To seamlessly digitalise the mining, minerals and metals (MMM) industries, MMM organisations need to consider an integrated operations management (IOM) approach based on open architectures to gain holistic insight into their operations from design to maintenance, says Schneider Electric MMM business development manager for the Anglophone region Craig Hudson.
According to the World Economic Forum, digitalisation in the MMM industries has the potential to deliver more than $425-billion in shareholder, customer and environmental value by 2025.
Much of this value will come in the form of operational effectiveness, increased productivity, faster decision-making and enhanced safety. However, this value will not be achieved without some changes to the way the MMM organisations operate.
“MMM industries need to consider an IOM approach to gain holistic insight into their operations from design to maintenance. This means bringing all the data into a central location, using advanced analytics and business information platforms to gain a real-time view of the complete value chain,” Hudson says.
“Real-time contextualised data, driving business key performance indicators, is critical to unlocking the hidden value in the value chain of any operation. This is achieved by leveraging open and interoperable architectures as a platform to gather data in your operations. This increases your field-to-enterprise transparency and enhances value-chain visibility and efficiency along the complete asset lifecycle, moving you from the mining business to the business of mining,” he adds.
To help support global sustainability goals and to validate their social licence to operate, MMM companies must find easier ways to document and report their efforts to save energy and reduce carbon emissions.
“IOM systems can help by capturing and analysing energy data across the various stages of the value chain. This, in turn, ensures that sustainability reporting becomes significantly more precise.”
“Many MMM organisations often have too many paper and spreadsheet records, in separate departments, with no real ability to dynamically share the data they produce. Such a siloed mode of operation leads to inefficiencies that propagate mistakes and that prevent streamlining of processes. Further, it prevents accurate reporting, which is vital in the MMM industry for thorough safety and environmental reporting,” Hudson explains.
Meanwhile, value-chain optimisation is another important aspect when taking an IOM approach. Better visibility across the entire supply and value chain enables companies to optimise their entire operation and identify areas where bottlenecks occur. IOM establishes a consolidated environment that brings together plant and business information across multiple sites and commodity groups, he says.
“Silos are eliminated by bringing all stakeholders onto one platform, including mine executives, process metallurgists, production planning and scheduling personnel, procurement teams, mine operators, engineering and maintenance personnel, and more. This collaborative environment reduces instances of conflict and miscommunication by ensuring there is just one version of the truth. All of the controls are reachable from one place, so that situations can be properly dealt with as necessary.”
Within the MMM industry, 40% of operational expenditure is generated through maintenance activities. Asset maintenance costs will far exceed capital costs over the life of the asset. In some mining operations, more than 30% of the total site workforce is exclusively dedicated to maintenance. IOM considers asset performance by integrating risk and asset criticality into an overall asset performance management (APM) strategy, he says.
Real-time APM software can generate optimised maintenance and spare parts strategies, by first looking at the company’s business strategy and objectives and then prioritising actions down to an individual asset level to maximise production availability.
APM with real-time data moves organisations from reactive or preventive maintenance to informed predictive maintenance, concludes Hudson.
About Schneider Electric
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