Are Virtual Teams the Future of the Natural Resources Industry?

Location does not matter much anymore when you can connect to anyone, at anytime, from anywhere. At a time when innovation is more important than ever in finding ways for businesses and the value chains that comprise them to become more efficient, knowledge is power, and experience and expertise are gold. To find and explore new ideas, connecting the best minds is key.

While time zones may not always be on everyone’s side, platforms built for the virtual world of collaboration knock even this barrier down by connecting people to the same source of knowledge and ideation tools. By creating virtual versions of a business, its operations, processes, and value chain, innovation teams can become puppet masters who share potential game-changing ideas with one another, which they can then validate, improve upon and prove before deploying them in the real one.

Virtual teams
Virtual teams find innovative ideas to improve businesses

Through the virtual world, these teams may imagine new types of modular equipment, drive them through an underground mine to see how well they will perform, and then look at production statistics, costs such as fuel burn to see what benefits can be derived. Because the virtual world never sleeps, this team could be made up of members from a corporate headquarters in London, a manufacturer in Japan, and mine personnel from a site in Chile.

With data from around an enterprise flowing into the platform, it forms a beating heart for the business, which can be used to enable leaders to respond rapidly to things such as shocks in the global economy. They will already have been able to test and find the right option to respond with, because they will have played with different scenarios.

Imagine what a business could do if it already knew how it would respond to a sudden rise in commodity demand in a way that would not decrease productivity and spike costs? It would have asked questions such as:

  • To rapidly scale up/down production, what changes would be required at specific mines (infrastructure, plant capacity/location, personnel, etc.) to best respond to this change?
  • What is the most economic way to implement the new plan?

A virtual team of experts could:

  • Be comprised of corporate strategic planners, operation’s decision-makers, planning engineers, and external consultants.
  • Leverage geological models, market data, logistics data, historical data, etc. to simulate different ramp up options to find them best one.
  • Roll plans out globally to operations through the platform.
  • Ensure execution excellence by tracking implementation and success measures.

Changes large and small to the business could also be explored by different virtual teams. ideas might involve new ways of processing, configuring sites – really, just about anything that can be imaged. Innovation teams might set goals such as boosting the productivity of global equipment fleets, finding ways to achieve, say a 2% improvement and then explore different ideas, simulating results in virtual sites.

A virtual team of experts made of a mining company and its manufacturer could:

  • Leverage data captured on the performance of truck equipment globally, including uptime, maintenance time, issues causing downtime, etc.
  • Examine patterns in the data.
  • Ask questions about changes in capacity, equipment utilization, routing, maintenance routines, etc.
  • Examine the cost/benefit of 3D part printing.
  • And a lot more.

Platforms that enable collaboration, leveraging data from real world operations to enable virtual versions of businesses are the future of industry. They area already unlocking a new era of creativity and problem solving by connecting the best minds in industry to one another. It is an exciting time for natural resources companies to be exploring innovation in their businesses, platforms and the virtual world open up new possibilities that less than a decade would have been hard to realize.

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On the

Mark Bese

Mark Bese

Industry Marketing Director at Dassault Systèmes
Mark Bese is Industry Marketing Director for Energy & Materials at Dassault Systèmes.