Webinar – Life beyond paper and spreadsheets

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This is Mipac’s webinar “Life beyond paper and spreadsheets”, discussing the importance of digitisation in the MMM industry. The webinar was hosted by Sam Gapic.

Webinar transcript

Hi, everyone. Good morning. Good afternoon. Good evening to wherever you dialling in from. Welcome to the first webinar of the year from Mipac. We really appreciate your time in joining us. I know there are a few people from the U.K., quite a few people from Africa and people from Australia, Asia-Pacific and Canada. So we have quite a few people all over the globe for this webinar. So really appreciate your time and hopefully you’ll find the next 20 to 30 minutes very useful. Before we begin, I would first like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land here in Australia and pay respect to the elders past and present. 

So what is this webinar about? Well, it’s like beyond paper and spreadsheets. How plant digitalization can give you operators superpowers.

Now, I was having a chat to a colleague of mine, the marketing manager, Tracey, who gave me a few indicators of what the superpowers word means and how it can be utilized in this, I guess in the digitized world, in a digitized mining world, it’s a sense where operators have or companies have marginal performances, marginal marginally better performances versus operators that do not have the right software and access to do the jobs that are required to do.

Let me say that again. The plants that have the right access to the right software can and which are utilized in the right manner can be used as superpowers because they’ll perform much better than plants that do not use digitized solutions. So that’s where the superpower comes from. And if you keep in mind the super powers, I’m going to bring it back later and you’ll see why.

Some of you may think the superpowers can be utilized from, I guess, an Avengers reference. Tony Stark, who is very much all about innovation and getting ahead of the competitors. So if some people can remember that reference, that’s something to remember. 

This is myself, I just decided to put a few pictures of my colleagues, here at Mipac, doing work at different sites. One is I think in a control room and I’m not too sure what mine site the picture on the left is, but yeah, this is some of my colleagues doing work overseas. 

What can you expect from this webinar?

  • An introduction to Mipac, 
  • questions around digitalization, the importance of digitalization in the industry, and I guess the success story of digitalisation and where Mipac has implemented this. 
  • And how can software solutions help your company and start your digitalization journey. 

So we will cover this in, in this presentation. 

where Mipac works

So we will cover this in, in this presentation. 

For those of you who’ve never heard of Mipac, Mipac has been around for 26 years now. Delivered over 650 projects in 50 plus countries. We have over 100 clients and I think we reached as of last week, 147 employees and growing I think. We are on the lookout for at least ten if you go to the careers website. So yeah, we are 100% growing. We design, deploy, and integrated infrastructure monitoring and optimization systems for the global mining, energy, utilities and manufacturing sectors.

We have a leading reputation in metal and minerals with a long history diagnosing and designing and delivering high-quality, intelligent solutions that drive sustainable performance of your assets and operations.

Where do we operate? All over the globe. A sentiment of that is the number of people attending this webinar from all over all over the globe. We have several obviously operations and projects in Australia, Asia, Europe, North America.

We’ve actually got quite a few more in Africa versus what you see on that visual and projects which have picked up in the past 6 to 12 months. 

First of all, I guess would like to ask you a few questions. I feel free to please put your answers into the chat. My colleague Sarah is kindly getting gathering all the numbers if you do put put the numbers in the chart. 

How many mines have completed at least one digital implementation? What are your thoughts on this? And it’s a very important question because there’s been talk about digital implementation for quite a few years. I guess now this will be a good indication of what you think, how many have actually gone down this route.

So I’ll just give you a few seconds if you can think about it and maybe formally announce in your head or even better to put a number in the chat. The answer is 10%, so only 10% of mine have at least completed one digital implementation. Now that is quite interesting considering how many years this digital implementation or this catchphrase has been has been spoken about in the industry. So I guess it is slow moving and this 10% is the number is an indication of how slow we’re moving down that route. 

