The Future of Mining is High-tech and Transformative
If there is one thing that everyone who works in the mining industry or observes it can agree on, it has traditionally been a technology-spending laggard in comparison to other industries such as automotive and aerospace. Spending within the industry on hi-tech solutions was just 1% of revenue in 2015. Most industries spend five to seven times that amount on IT. But, there is the good news for the industry which is radically seeking to reinvent productivity through innovation: this figure is expected to jump as high as 10% by 2020 according to a new “Future of Mining” survey by Mining Magazine and its sister publication, Mining Journal.
Where will mining companies invest? Jon Heiderman, natural resources assurance director with BDO, says: “We expect mining companies to increase discretionary spending on technology to protect assets, increase efficiency, and increase mines’ safety to align themselves with industry standards. Mining companies will need to catch up from previous years of lack of capital spent on IT.” The magazines’ survey found data and automation will be the main drivers of mobile asset management improvements.
In addition to the utilization of robots to do more work, and the use of other technologies that will improve fleet and plant efficiency, the survey found that the 76% of respondents expect that digital twin modeling, simulation and optimization will expand exponentially form where it is now. IoT was cited by 94% as a key area of investment, while 82% listed both 3D printing and AI/machine learning. Interestingly, 100% of those survey agreed that automation, cloud computing and predictive analytics were the future of the industry. Additionally, central data management was listed as key driver of asset management value.
Phil Hopwood, global mining leader from Deloitte, commented that many mining companies had already realized the value of tracking data on specific pieces of equipment. He believes that the real benefits will be derived when mining companies can unlock new insight from this data to improve operational decisions. Getting to this point will require that support processes for functions as diverse as supply, human resources, and finance be re-imagined.
Hopwood goes on to say, “Convergence of information technology and operational technology can further enable automation and digitization – allowing work to be moved to locations which can support a more diverse and inclusive workforce.”
It is clear to see that mining’s days of technologically being a step behind other industries are over. The “Future of Mining” survey concludes with a note on the workforce that will support the industry in the next few years, which will include robotics specialists, remote asset management technicians, data scientists, and programmers.
Watch Dassault Systèmes Vision for Mining Transformation video to discover how we are making the future of mining possible.