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While the large mining houses move rapidly towards automation of mobile operations, generally their whole operational environment is powered by a single OEM chosen by the customer. This strategy not only specifies the types of trucks a miner uses for example, but also dictates the technologies required to support the autonomous operations, from the wireless infrastructure to the machine access technology. All of which has to be approved by the machine autonomy vendor.
If a customer wishes to use alternate technologies, the costs and logistics associated to validate and test a customer preferred alternative are often prohibitive and so, in most cases, things stay the same and the advantage to the customer of implementing newer and better performing solutions is lost.
Expanding larger operations’ access to their data
While this scenario may appear to be complex and limiting, many larger miners have been planning and implementing change over a long period of time in order to arrive where they are today, and, as a result, they are less impacted by the OEM’s technological directives.
For some miners, 3D-P has been a technology partner providing an avenue to not only implement their autonomous solutions but to provide a steady roadmap of transformation towards it. At the same time, 3D-P enables the customer to continue to create an environment of open access to their data in order to drive continuous improvement in their operations while on the journey towards their autonomy goals.
Working from this customer driven solution approach, it has also enabled OEM testing and validation of 3D-P products that interoperate with the formerly closed OEM solution which in turn has provided the keys that have enabled these customers to de-risk and minimise the need of forklift upgrade that other miners are forced to undertake when embracing an Autonomous solution.
Facilitating data access to contract miners
So, let’s wind forward to the real world for the rest of us in the mining community who often have nothing more than a clipboard or a mobile device like a tablet to record information as they operate in their daily business of moving ore.
There is much to be done for the contract miners and second tier operators in addressing the void between paper-based operations for production and maintenance and that of the fully connected and autonomous operation where availability of information becomes actionable in real time.
The challenges for the contract miner are often exacerbated through the fact that they often operate a diverse range of fleet. They typically face the challenges of interoperability and connectivity to exchange information between their own fleet to interact with the customers’ fleet systems and access to networks in order to transport the vital data required to achieve the efficiencies and availability of equipment required to attain contract targets, and at the same time remain profitable in the delivery of the contract.
Enabling smaller operators’ access to their data to automate processes for continuous improvement
A similar challenge also exists among the smaller operations where many still utilise manual paper-based processes to acquire the production and asset health information.
Information is often days behind and inaccurate, leaving the operator with little chance to implement any significant business improvement. Yet, there is often the perception that implementing any solution to automate current processes and bring information to near real time where real improvement changes can be made in short order cannot be justified from an ROI perspective.
While Autonomy may be but a distant dream for these operators, the challenge at this level is many are so busy just trying to keep up inside the business of digging ore, most do not have the resources to invest in strategic planning towards digital transformation. The opportunity to improve their business operations through transformation can be overlooked resulting in the business becoming left behind and less competitive.
Partnerships, the key to cost effectively access all your data
With extensive domain knowledge and experience in assisting larger mining operations with strategy and transition towards automation of their operations, 3D-P is rapidly becoming the strategic partner for more and more mid-tier miners and contractors providing a fast track alternative to investing in internal resources to develop the expertise.
3D-P brings the experience of all our customers’ projects to assist our clients to develop a customer driven strategy focus that is right for them which in turn enables them to remain agile in their operations, and open and agnostic in their technology roadmap strategy towards their transformation goals. It doesn’t have to be big and expensive to be elegant and smart.
To learn more about how 3D-P can help with your technology roadmap, contact us today.