The other question is how much can mining throughput increase as a result of digital transformation? What are your thoughts? What percentage do you think the impact of digital transformation has? 10 to 20%. So that is a massive, massive percentage in terms of throughput. A lot of you’ve, you know, superintendents, managers, operators, all of you know, the impact and significance of even 1%. This is 10 to 20%, so that is definitely a massive increase in the throughput. 

Please feel free, by the way, to put any questions in the chat and we’ll get to them at the end of the presentation. So if you think of any questions, just check them in the chat and towards the end of the presentation I’ll answer as many as possible. 

The third question: how many mining operations have leveraged customizable digital tools? 25%. So yes, we are making progress, but are we at the percentage progress that we should be in the year 2023? I guess we will see. But maybe your mining companies know what targets you have in place. But yeah, this is what we set out as just as an average.

Now you might ask the question what is the importance of digitalization in the mineral processing industry? Well, let’s first find what is digital transformation. In the mining industry it is the integration of digital technology into all areas of mining company optimization, optimizing operations and value delivery. I recently completed a paper actually and highlighted some of the different digital technologies we have across the value chain. So from exploration right through to sales and marketing operations, mining. So several technologies have been implemented. I guess there’s obviously room to implement more.

82% of the mining industry is definitely willing to increase its investments in digital technology in the coming years. I was at the World Mining Conference conference two weeks ago and one of the big bosses of Newcrest spoke about the importance of digital technology from an ESG perspective and how the industry really needs to take on the street or technology and actually take action. As I said, there’s been, or she was mentioning, there’s been a lot of talk, but it’s time to actually take action and really go down this route. Many sites have been undergoing a digital transformation process for a year. You know how according to a 2021 digital acceleration index, the mining sector is very much behind, versus the automotive or chemical.

So, again, the theme, as I said, has that we are lacking in terms of our advancements in taking up this transformation. Yes, there are solutions out there. It’s about non-operators and operations and making decisions to really go down this route and actually invest in these technologies.

the benefits of digital transformation

What are some of the benefits of going on a digital transformation?

1. From a mine safety perspective, it 100% has a big difference. Again, as years go by, there are tighter controls, tighter legislations. So certainly this is one area where digital transformation can meet some of these requirements from the government and from a mining safety perspective.

2. Costing. Again, I know probably a lot of people don’t want to hear about high inflation and, you know, the interest rates rising. So every mining operation is the first thing that comes to mind is how can they save costs and this is one way to go about it.

3. Improve production. Again, there’s a lot of demand, I think, again at the World Mining Conference there is going to be a, for example, copper demand 400% increase in the next ten years, increasing demand for copper that’s just for copper is what the Newcrest boss was mentioning. Now there are obviously several other demands for the likes of lithium and cobalt and gold. So again, improved production and this is one way to go about it.

4. Helping the team anticipate and deal with mine failures. I’m sure a lot of you on the call understand what mine failures means and the cost it means to the business and how unhappy it makes not only the shareholders, but obviously the employees and the team working around from a morale perspective. 

5. Track and maintain mine performance in real-time. So the key word there is real-time. So making decisions as soon as possible because any second minute, any time that you lose can be costly. And I’m sure you guys have experienced this in your mining careers. 

6. Reduced environmental impacts through digitization. Again, massive, massive push from the government and the world in general on reducing the carbon footprint and taking care of the environment. And one of these key ways to going about this is through digital transformation.

And you may ask how can you actually start the digital transformation? Where do we start? First of all, strategize. Now consider your company’s strategy. Obviously you don’t want to go and look for the A to Z of all the digital solutions, strategize and find out what’s important to your business and where you can start.

There are several companies that I’ve spoken to, I know in the past six months we have hired digital technology leaders or business improvement employees who are particularly there in the company to look at things such as digital solutions.

Outline some of your goals. So what growth are actually looking to achieve and how can you achieve some of its goals? What impact do digital solutions have in achieving some of your goals? 

