By DICK DeSTEFANO
Former Executive Director of SAMSSA
One of the most persistent questions asked by SAMSSA members is what products and services will be in demand in the short and long term. What are the trends and needs that will allow me to predict with some reasonable expectations what mining companies will invest in and how do I adjust my business to survive in one of the most demanding sectors to operate your business.
There are many opinions and observations and authorities on what is next in the mining industry and we have tried to capture these patterns from a forum of SAMSSA members and larger global suppliers who are continually monitoring the mining environment
In a recent review Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology suggested that the underlying activity remained stable at a high level although somewhat protracted decision-making among customers.
Epiroc said market interest and demand for the company’s “market leading” automation, information management and system integration, and connectivity and battery electric offerings were growing rapidly.
If you look at the real numbers on a yearly basis the implementation of these services has been slow and many cases extremely constrained. The older equipment is still at the core of mining activity but more activity is visible in adding more analytic tools.
The inability to change the culture in mining is prevalent and deters innovative investments.
We asked Roy Slack P.Eng President of CIM, The Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum and Director Cementation Americas to comment on the issue and he said,
“I find that right now the industry is more accepting of innovation, and I am hopeful it isn’t a trend but rather the new reality. People want change, but they don’t want to change. But change is happening. Safety, diversity, innovation and social responsibility are all high on the agenda of most mining companies large and small. The service and supply industry has a huge real role to play in developing, proving and implementing innovation within our industry and they need to embrace all of the above priorities while still remaining competitive on a global scale. The greatest challenge as an industry is how do we manage the cyclical nature of our industry and how do we become proactive than reactive.”
The future is digital and Shannon Katary, as Director of Marketing and Communications for Maestro Digital Mine and formally of CEMI has seen the impact of the new improved infrastructure from a global perspective. Shannon said; “Transforming the mining Industry into the Digital Era comes down to integrating digital technologies that provide real, critical data so that decisions and progress can be made in real time. The mining industry has embraced digital technology solutions and this momentum will continue to gain traction with the increasing need for mining companies to reduce costs and improve safety and become more productive.”
Data is currency. The real Increase in productivity comes from innovative mining digital thinkers/companies working with operating mines, which together, identify and integrate the right digital solution for the right situation and environment (surface or underground).
Finally, we asked Kirk Petroski President & CEO of Symboticware who has more than 10 years of experience providing a technology platform that provides access to open data enabling customers to embrace industry 4.0 to answer the question; What is the future of mining within an Industry 4.0 and is digital transformation the digital glue that will solidify the current cracks of uncertainty.?
Kirk said; “Access and availability to real- time data through digital technology is a great enabler for Industry 4.0. Open data through integrated systems and processes, when used effectively can support operational excellence initiatives. Specifically, with effective use of assets and asset reliability through real-time monitoring with a short feedback loop, where work flow can be adjusted dynamically and with Al systems to predict and optimize, the future is looking promising within disruptive times.”
All we need to see is a commitment by mining companies to embrace these solutions and work with suppliers in maintaining the innovative approaches that will change the way mining can be more productive.