Over the past few years, it’s become much more difficult to manage mining, energy and resources supply chains. Longer and interconnected physical product flows show just how complex managing asset portfolios has become. With industry and market volatility increased by recent events such as COVID-19, there is now a bigger need than ever for agility and flexibility in all aspects of mining business. In short: mining companies and those they work with are turning their attention towards building long-term, digitally-led resilience into these important systems.
AI-based supply-chain management solutions such as mining management software are expected to help mining businesses streamline their processes and optimize their performance. By digitally integrating all business functions, from procurement to sales, digital mining management software can offer a comprehensive solution that addresses the specific needs of each organization. Not only does AI have the ability to understand and study expansive data sets, but it can also reveal relationships within this data, offer visibility into company operations, and support improvements in decision making. Despite all of these potential benefits, mining companies must still take specific organizational steps to ensure that they are reaping the full value that digital transformation has to offer.
Although it is vital, mining generally relies on outdated paper-based tracking systems that are slow and inefficient. This process can be very tedious, especially when taking into account the possibilities for human error and inaccurate reporting.
The evolving state of supply chain management
The way we do business is changing, and mining supply chain management is changing with it. In the past, supply chain management was all about getting the right products, resources, vehicles and equipment to the right place at the right time. Today, it’s about so much more; it’s about being able to adapt to the ever-changing needs of the customer, keeping overhead costs down, minimizing potential disruptions, avoiding costly unplanned shutdowns and maintenance, being able to respond to unexpected outside factors, and still keep the supply chain running smoothly.
Nowadays, many mining companies have shifted their supply-chain management to focus on optimizing the company’s global value, rather than just making local functions better. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only amplified the need for companies to develop their central-planning skills but also created disruptions and new demands in supply chains for companies to respond to.
The good news is, there are plenty of mining management software tools and resources available to help supply chain managers make the necessary changes. By working together, businesses can ensure that the supply chain is able to adapt to the ever-changing needs of the customer and stay ahead of a shifting economic landscape.
Pushing for digital-driven supply chain transformation
The mining industry is one of the most heavily impacted by AI and digital automation. It is also a sector that can benefit from using cutting-edge software platforms to improve its operations. Construction, energy, resources and mining industry professionals have a lot of work to do when it comes to supply chain management – managing everything from sourcing materials and equipment to purchasing and distribution, to scheduling manpower and project timelines. Add in the complexities of shifting global markets, and it’s no wonder why many mining businesses are looking for ways to automate or streamline their supply chains.
Mining companies often try to increase performance by making supply-chain or business-plan teams larger and more relevant, but this does not guarantee success. In order to improve performance, mining businesses must consider other issues that may affect production and supply chain coordination:
- predicting demand across markets and geographies
- dynamically identifying trade-offs with hundreds or thousands of interlinked variables and innumerable technical constraints
- integrating digital mining software solutions (such as processing optimization, predictive maintenance, or master data quality) to manage the wider value chain
- ensuring that plans get executed on time, and can adapt to variability (such as demand shocks, production stoppages, and transportation disruption) in a timely manner
AI and digital automation has the potential for revolutionizing how these professionals manage their supply chains by optimizing every step of the mining operations process – from identifying procurement opportunities, all the way through the delivery of materials and equipment at job sites.
4 steps for integrating digital mining management software
Mining is a complex and challenging industry, requiring the coordination of a wide range of activities across the supply chain.
Luckily, digital-based solutions exist to assist companies in excelling in their supply-chain management. These features include demand-forecasting models, end-to-end transparency, integrated business planning, dynamic planning optimization, and automation of the physical flow—staying ahead of prediction models and analysis to understand causes and effects within supply chains. Digital-implemented supply-chain management has allowed those who adopted it early to improve logistics costs by 15%, inventory levels by 35%, and service levels by up to 65% in comparison to their slower competitors.
With the increase in global competition, it has become more important than ever to choose the best mining management software for your business needs. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to try and find a solution that is not only smartly designed but also fits well within your company’s budget and strategic goals. By aligning in this way, companies can make key decisions with valuable insights without overcomplicating things. But due to the time and money needed for implementation, it’s extremely important that everything is done correctly.
Here are four steps for digital mining management software to help streamline your supply chain management:
1. Identify your key value areas, strategy, and road map
To get started, mining companies need to identify and prioritize the ways they can create value across all core business functions, from procurement and manufacturing to logistics and commercial. Fewer than one-third of mining companies do an independent diagnostic at the outset, but this exercise is essential to ensure accuracy when identifying value creation opportunities.
Having a clear digital mining supply-chain strategy helps the company’s business strategy and ensures better alignment with its digital program. Furthermore, being solution-agnostic allows companies to identify what is needed to improve performance as well as create a strategic road map; this includes process redesign and organizational changes.
2. Find your ideal solution and select vendors
Given that mining supply chains are complicated—including demand forecasting, planning optimization, and digital-execution tracking—it is increasingly rare to find one provider who can manage all these needs. Mining executives should keep in mind that the right solution for their company might not be recommended by providers, since those parties typically want companies to purchase a single end-to-end solution.
Solution design and vendor selection alone cannot support the digital supply-chain strategy– integration must be a top priority. An effective approach is often a combination of different solutions from various providers, implemented by multiple systems integrators.
3. Implementation, rollout and systems integration
A lack of organization-wide technology experience is common among mining companies. After these companies select solutions, the risks are coming in over budget and not meeting the implementation schedule – causing them to lose focus on their primary objective: addressing value-creation levers from the first pitfall. Out of supply-chain leaders, only 25 percent said they felt that their system integrator’s objectives were aligned with their own.
4. Coordinate internal change management and monitor progress
Even though mining companies’ primary focus is on tech solutions, they still must attend to other integral parts of their business, like change management and capability building. According to research, this task seems to be a common challenge: for instance, only 13% of mining company executives say that their organization is ready to fill the skills gaps present.
In order to have new solutions accepted, mining companies need to invest in change management and capability building before, during, and after releasing new technology. Everyone will likely adopt different methods of working, so it’s important that there is a plan to educate teams about the changes, and how they can benefit.
Supply-chain management has always been a daunting task, but solutions are on the way. AI will be able to provide teams with deeper insights at a much higher frequency and granularity than ever before. If you want to make a greater technology-based investment, be sure that your organization is prepared for the changes that will come with it (including things like updated business processes and upskilling key personnel) to get the greatest ROI.