The mining industry has been at the forefront of digitisation in recent years, with many companies having embraced technology as a means to increase productivity and efficiency. It’s becoming clear that digitising the mining industry can help mine operators improve productivity while also reducing costs and optimising output.
However, achieving transformational growth through digitisation often requires significant investment in infrastructure and systems, as well as coordination across supply chain partners, stakeholders and front-line operations staff. To successfully accommodate this shift, mining companies need to adapt their business models to become more agile – encouraging collaboration across the ecosystem, building strategic partnerships, and investing in cross-industry skills development, and research.
Impact of digitalisation on the mining industry
Digitising the mining industry can help mine operators improve productivity while also reducing costs and optimising output.
Mining businesses can significantly increase their production, cut expenses, and maximise output by digitising their operations. This is because the more data-driven a company’s operations are, the better it will be able to manage its resources in terms of time, materials, and manpower.
Additionally, digitisation allows for greater visibility into production processes such as planned maintenance shutdowns, inspections, audits and compliance records, enabling management teams to make smarter decisions about how best to use on-site resources at any given time.
The benefits of digitisation for mining companies include:
● Improved planning, scheduling, and production management across all business functions
● Enhanced collaboration with suppliers/service providers
● Reduced risk through more efficient use of resources (eg. capital investment)
● Better collaboration between teams within the organisation – particularly across geographies
● Increased visibility into operations across geographies – enabling faster decision-making processes
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The road to digital technology adoption
In recent years, the mining industry has seen a significant rise in digital transformation. The industry’s increasing embrace of digital innovation is no doubt driven by its need to remain competitive and ensure its continued success.
However, this process hasn’t been without its challenges. While some companies are successfully embracing technology as an enabler for growth and efficiency, others have struggled to adapt to new technology trends affecting their business models.
Achieving transformational growth through digitisation often requires significant investment in infrastructure and systems, as well as coordination across supply chain partners.
For example, some mining operators have invested billions of dollars to digitise their operations. This includes deploying smart sensors and remotely operated vehicles in mines, automated machinery, and equipment on the surface, as well as supercomputing capabilities to analyse data. Such huge investments are enabling the operators to achieve greater productivity gains across the supply chain while reducing costs and improving efficiency in the long run.
Challenges in mining digitalisation
● Digitalising the mining industry requires a comprehensive change in the way the entire value network thinks about and adopts technology. The value network comprises all players involved in producing, processing, and supplying minerals – from individual miners to large operators with thousands of employees. The fact that it is so diverse means that it must be open to new technologies and solutions from various providers. This will facilitate collaboration on developing solutions for digitisation, including standards for data exchange between systems, which are necessary for integration within an end-to-end digital value chain.
● Digitalising an industry like mining involves not just implementing new technology, but also adapting management processes so that they can fully exploit opportunities offered by digitisation. While technology offers ways to overcome barriers and unlock opportunities for operational efficiency, it also introduces new challenges.
● The initial cost of new technology can be prohibitive, and many companies may not have the budget to afford the equipment they require. New technologies may need additional staff training or support services to help manage them effectively. Many organisations are still grappling with how best to implement these technologies into their operations while ensuring they comply with regulatory requirements such as security and privacy standards.
Closing the digital transformation loop
To become more agile, mining companies must modify their business models. Key components of this change include fostering ecosystem-wide collaboration, creating strategic alliances, and investing in multi-tiered talent development and research activities.
The road toward digitisation has not always been smooth for the mining industry. It’s taken decades of investment before we see these positive results today. However, there is still much work ahead for mining companies if they want to achieve sustainable success through digital transformation. This requires a comprehensive change in the way the entire value network thinks about and adopts technology – including mine planning processes, operations and mining management systems, supply chain management systems, corporate governance frameworks, investor relations processes, risk management frameworks, internal controls (including procurement), remote monitoring applications (pipeline leak detection), and workforce safety practices.
As more mines and mining supply chains adopt technology into their everyday project management, we’ll continue to see benefits across all areas of operations. This can be seen in the increased productivity and reduced costs that result from automation and advanced analytics, but it also means there are new challenges for mining companies to overcome as they work towards becoming more agile organisations.
By adapting these opportunities for innovation, mining companies can leverage technology to unlock new opportunities for growth while also supporting each other along the way.
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