Where does the digital fast lane take us all?
The past many months, with a worldwide pandemic, have shown that those who have invested in digitalization in good time now have a decisive advantage in global digital competition. Working conditions have had to adapt rapidly, and now, home offices, video calls and webinars have become the new reality. But obviously this is only happening at the visible surface – digitalization started a lot earlier: Through digital transformation in the last few years business models, operations, processes and tools have evolved to an extent where digitalization has taken an integral role in most working environments. While digital technology now is deeply rooted in the workflows and processes of our lives, the focus has shifted, from purely putting people in the center (Web 3.0), towards the next digital evolution level: Web 4.0, IoT, etc. Digital Customer Journeys, artificial intelligence or Big Data underline how digitalization helps people work more efficiently and faster utilizing digital technologies.
Bits and bytes in mining
In the field of mining and natural resources it is difficult to decide what to lay digital emphasis on and how to prioritize digitalization. Where to start? What to do first? Challenges here include high capital investments in automated operations and equipment, personnel commitments, IT security, data security and protection, data processing and analysis, information quality and granularity, communication standards, legal hurdles and frameworks, QHSE concerns and many more. Where and how to connect the “silos” and transfer them into a digital hub?
As a leading provider of engineering and consultancy services, DMT Group has long turned its attention to digital mining, considering themselves as the customers’ digital transformation office. With its rich mining experience, DMT brings together all relevant disciplines of consultancy and engineering for their clients’ transformation: From exploration, through the operations phase up to mine closure, rehabilitation and subsequent site use, we help identify the best fitting digital solutions at any stage of their transformation process. From owners to operators and investors, we help clients in achieving reliable management and mind-set shift along the complete digital mining value chain.
Digitalization of mining companies and operations is crucial to secure their future competitiveness. We accompany any mining business in its specific digital transformation scope with our four-step toolbox: Digital readiness assessment, roadmap creation, digital process engineering and implementation supervision. The modularity in our services is what suits clients’ needs: We support either as the consultant for case specific tasks or as a companion alongside the entire digital transformation journey in the mine life cycle.
Transformation is taking place at all levels of mining. People, operations and processes are facing new challenges that we address with integrated, innovative digital concepts. We consider ourself as the client’s digital owner’s engineer.
DMT consulting experts support mining customers with a sophisticated four-step toolbox in digital transformation projects.
Like other industries, the mining industry constantly demands improved productivity, sustainability, competitiveness and safety. In addition, reduced cost, enhanced employer branding and comprehensive risk management need to be achieved or at least addressed by digitalization.
The need for transparency and independency in any of these stages is crucial from both operative and commercial perspective. Our services help build a solid foundation for typical acquisition and feasibility steps in mining.
When it comes to the financial side of any mining project, DMT’s four-step procedure helps identify cost and investments at early stages, and thus support the next feasibility step validation. Digitalized and optimized business operations and processes reduce the investment risk. Mining companies with a high digital maturity level carry a big advantage when it comes to progressing seamlessly to the next feasibility level. This strongly increases the attractiveness for potential site or project acquisitions.
We also help facilitate the procurement of capital. Banks or investors do not have to focus on any digitalization aspect of mining acquisitions anymore. Digitalized processes help reduce project complexity, allow faster access to numbers and thus reduce investment risks in mining.
As DMT is part of the larger TÜV NORD GROUP network, this opens up opportunities for additional service needs beyond typical mining engineering and consultancy, for example IT security.
The four-step toolbox at a glance
Many mining companies do not start with the definition of their digital strategy but rather roll out single digital components hoping for deep impact. Of course we can also help in identifying and installing separate tools, however, we recommend an assessment of the whole transformation status.
Our digital four-step strategy embraces the goal to transparently optimize clients’ processes and reduce cost while improving business KPIs and sustainability. Predetermined breaking points in our services guarantee a modularity that is important for critical feasibility levels in the mining business.
At first, current processes need to be assessed by the digitalization check: Where lies promising potential for leveraging organizational transformation, digital operating opportunities, data handling and digital infrastructure? This step includes the number crunching. We look at all details – from personnel to spare parts and consumables. At the same time data from any source such as surveying, scanning or monitoring can be easily collected and assessed as well. Data that is available in real-time. Imagine a sensor on a drill bit and how it gives instant feedback for quality measurement.
Here, digitalization is understood as the connection from pit to clients, from digital probes to decision makers. Together with our customers, we decide which area will be addressed in the next steps.
The digitalization roadmap then takes all learnings from the previous step into consideration while having the focus on maximum connectivity of digital, profitable and safe mine operations. DMT outlines a detailed roadmap plan covering all affected mining disciplines even including connected plant, rail and port processes or the visualization through comprehensive dashboards. This includes a central mine monitoring platform that serves as a funnel to report data, ideally cloud based. By this platform, clients are enabled to have a real-time overview at any time helping to take typical go/no-go decisions in mining. Again, DMT’s own solutions can be utilized here or we help in identifying the best third-party solution for the clients’ needs.
And as data is the new gold: Connection and integration of separated databases is key in this stage, covering critical mining segments as exploration data, geophysical and -technical assessment data (GIS), ERP systems, fleet management data, weather, environmental, maintenance, third-party and contractor data. We help defining digital roadmaps and execution plans leveraging different source data and prioritizing information for next level transformation decisions or single operations steps like production optimization.
Through a broad market overview and with our in-house technical experts, DMT is able to advise process design and adaptions with Digital Due Diligence testing or as the Digital Transformation Office. By leading TÜV NORD GROUP’s engineering and consultancy division, DMT is well experienced in laying out innovative and holistic Mining 4.0 solutions based on the agreed roadmap.
Customers can trust in DMT, operating as the independent technology advisor, customizing tailor-made packages of third-party solutions for their clients’ technology shift. Alternatively, if this is the better fit, DMT can bring in their own, independent solutions to any modularity level the clients need.
Depending on the agreed processes and technology transformations, DMT supports clients around the globe in the supervision of the implementation phase to the required extend. Here we either take the role of pure external observation and execution control. Or, similar to step 3, roll out our own, sovereign services and solutions that the customer needs for his digital transformation. And as part of the consultancy piece, monitor external supplier implementations and internal organizational shifts.
Companies, also in the mining environment, often find it challenging, to overcome legacy structures and re-organize themselves. Many times, they underestimate the impact of digitalization on people, operations and processes. Long-standing staff in particular have to be prepared and trained for the challenges of digitization projects. In close cooperation with the Digital Academy of TÜV NORD GROUP, DMT hereto helps accessing corresponding development programs for mining company staff. Of similar importance to the human factor are operations and processes. They need decent preparation and thorough supervision throughout the implementation and by this bring the transformation to life.
If you are responsible for digitalization in your mining environment, we should talk. Let’s get your digital transformation happening.