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News and Innovation from Oracle UK and Ireland

  • August 3, 2020

Reimagining key processes in planning for the new normal

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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A roadmap for how the mining sector can innovate, evolve and grow in the medium term

As the world continues to rebound from the disruption of the first half of 2020, business leaders are beginning to look at where the best opportunities for growth in the short to medium term lie. 

Part of understanding how to readjust to a new business landscape and thrive in an unknown “new normal” is identifying key areas that allow companies to reinvent the way they operate.

Within a mining context this is likely to centre on how best to use the slowdown to reimagine key processes that can accelerate a move toward the intelligent mine of the future.

At Oracle we’re already helping businesses identify areas for improvement with our enterprise grade, scalable applications helping to accelerate digital transformation journeys to deliver operational efficiency improvements and enhanced business agility.

In this blog we’ll look at some of the quick wins for businesses in the space as well as areas of critical strategic importance that companies can focus on in the second half of the year. We’ll cover:

  • Why ESG and sustainability criteria are likely to be a key driver of change
  • How leveraging increasing amounts of data can improve operational efficiency
  • What it takes to shift to a more predictive as opposed to reactive operating model

Why sustainability is likely to be a key driver of change

Even before the current pandemic, Environmental, Security and Governance (ESG) standards were an increasingly important part of the industry’s wider strategic approach. With growing pressure from activist shareholders, governments and fund managers, companies need a sustainability strategy that promotes real change.  

As both the global economy and localised economies that employ mine workers rebound, there will be intense focus on the way miners approach ESG standards. While the globe’s top 40 miners have pledged upwards of US$380m in relief funds, how they support and care for the areas in which they mine is now more important than ever.

Digital transformation and new technology are the key to unlocking a wide range of ESG challenges and can help mining companies significantly reduce emissions, improve water wastage and transform its societal footprint.  

At Oracle we have both the experience and technology to help businesses in the space meet even the most stringent ESG standards.

We’ve worked closely with companies across diverse sectors like the automotive industry where we helped Volvo enhance visibility into the provenance of their cobalt mining operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The business leverages the Oracle Blockchain Platform to authenticate every person, mining site and truck across the entire operation to gain better a contextual understanding of exactly where cobalt is extracted, who mined it and how it was transported. This highly granular level of detail allows the company to ensure that the minerals they use are sourced in the most ethical way possible.

The mining sector as a whole can do more to reduce its harmful emissions, learning to leverage innovations and strategies from other industries to ensure operations are more environmentally friendly. For example, Oracle partnered with Unilever to help the business cut their CO2 emissions and simplify transportation operations.

By leveraging Oracle’s single global multi-mode transportation management system, Unilever was able to reduce harmful emissions by 9%, remove 29 million KMs from their network and optimise everything from shipment weight to temperature control and equipment types.

Harmful emissions are another area of concern within an ESG context and The World Economic Forum estimates that full-scale digitisation of the industry would benefit the mining sector by $425 billion up to 2025 while reducing CO2 emissions by 610 million tonnes.

Building more collaborative local partnerships, enhancing sustainability initiatives, working with host communities and harnessing the power of innovation and new technology to modernise processes are crucial to achieving better ESG outcomes.

Big data analytics can help improve mining operation precision for greater efficiency while new sources of renewable energy such as wind, solar and advanced battery packs can make mining more environmentally friendly. Autonomous vehicles, drones and robotics can improve safety and help cut harmful emissions too.

Using data to analyse where water is lost through leakage or evaporation in hot climates and shifting towards recycling wastewater can also help in water stressed areas.

Data analysis on every aspect of the supply chain can help leaders deliver more sustainable, ethical supply chain processes which have a more positive impact on communities.

How leveraging increasing amounts of data can improve operational efficiency

With more and more IoT devices in the field, as well as sensors, wearables, drones, autonomous vehicles and other innovations, companies are ingesting a higher volume and velocity of data than ever before.

In order to truly unlock the power of these datasets however, businesses need to generate actionable insights from it. 

By shifting to the cloud and investing in strong, reliable digital architecture, companies in the space can use the data they generate across the supply chain to dramatically improve visibility and develop key insights into where operations can be made more efficient.

A good example of this is our work on geographic information systems (GIS) where Oracle solutions are helping businesses better collate, analyse and display massive volumes of geographic, geological and spatial data.

This means companies can now visualise huge data sets in new ways, removing the need for paper surveys and providing miners with the key geospatial data they need to inform real-time decisions in the field.

Supply chain metrics can also be analysed at a more granular level to isolate issues that slow operations, sensor data from the field can inform predictive maintenance strategies and site analysis and machine learning algorithms can help inform more precise dig locations for higher yields with less downtime.

Using data analytics more intelligently can also identify risk case scenarios much faster and from an ESG perspective means businesses can measure and track the environmental impact of operations, analyse provenance issues more closely and track, trace and better safeguard workers in the field. 

What it takes to shift to a more predictive operating model

Reimaging key processes in planning for the new normal and beyond requires miners to shift to a more predictive operating model to improve efficiency and reduce uncertainty.

In the past, reliance on purely historical data has created blind spots around black swan events which cause major disruption.

With an increasingly broad data set from a variety of IoT enabled devices and sensors, miners can now collect data insights from diggers, drill bits, transport trucks, pumps, wearables, drones and more.

This helps strategic planning by eliminating uncertainty and the next step in moving to an even more predictive model is leveraging AI, cognitive computing and real-time predictive data analytics to identify potential horizon-based risks and events.

Everything from weather data to geological rock analysis, political news and events and even social media conversation listening can be leveraged to provide increased context for situational strategic planning. 

This requires a cloud based solution and applications like Oracle’s that can bring everything together so that businesses in the space have the ability to ingest, analyse and share vast amounts of real-time data insights.

Accelerating digital transformation in the short term can help miners move towards the smart mine of the future, modernising key processes, improving strategic planning and maximising operational efficiency.

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

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