Multinational company Honeywell International published a whitepaper presenting a series of arguments as to why it is important for miners to avoid resisting technological change.
In the firm’s view, digital technologies can make mines smarter, more sustainable, more efficient in terms of operating costs and safer. The latter is a point of particular importance as, according to Honeywell, tech solutions can help eliminate fatalities and injuries by enabling remote monitoring, process and worker safety and allowing for autonomy by moving the worker away from hazardous locations.
The whitepaper states that, despite the benefits of going digital, many miners are resistant to the change as they see its implementation as an expensive and time-consuming process.
One of the key issues that miners have to deal with is the realization that technology requires moving away from point solutions or proofs-of-concept.
“Many companies have started with proofs-of-concept in specific parts of the business to identify the value that can be created in their business,” the report states. “Often, this is not scalable across the business and leads to expensive projects to enable adoption of these technologies.”
Honeywell’s paper says that another hurdle in technological adoption is that when miners look for technology that can be implemented, the products are often not open and extensible. They also do not come with configurable pre-built knowledge that allows companies to eliminate the need for customizations for their own operations.
Finally, user adoption may see a steep learning curve and getting their workforce to realize value from these new technologies may be difficult for some.
Despite these challenges, in Honeywell’s view, there is no turning back when it comes to moving towards a 21st-century mining industry. Thus, solutions need to be implemented.
The firm’s experts believe that to achieve efficiencies through an integrated view across the mining company, siloed operating systems must be integrated. This means that companies have to move away from having several industry-specific solutions at each site.
At the same time, enterprise complexity must be overcome. This entails resolving the need to continuously implement custom projects that require constant upkeep to stay modern.
Finally, manual control must be replaced with higher autonomy. “Human decision-making can’t keep up with the pace of business. Having manual processes and controls also results in a lost opportunity to realize value,” the document reads.
According to Honeywell, one of the keys to maximizing returns from digital technologies lies in the ability of mining companies to quickly choose the right technologies that can scale across the enterprise and make necessary changes in their operations.
This means that miners need to do their homework and study what elements will best fit their needs, that is, industry-specific solutions by themselves or combined with data and analytics capabilities, or platforms for Industrial Internet of Things services or added functionality to existing platforms like machine learning, advanced queries and bespoke visualization.
“Having rich domain expertise, superior software capabilities and the ability to quickly scale up across the enterprise while transforming each process will meet the challenges of executives in the industry who are seeking to achieve a fast return on their investment,” the whitepaper states.