Support changes and innovate. So again, back to that Tony Stark reference that I made earlier from Avengers – all about innovation. How can you be ahead of your competitors in constantly changing markets, it’s about how can you be ahead of the game? And again, a lot of employees, even when looking for employment, one of the key selling factors is how innovative are your mining companies. So that’s really key selling factor to bring employees on board.

Technological innovation. So I guess the big question here is to ensure your plant can increase production by implementing digital systems. But bear in mind, knowing that these systems may have a high initial cost, the long-term goals and consequences of having these are much more, you save much more money rather than the initial cost that you have to put them. An example will be given in the next few slides of where this has come into fruition. 

Avoid fatigue. So a lot of companies again, it potentially relates to point one, a lot of companies they go on this digital route and they want to go to the A to Z or they want to put in the best technologies which take maybe six months to 12 months to implement. Again, just be careful as to what type of technologies you’re implementing and you know the time required in order to implement these. Because at the end of the day for the next 12 months if you are implementing technology and actually it never really comes to life, it, it doesn’t really the impact of the is won’t really be known. So it’s just about understanding the timeline that solutions require to be implemented. 

Here’s a case study that we have with Glencore for one of our solutions. 

What is the initial problem? Glencore was using an ERP system for the task management system. It was quite complicated. It was not usable for managing operator tasks and it was actually hard to train operators coming on board, particularly in the job shortage market at the moment. I know companies I spoke with someone from IMG, one of the managers, and they said they’re losing two operators per week. I can imagine if you’re trying to bring in two new operators constantly having to train employees in a new system that is complicated. These are things that you have to consider in the current market. 

Some of the routine tasks that they had were okay. They were irregular tasks, and they were missing some of these irregular tasks. So these ad hoc tasks were being missed. And obviously, that caused quite a bit of drama.

Lack of responsibility. So the employees, the managers, right through the managers right through the operators. There was no responsibility, there was no accountability, visibility was not there. People were unsure what tasks were complete, and when were they complete. It was hard to actually locate any documents of when the tasks were complete and what feedback was required. So it all continued this responsibility, accountability and visibility.

So what is the result of all that? It disrupted the production, downtime and additional costs and as I said earlier, the team on this webinar knows exactly what small disruption in production means from cost perspective. 

So they wanted a solution that would spread the workload so the same crew were not always doing particular tasks.

So what typically happens is so they had crew A and crew B, for example, and crew A had 70 odd tasks and crew B had 50 tasks and crew C had 20 tasks. So crew A and crew B were complaining that crew C only has 20. So in a sense they wanted to even this out. They wanted a system that can ensure that they’re able to visualize the number of tasks quite easily.

So they wanted a solution that ensures that the task management list is quite coherent. So everyone manages the same tasks in a consistent manner. They want to be able to find a solution that can they can attach photos, see if there’s any leakages or breakages, or they can take a photo immediately and upload it to the system. And so this was visually available to the superintendents or supervisors so they can give feedback immediately. They wanted a system that works around their continuous rosters and life cycles. So like shift cycles. So you have four, three rosters, eight, six rosters, 20, 10 rosters. So they wanted a system that can accommodate the different rosters. And again ultimately improve the transparency and reporting across the operation and give the operators a sense of purpose and recognition. Because by them completing tasks, by visually seeing their completed tasks, they can be recognized for good performance. 

So what do they do to find the solution? They look across market for quite a few solutions. They ultimately approached Mipac, who then, the team of software developers together with Mipac developed a solution called TCard.

What value has Glencore gained from TCard? 

