Discover the key challenges mining companies are facing today to make the most of their data and how you could leverage it to its full potential.
The Russian mining industry is represented by large holdings, state corporations that deal with a huge amount of data. However, the industry has little awareness of the availability of information management products on the market and often tries to solve the problem by developing its own software.
Meanwhile, attempts to create complex integration solutions often do not lead to success due to the excessive scale of projects and the desire to “embrace the immense”. In addition, companies sometimes purchase a large number of software products to manage mining and geological information and are forced to integrate them. This wastes a lot of resources. Meanwhile, the amount of digital data is growing like an avalanche. Companies from a variety of industries around the world face similar challenges.
For data to be truly useful, you need to get it in the right place, at the right time, and in the right format. Shattered information prevents companies from creating valuable digital assets. Meanwhile, data can be of significant value. So, in capital construction, mechanical engineering and aircraft construction, archived data are stored and successfully used. For this purpose, information management systems (IMS) based on PLM technologies are used.
This raises a number of key challenges. Among them, managing heterogeneous information and providing authorized users with access to it, finding the interdependence of data and tracking. We need continuity in transferring data to process stakeholders, ensuring the quality of technical solutions, managing inconsistencies, continuous monitoring and control of KPIs.
Here are just a few of the challenges associated with information management in the mining industry:
- Key information may be unavailable, its unreliability can lead to incorrect decisions, and irrelevance can affect their efficiency and timeliness.
- Loss of information during its transfer between project stakeholders, during the transition of the project from stage to stage, lack of communication between the data created during design, construction and during operation.
- About 15% -30% of the time is spent searching and verifying the required information.
- Low level of integration of information and information systems. Information is stored in a non-machine-readable format or in various formats across multiple systems.
- A wide range of non-standardized IT tools is used, there is no consistent methodology to work with information contained in documents, drawings, 3D models, project implementation and work execution schedules, spreadsheets.
- There are no uniform standards for the provision and exchange of information between project participants, and the processes of exchange and information management are not formalized and controlled.
- Information flows and business processes are not linked into a single system. This eliminates the possibility of data sharing.
In capital construction, mechanical engineering, the concept of Product Data Management (PDM) is used for data management – product data management, and for process optimization, the technology of the Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) class is used – the life cycle of a product or product. Similar approaches are beginning to be introduced in the mining industry. Ideally, you need a global integration solution to streamline all data-handling processes.
Data and Process Management: An Integrated Platform
For this reason, attempts are being made to create a kind of unified system that would store large amounts of information in all formats. However, in practice, it is very difficult to implement such a solution. Nevertheless, we need standard formats that allow different systems to freely exchange mining and geological information, just as it is now done in capital construction through the IFC format.
Such formats are already being developed. The company Dassault Systemes is an active participant in relevant working groups, such as IFC formats (BuildingSmart) and OMF. And its 3DEXPERIENCE integration platform offers data management technology that addresses many of the challenges in the mining industry.
However, data management in itself is not yet the key to success in the implementation of corporate projects. It should be applied to real business processes. Otherwise, a huge amount of accumulated data will be useless. Therefore, the 3DEXPERIENCE platform includes powerful process control functionality.
Workflow and data model
The 3DEXPERIENCE is, among other things, a document management platform that manages mining and geological documentation. After all, one of the most important processes of engineering support for mining operations is the release of mandatory documentation and its approval. But in a geographically distributed company, this task can be stretched over time and lead to serious errors.
The 3DEXPERIENCE not only simplifies the work with documents and contributes to the digitalization of this process. Its concept provides for the transition from working with documents to working with data. It is for this purpose that a data model is being built that allows you to structure, systematize, aggregate and analyze data. For example, by aggregating data on explosive blocks, you can know the volume of stocks ready for extraction, and this data is available to all users of the platform. They do not need specialized software or reports in EXCEL for this.
The data model makes it possible to connect objects with each other, for example, horizons and mine operations in it. At the same time, the platform allows you to manage data about such objects, their life cycle, versions, related documents, and access rights. Full-text search tools help you search for any document or data. To manage the processes there is a function of coordination, assignment and tracking of tasks. Also, project management tools are implemented, and they are associated with the rest of the data model elements (including objects, documents, personnel, requirements, incidents).
Note that getting up-to-date analytical information becomes possible when moving from files to data. The automated process of collecting information and transforming it into structured data creates a good base for analytics. The user can always be sure that analytical reports reflect the real state of affairs in the company, and analytical reporting software gets access to the digital asset and can work at full capacity.
Interaction tools, for example, the ability to exchange instant messages in relation to a specific object (task, incident, document, …) and the built-in social network, allow to reduce the approval time. Thus, the 3DEXPERIENCE can solve the problems of knowledge management, data and ensure the interaction of people within the company. These technologies and concepts are gradually moving from the engineering industry to the mining industry.
Implementing an IMS on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform in mining companies is the first, mandatory step towards creating a digital twin, turning disparate data into a centralized, manageable digital asset. This is a promising technology that contributes to the sustainable development of the company.
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