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The digitally enabled workforce: 4 ways technology is empowering mine planners

The face of mining is changing, and continues to evolve as innovative and disruptive technology underpins an array of fundamental shifts across the mining value chain. From exploration, through to mine planning and ore processing, accelerated adoption of digital technologies across the sector has created new mining roles that never existed a mere decade ago.

Advances in automation, robotics and connected enterprise systems, for example, are enabling mining companies to embrace digital capabilities such as cloud-enabled mobility and big data-powered analytics. According to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 2017 report in partnership with Accenture, titled ‘Digital Transformation Initiative—Mining and Metals Industry’, a digitally enabled workforce remains central to the digitalisation of the mining sector. The report also predicted integrated enterprise platforms and ecosystems as another key theme essential to successful digitalisation efforts. As technology is leveraged to exchange and integrate data, people can do more work from afar. Collaboration is instantly boosted across the value chain.

This new state of play has not only created a paradigm shift for mining companies, but also for software providers who traditionally deployed technology at mine sites or corporate offices on desktops or servers. With a server and cloud-orientated database, disparate data across the platform is now consolidated into one place and can be accessed anywhere.

Technology in mining is the enabler for a digital workforce, which has heralded a new era for collaboration and connectivity. This is no more apparent than in the field of mine planning and scheduling. Below are four key ways RPMGlobal’s short-term scheduling solution, XECUTE, can help mining companies reap the full benefits of a digitally enabled workforce.

 

  1. Remote, multi-user collaboration: Empowering remote and centralised workers is critical to a digitally enabled mining workforce. A robust and innovative short-term scheduling solution isn’t complete without the functionality to be collaborative, especially in an inherently remote environment. Mine personnel across different functions can now collaborate with the planning functions all the way through to operations and processing even when not on site. Equipped with a real-time, multi-user platform, XECUTE is the only short-term mine planning solution that has remote collaboration and live data feeds built in. This means planners can be productive all the time.

 

  1. Seamless communication: As digitalisation gathers pace, communication for the workforce is quicker and more seamless than ever before. With an advanced scheduling tool, updates should be rapidly enacted and easily communicated to the operations team. The visual component should also not be underestimated with regards to communications, as a rich spatial interface makes visualisation and communication of the plan much easier.

 

  1. Integration: To fully optimise the digital mine and create long-term value for operations, integration is essential. An integrated, enterprise mine planning solution is a key component of the digital mine whereby data is connected from central systems to geographically dispersed mining personnel. XECUTE delivers the integration necessary to connect disparate systems with information, meaning mine planners can react quickly to changes and rapidly consider alternative options.

 

  1. Real-time insights from anywhere: With advances in technology comes advances in software architecture. An innovative scheduling solution should be able to make use of real-time data available through any connected source, thereby providing the latest information, such as drilling and drilling programs, delivering far more operational context straight to the end-user no matter their location. The ability to view status updates in real-time on a laptop, tablet or mobile to make informed decisions is paramount for the modern-day mine planner.

In today’s ever-changing environment, these four key digital elements are more important than ever. As our workforce is forced into a remote working environment, communication and collaboration are paramount. Importantly, they can only be achieved digitally. Through the implementation of systems such as XECUTE, we can certainly be prepared for whatever the future brings.

James Kennon