By: Rachel K. Carson, MarCom for Process Industries
How? Where? When? Why? How often do we have questions about digitalization, especially when it comes to the Digital Mining Transformation, but still not know the answers? We sat down with Doug Warren, VP of Software Industry Solutions at Schneider Electric, to answer some commonly-asked questions on the topic. In our discussion, Doug breaks down digital mining transformation in greater detail to explain the more complex areas of solution implementation, generation workforce evolution, industry challenges, and related topics.
Q: What advice would you give companies that are just starting out with their digital mining transformation?
A: First, you will want to start with a quick review of your production as it travels through your overall supply chain. It is important to take analysis of the areas of constraints. These problem areas are the best starting points. Data sources and stability in basic operations should always be solidified before implementation of digital solutions. This is because it is difficult to apply more advanced digitization without smart sensors. The real benefit will also not be gained until this function is stable and efficient.
Q: Can mining companies of all sizes benefit from Digital Mining Transformation solutions?
A: Yes, absolutely. While the major mining companies started the trend, the next tier-down players are getting equal benefits that the major players are achieving. As technology and cloud space become more affordable, it is easier and more economical than ever before for all mining companies to benefit from Digital Mining Transformation solutions.
Q: What services or implementations does Schneider Electric offer and provide mining companies with their Digital Mining Transformation journey?
A: Schneider Electric has consulting and solution capabilities that are delivered globally. I would say that the majority of our mining expertise is scattered in the mining hotspots globally. There is a reasonably large team in Australia. Smaller teams are located in Latin America, Europe, South Africa, etc. We have a number of global, regional, and local partners with which we team with to define solutions and assistance with functional specification, and in total, deliver solutions. Our global ecosystem of partners, both internal or external, can help our customers realize the benefits of Digital Mining Transformation solutions.
Q: Is Schneider Electric active in smart sensing, data analysis, and optimization to make real-time decisions for the more complex resources?
A: Yes. There are specific areas within Schneider Electric that specialize in more complex resources. We have a great amount of expertise in analyzing and decision making solutions and ultimately delivering those solutions that come from smart sensing. We team with those partners or external companies who focus on smart sensing to arrive at your mine’s exact required solution.
Q: What is the impact that next generation workforce transformation has on the mining industry and how will they too impact everyday operations and the Digital Mining Transformation?
A: Great question. There are a number of different dimensions to the evolution of the transformation. Every time a resource-based industry goes through a downturn, most of those laid-off workers never come back. I think the workforce, and its skill set, is shrinking. The bright side to this, however, is that technologies allow us, collectively, to do more with less. Whether it is mobility applications or decision-making tools, we can provide the same output, or provide the same quality with fewer people. That is one dimension of the workforce transformation. Another dimension is the length of time that a given employee will stay with the same company. The days where someone worked at a coal mine for their entire career are gone. We must get our workforce trained and operational in a safe and effective manner faster than ever before. There is a large population of the workforce retiring within the next five to ten years. This means it is time to leverage digitization methods and simulators more quickly to meet the new generation workforce and ease their entry. This generation is very digitally savvy and they expect a higher level of intuitive user interfaces in applications than any other generation seen before. Monochrome enterprises will not cut it anymore. Digitization is the next step that all mines must take.
Q: What clients have been implementing these solutions?
A: Schneider Electric has had mining solutions for a couple of decades now. Almost all mines have some sort of Schneider Electric software implementation whether that is a solution as a whole or equipment parts. Some of our customers include Codelco from Chile, Rio Tinto North America, and some smaller mining companies from Australia.
Have more questions about the Digital Mining Transformation? Watch the On-Demand Webinar recording
Watch the Digital Mining Transformation Webinar, as Doug provides insights on how leading mining companies are leveraging digital capabilities to drive operational excellence, to succeed in this challenging environment. Watch now.