From Mining to Mineufacturing

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Digital disruption in mining is gaining momentum fueled by the intensifying zeal of industry leaders to adopt attested manufacturing philosophies like Lean Manufacturing, Just-in-time production and Total Productive Maintenance.  Led under the guise of “Operational Excellence”, the core desire of mining businesses today is to produce the right amount in the right way, minimizing waste and loss.  This is seen as the most effective way to remain competitive amidst tightening markets and socio-environmental conditions globally.  We are seeing the transformation of many mining companies to move to a manufacturing way of thinking or what we call “Mineufacturing”.

This is no more evident than the recent wave of interest amongst mining companies to adopt “Short Interval Control” (or SIC) which is a factory-floor process for driving intra-shift production improvements.  Similar in thinking to the Kaizen process of incremental improvements to the manufacturing process, mining companies are instead using the more classic manufacturing improvement process known as the Deming “Plan-Do-Check-Act” (or PDCA) cycle.

All viable mining companies in the past 30+ years have technology in the form of process automation to perform the “Do” function.  Most have invested heavily in the past 20 years in the “Plan” function (Enterprise Resource Planning or ERP systems) and more recently, over the past 10 years in the “Check” function (Manufacturing Operations Management or MOM systems).  However, the difficulty in mining has always been their ability to connect the “Plan”, “Do” and “Check” together so that the “Act” or improvements function can be performed in a timely fashion.  This has proven to be elusive due in part to the complexity of the mining, comminution and metallurgical processes that are often linked via a vast supply chain.  For years, mining companies have resorted to manual, spreadsheet-supported processes to bring some kind of cohesion between planning, activity dispatching and data capture functions across their operations. This proved to be difficult, error-prone and ineffective for the most part.

It is through the partnership of best-in-class mining software vendors Schneider Electric and RungePincockMinarco (RPM) that Mineufacturing is now a reality and not a pipe dream.  By integrating Schneider Electric’s IPOS (Integrated Planning and Optimization Solution) software suite with RPM XECUTE & HAULSIM products, we have achieved the PDCA process into a true SIC solution that allows for intra-shift improvements and adjustments.  This is the “Act” that is possible when all the specialized systems are connected seamlessly and the workforce is digitally enabled.  Schneider Electric and RPM will be providing a demonstration of this uniquely innovative solution at MINExpo 2016 on 26 – 28th September in Las Vegas.

Mineufacturing is not just a manufactured word mined from two distinctly different industries.  It is a term that can be used to define the direction that many mining companies are driving towards today.  First it was Six Sigma.  Then there was OEE and capturing waste due to excessive inventories, downtime, performance degradation and yield losses.  Then silo eradication through the implementation of integrated supply chain scheduling took centre stage and made “Resource-to-Market” a reality.  Now in a world first, Schneider and RPM will unveil a true COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) SIC solution for the mining industry.

Minefacturing has now arrived through our Partnership and Innovation.


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