  • So it saved $250,000 in reduced downtime, minimum. 
  • They managed to see all tasks 24/7 at all times at whatever shift, at the same time as the shift was completed. 
  • They were able to be introduced specific interval-led tasks. So as mentioned, you know, these ad hoc tasks, I’m sure a lot of you have on-site, they were able to implement that and actually have that all documented.
  • They were able to increase the transparency, the operators were able to raise work orders and maintenance issues were addressed almost immediately, not being lost and gone unnoticed. 
  • The culture in the team, which again extremely important, the qualitative benefit, the culture and the morale of the team really, really improved
  •  4000 operation plus a completed month. That’s quite a quite a massive amount.
  • And a full time planner was not actually required. So again, $250,000, as you can see from the top point. But again, that’s just minimum because a full-time planner was also not required for this, which is obviously, from a pay and all that. So that obviously adds from a customer perspective. 

As mentioned, the solution was TCard. It’s a solution that enhanced stability through teamwork and structured insight. And just to give an idea of how what TCard is and how it works is a quick video. I think it’s about one minute. I’m sure you’ll find it useful.

[Video Dialogue]

TCard is a secure cloud based task management system created specifically for industrial plant operations. TCard can be quickly configured to match your plant and operating cycles and complement existing asset management systems. Deployed in days, TCard is cost-effective to set up and maintain. A powerful and intuitive tool, TCard utilizes a system of templates to standardize and automate your tasks based on your shift cycles, rosters and shutdowns. TCard is simple to learn. In each plant area, your operations team view their tasks prioritized and ready to action. It takes one click for operators to see your standard work procedure, text, photos, permits and safety requirements. You see the real time status across all plant areas. As you receive feedback, including incomplete tasks, you can make adjustments that are reflected through the system. TCard supported you and your team to complete today’s operating tasks while balancing safety, production and availability. 

[End video dialogue]

Thank you very much. So that was TCard.

MPA Logsheets webinar slide

One of our other digital solutions applications is MPA Logsheets. So these are our digital worksheets.

So what they are, they provide native manual data entry besides real-time automated production data from other sources. So you can compare variables. So it’s a digitized logsheet. As you can tell. This is an example of how it looks. 

MPA Logsheets Grid Report Logsheet

So everyone has their, the same hourly checks or every two hour checks, and you have data points which are actually drawn automatically, but also you need to actually take down a few data points. For example, you know, discharge density is slightly lower density. So instead of actually writing it on a manual paper, then going to the control room and then transferring, this is digitized and it’s connected to a historian. So you have access to analysis in real-time.

Again, an example of how this analysis looks. As you can see, the SAG Mil constraints of 88%, this was determined in real time. So as you put it in the digital logsheet, it was able to determine that there’s a constraint.

What this logsheet is also able to do is has some conditional formatting. So you can see that value in red. Sometimes people make mistakes in manual log sheets, but the digitized version will be able to pick up some of these mistakes.

One of the other solutions is Digital TARP.

So what is TARP? It is a Trigger Action Response Plan. So I know a lot of operators and companies or companies have response plans, manual response plans or trigger action response plans on the SharePoint. But what this is, is actually a digitized version of it. Why is this important? Regulations again, are becoming much more tight. I know in Australia the government actually wants to see robust TARPs in place; this is exactly one way to go about doing it.


So how does it work? A Teams message, or a WhatsApp message, depending on what you use on site is sent when there’s a criticality. So in this case, from this visual, you can see there was a criticality and it’s immediately sent to you to your WhatsApp. You click on the link and you’re immediately onto the screen here. What this does is the screen allows you to see what’s been done by the operators. And as you can see, operators, adjusted SPs, you know, whether Bobby and Jane were notified, you know, what the laboratory technicians did or what the plant metallurgist did. So this is all accessible. So you know what actions were done and it’s recorded. It’s all documented and accessible in real-time. So this is just an example of how the TARP looks.

You also have a history of TARPs. Now, why is the history of TARPs important? Because you can go back in time and determine, well, we’ve been having the same problem every single time. So what was done in the past? How how can we solve this? Additionally, why does this keep happening? Is it a maintenance issue? You know, again, you’ll have a history of this which currently may not be as easily accessible.

So again, that was pretty much all the solutions for the webinar, I wanted to make it short and sweet.


Thank you very much, I really appreciate your time.

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