not up to the task,” recalls Commit Works CEO Paul Moynagh. “They wasted a lot of people’s time (time that was better spent underground), they were hard to manage, the macros broke all the time, and it was impossible to see what other planners were planning or even whether the plan was getting done.”

These problems were not unique to this mine – issues around monitoring KPIs, crews and their equipment from shift to shift are widespread. While good long-term planning tools exist, there was a gap in the market for reliably managing short interval control (SIC) and dealing with inevitable changes and challenges that arise on site on a daily basis.

Visibility and accountability

Fewzion replaces spreadsheets and whiteboards with a comprehensive online shift-planning system that is visible to all teams. It focuses on putting the plan in the hands of crew supervisors every shift, so that they become accountable for delivering on the plan.

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.

Simplicity and ease of use

Moynagh believes that Fewzion’s power lies in its simplicity.

“The thing everyone mentions is how simple it is to use, and that it is easy to set up and doesn’t cost a lot,” he says. “It works through a browser and can be set up either in the cloud or on your servers.”

“People who can’t use computers can still use Fewzion – it’s iPad simple. In just two hours training coordinators, schedulers, planners and under-managers can be set up and ready to create and manage weekly plans and schedules.”

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.

Commit Works- Mining Technology

What to consider when implementing new technologies

What to consider when implementing new technologies

In previous posts we’ve discussed how vital it is that mining companies invest in technologies that enable them to keep pace with the industry’s innate challenges. In short, mining’s future prosperity relies on improving productivity by making use of innovative digital solutions.

But how do you know which solution is right for you, and what should you consider before investing company money in new software?

Paradigm shift

Perhaps the most important point to make is that embracing technology needs to happen as part of a broader change in the way mining is envisioned and carried out. The McKinsey & Company report How digital innovation can improve mining productivity argues that innovation needs to be seen by industry leaders “as an undertaking that encompasses all aspects of the business, rather than a technology effort”.

This fundamental shift is necessary for mining companies to draw real value from digitisation: “In particular, much of the value creation in mining will shift from how well the operation moves material to how well it collects, analyzes, and acts on information to move material more productively”.

Rather than investing in technology and hoping it will create value on its own, mining companies need teams that are able to understand both mining operations and technologies, so that new tech can be integrated effectively into operations and the results measured.

What about the people?

McKinsey & Company note that technologies are of limited help if they’re implemented without regard for the people who’ll be using them:

“From our work on big data across industries, we know that technology – data, analytics, and systems – is only part of the answer. Changes are needed in processes and people to most effectively implement technology and the new ways of working that it makes possible. Successful miners will set an integrated vision from data to systems to core processes to people capabilities, recognizing that new technologies only create value if they change the way people work and make decisions.”

A large part of the responsibility for integrating technologies with processes, decision-making and people must lie with the top executive team. McKinsey & Company stress that clear ownership of innovation needs to be built into the upper rungs of management, which means “refining the organizational design to create meaningful senior roles for people with technical skills, and redesigning the annual planning and performance-management process to create space for innovation”.

The Commit Works approach

At Commit Works, we’re passionate about showing our clients how to get the most from our software. Our demo sessions provide an opportunity for prospective users to explore how Commit Works can drive measurable business value. We’ll show you how our technology is reshaping business models and enabling companies to gain a competitive advantage.

Contact us to see how we can help you plan, track performance and stay on budget to improve your bottom line.

Frontline Planing and scheduling software

Mining technology: key to productivity

In mining and logistics, errors can cost millions, not to mention jobs and reputations. Delivering projects on time and sticking to the budget is vital for bottom line profits.

Mining software that maximises productivity and clear communication is therefore hugely valuable to large projects where complexity can undermine successful operations.

Commit Works’ Fewzion software is the ultimate well-rounded productivity tool, allowing organisations to outplan uncertainty and deliver on time, on budget, every time.

Commitment-based

Planning involves commitments from multiple teams to deliver work on time and within allocated budgets. Fewzion facilitates and tracks commitment-based planning so that:

  • plans are visible to all teams
  • everyone is accountable.

Collaborative

Large projects involve multiple teams and it’s common for work to become siloed. When this happens, inefficiencies and miscommunication can arise. While it’s necessary for teams to work on their own specialised tasks, good communication improves both work quality and delivery times.

Fewzion creates a single, integrated frontline plan that brings all work into one place and makes it visible to everyone. This fosters collaboration, minimising confusion and boosting productivity.

Data-driven

Checking data against targets at regular intervals ensures that a project is on track. 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. Checking at short intervals means that potential problems can be picked up early and solved before they become more significant and costly.

The get optimal results from mining software all relevant employees need to be trained to use the technology properly. Our Commit Works demo is for all team members who’ll be using our software.

Contact us to see how we can help you plan, track performance and stay on budget to improve your bottom line.