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News and Innovation from Oracle UK and Ireland

  • August 3, 2020

Eliminating uncertainty and variability in mining operations

Guest Author

By Nick Harrison, Leading enterprises in Finance and Supply Chain transformation, Oracle UK and Ireland

Read times: five minutes

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How mining businesses can reduce complexity and increase operational efficiency

The mining industry has seen significant disruption as a result of COVID-19 with temporary government mandated lockdowns impacting core mining operations. This has placed an even greater emphasis from a strategic planning perspective on managing uncertainty.

Forecasts from PWC indicate that the world’s top 40 miners could see as much as a 6% drop in EBITDA for 2020. With so much ongoing disruption, mining companies have an opportunity during the current slowdown to invest in key systems and identify ways to improve efficiency.

Oracle is already taking a lead in this regard and our intelligent, enterprise-grade applications are trusted by mining firms to cut costs, improve business agility and enable digital tools to help companies remain agile and efficient even in the face of continued uncertainty in global markets.

So, what should be at the top of miners’ priority lists as they look to rebound in the second half of 2020 and beyond?

In this blog we’ll look at some of the core areas of focus for businesses looking to remove uncertainty in operations, including:

  • How to approach immediate COVID-19 related challenges and plan for a return to work
  • Why accelerating digital transformation now is key to long term growth in the future
  • Which technology and digital tools can best position businesses to flourish in the “new normal”
  • How a trusted digital partner can help bring it all together to drive more sustainable growth

Approaching the immediate challenges of developing a post pandemic return to work strategy

Health and safety is already an area of huge focus within the mining sector and post pandemic, there is likely to be an even greater emphasis on ensuring employee safety.

The key to safeguarding the well-being of workers across the entire business is leveraging technology that helps improve safety.

By shifting to remote operating centres and leveraging tech like robotics, drones and automation, companies can reduce the need for onsite personnel.

Cloud computing can help teams collaborate more closely, even while working remotely, and makes sharing data insights and analysis on changing conditions easier and more intuitive, meaning greater visibility into operations.

A good example of cloud computing supporting remote team collaboration is Zoom, a business we’ve supported in connecting millions of workers around the globe across a diverse range of industries. We partnered with the firm to provide additional cloud capacity, scaling the company’s daily tally of meeting participants from 10 million to over 300 million.

Our enterprise grade applications and solutions are designed to help businesses leverage new technology and bring teams and decision makers together to innovate and improve operational efficiency. We see advantages and opportunities within the mining space to similarly help businesses become more agile and responsive even when facing significant change.

Wearable tech in the field is another area increasingly being relied upon by mining companies as they look for new ways to protect workers and is an area we’re also working hard in to drive change.

Smart helmets, goggles and wearables can relay data to remote operating centres, helping identify unsafe conditions, avoid injury and increase efficiency and our applications can help ingest and collect vast amounts of data from IoT enabled devices like these to significantly improve safety and visibility.

Digitisation offers huge potential for improving safety standards within the sector, a recent report by The World Economic Forum projected that it could help save over 1,000 lives and prevent more than 44,000 injuries by 2025.

By shifting to a cloud based operating model and solutions like those from Oracle, businesses in the mining space can start realising these benefits and advantages sooner.

Why accelerating digital transformation now is key to long term growth in the future

In order to maximise the potential of Industry 4.0 technology, businesses need to be able to generate, ingest and analyse huge volumes of data.

Research shows that data driven insights are becoming critical to long term success within the industry, improving both the efficiency and precision of mining operations, providing real-time insights for better decision making and offering key opportunities to rethink how different lines of the business collaborate.

Companies can use the current slowdown as a catalyst to turbo charge their digital transformation journey and reinvent the way they operate by modernising systems, moving toward a digital core and improving the way the business uses, shares and analyses data.

Real-time streaming data can identify asset and drill issues in the field to pre-empt potential breakdowns, minimising disruption and downtime. Predictive maintenance strategies can prolong asset lifecycles, improving performance and cutting costs too.

By generating broader data sets across the wider business, companies can increase the use of smart automation to improve efficiency, leverage machine learning algorithms to safety proof core operations and develop predictive analysis models to better understand potentially disruptive events on the horizon.

We’re already helping mining firms better leverage huge amounts of data to optimise operations. A simple example is our work with geographic information systems (GIS) with Oracle solutions allowing companies to collate, analyse and display huge volumes of geographic, geological and spatial data in new ways.

Visualising data outcomes like this helps businesses shift to a more proactive strategic model, providing greater context around key decisions while helping cut costs and enhance overall efficiency.

Which technology and digital tools can best position businesses to flourish in the “new normal”?

Remote working has already opened up new opportunities and increased collaboration across teams and key segments of the value chain.

Being forced to rely on tools like video conferencing and remote working apps has given companies food for thought from a strategic perspective.

Having been road tested and proven, new tech now provides C-suite leaders with an opportunity to reinvent the way work is done to help maximise operational efficiency.

Using real-time data insights to increase visibility into each step of the supply chain can help predict and track any disruptive change as it happens, IoT and sensor data in the field can provide clarity into asset performance and maintenance schedules while autonomous vehicles, drones and robotics can improve efficiency and help keep human workers safer.

We’re already helping businesses in other sectors maximise the potential of digital transformation to realise performance improvements across the supply chain. For example, our solutions have helped manufacturer Harbison Walker introduce automation across their manufacturing, shipping and receiving processes.

The result? The business can now promise orders in real-time without manual intervention and has improved both order and product fulfilment accuracy. We see similar advantages and opportunities for mining firms in leveraging our intelligent solutions to achieve performance improvements.

With the smart mining market expected to reach $20.31 billion by 2025, companies are now accelerating their digital transformation journeys to allow them to better leverage evolving tech like AI and ML algorithms to streamline operations and improve productivity while cutting costs even further.

Companies that fail to use the current slowdown as an opportunity to embrace new technology and ways of working could be left playing catch up, in fact 46% of mining executives already believe that digital transformation is the biggest factor driving innovation in the space.

How a trusted digital partner can help bring it all together to drive more sustainable growth

At Oracle we’re helping businesses in the mining sector to transform the way they do business, allowing them to innovate and become more agile in response to rapidly changing conditions.

Having a trusted digital partner that can provide the right cloud infrastructure, as well as intelligent cloud applications, is critical to responding quickly to evolving business challenges and driving more sustainable long-term growth.

At Oracle our scalable, best-in-class solutions can support your business in accelerating its digital transformation. With enterprise grade applications that integrate seamlessly with existing IT infrastructure, we can drive change fast, implementing new solutions in a matter of weeks to deliver immediate results.

To see how Oracle could help accelerate your digital transformation journey, visit our website or contact us for more information.

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