Value chain

Schneider Electric: How to optimize the mining value chain with digitally integrated power and process operations

There is little the mining, minerals and metals industry can do about many factors that often compress cash flow. Dynamics such as commodity prices, utility energy costs, labor rates, and geopolitical events are all random variables that can impact company value.

However, with advanced digital capabilities, mining organizations can better control how they react and adapt to the business challenges and market volatility they all face. Things like CapEx and OpEx, energy consumption, labor productivity, supply chain management, and more can be actively managed and improved with the right tools.

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The topic of optimizing the mining value chain by leveraging the synergies of convergent operations was recently explored in depth by industry experts at a dynamic innovation conference entitled “Rethink Mining with Digitally Integrated Power and Process”. Some of the key takeaways from the session are asked and answered below:

Q. What are the current drivers for mining companies to consider converging their operations to increase business value?

A. Thanks to advances in technology and digitalization, mining companies now have access to far more potentially valuable data than ever before. To drive predictable results and turn insights into business advantage, organizations must maximize their investment in digitization by integrating and digitizing their operations so that data-driven insights can be shared and made actionable across the chain. of mining value. The main challenges facing MMM companies today even go beyond digitization and full digital transformation. Therefore, such a paradigm shift in a digitized operating model should take into account:

  1. Responsiveness of the value chain – today’s mining market is much more volatile, and companies need to be able to quickly scale up or down, change optimization goals, and manage the entire mining chain as one entity , a much more difficult task when organizations make decisions from departmental silos.
  2. CapEx & OpEx Constraints – Optimizing recurring costs is key to improving financial performance, especially maintenance expenses, which represent a substantial percentage of the total operating costs of many mines.
  3. Workforce change – 75% of the workforce will be millennials by 2025, and they are reshaping the world of work. Tech-savvy, connected and more collaborative than the old ones, companies looking to engage and retain new talent need to consider new ways of working and call for considering a comprehensive digital transformation journey.
  4. Culture of innovation – although digitalization has taken place and technological change is only accelerating, many business leaders still lack a digitalization plan to leverage and combine their investments in digital technology with increased profitability through grassroots innovation.
  5. Business license – Obtaining a social license is essential to the growth of the mining industry. Activities such as safety initiatives, sustainability reporting, corporate citizenship, and environmental improvement efforts, among others, need to be made more visible and managed across the organization.

Q. What are the potential benefits of convergent operations for mining companies?

A. In an increasingly complex and unpredictable environment, integrating operations and functions is about enabling everyone in an organization to better use data and information to be able to make decisions. that optimize the productive value chain. Developing the agility to respond effectively to internal and external events is key to transforming any mining business into one that can proactively mitigate risk and gain competitive advantage.

Q. How can an integrated operations center capitalize on the benefits of convergence and leverage new digital technologies to improve results?

A. An Integrated Operations Center (IOC) is an updated version of the old control room, “digitally transformed” for today’s mining operations. It can be designed to offer a new way of working, looking at the whole operation rather than focusing on separate (often siloed) functional areas. It can be a consolidated, centralized hub to present unified information from multiple locations and any stage of the value chain. A properly configured IOC promotes collaboration across functional teams, promotes operational benchmarking and communication of best practices through data sharing, and increases enterprise-wide transparency.

Q. Why is process automation and power system data integrated into an IOC, which is a game-changer for the MMM industry?

A. Due to natural interdependencies and the advent of new digital technologies, electrical and process automation systems are now impossible to decouple. Merging data from both systems in one place is one of the best ways to dramatically improve the productivity, reliability and safety of mining processes and plant assets. And a CIO’s integrated, collaborative digital environment is an effective operating environment for staff to convert insights into actionable innovation. Combining energy management capabilities with existing automation tools offers a range of substantial benefits, including:

  • Reduced asset maintenance costs

  • Reduced project risk

  • Improved transparency, interoperability and business resiliency

  • Improved energy efficiency, resource use and sustainability

  • Increase process visibility

  • Lower cost per ton

Q. How can mining companies leverage local innovation within their business using IOC?

A. Mining companies can leverage their increasingly digitally savvy workforce to cultivate a more innovative culture across their business by democratizing their data and information across the chain. valuable. This can be achieved by making data easily and securely accessible for experimentation and then deploying these proven innovations across the enterprise via an IOC.

Q. What kind of improvements can mining operations expect?

A. The most effective IOC deployments involve ensuring that all employees are versatile and embrace cross-departmental collaboration to improve productivity. With the right tools and training in place to fully optimize an integrated network, results from the Schneider Electric project show that mining companies can reap substantial benefits, including:

  • 20% improved process performance
  • Until 30% reduced maintenance costs

  • Until 11% improved throughput

To learn more from the experts on how digitally integrated power and processes and an IOC can help MMM companies transform their operations, watch the “Rethinking Mining with Power and Processes” innovation conference. digitally integrated processes” today.