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Increasing demand and benefits of mobile field apps in mining

The paradigm shift

The mining industry is undergoing tremendous change as the costs and challenges associated with exploration and exploitation of ore bodies increases.  An ever-growing demand for legislative compliance, fulfilment of good corporate governance, is also adding to the challenges and change across the industry.  Stakeholders are expecting improvements in productivity and overall mining efficiency. These expectations are now top priority directives in both the boardroom and in the field. The above external factors have motivated mines to adopt newer technology, digitalise their systems to adapt to these challenges and to realise more efficient, more effective management of all their mining operations.

Adopting new technology in the industry, however, is no easy matter.  Challenges arise, due to the very nature of mining, with the inherent physical change of infrastructure and ore bodies that occur during the life cycle of a mine. Therefore, besides robust infrastructure to support critical daily operations, equally important is infrastructure that can provide extensibility and flexibility as change occurs, ensuring continuity and maintaining operational efficiencies.

To achieve efficient performance relies on access to accurate data, anywhere, anytime, that encompasses all resource activities on the mine.  There are various mining stakeholders currently researching and developing mobile hardware technology to assist with such an optimal solution with headway made in all these areas.  Concurrent to this and gaining rapid favour with Mining IT departments are online applications and data storage in the ‘Cloud’.

Mines adopting mobility

To fulfil efficiency of operations and improve productivity, implementation of robust, flexible mining infrastructure and equipment, with the latest mobile and software technology, is imperative.  With the recent advent of reliable mobile technology, historical difficulties faced with the use of sensitive mobile equipment in harsh mining environments, leading to frequent equipment failure, as well as the often trying challenges with the setup of supporting infrastructure,  are being removed.  This has led to an unprecedented demand from mines to invest in mobile technology for the benefit of their mining operations

This adoption of mobile technology is providing tangible and intangible benefits across many areas of mining.  These include reduced risk, improved organisational integration, enhanced inter-department communication, accurate real-time data access for empowered operational management, a 360-degree view of operations for relevant stakeholders that makes for exciting times ahead!

Various internal and external stakeholders, across the mining value chain, can now have access to platforms that are fit for purpose and job role specific. Software companies are able to develop systems around the business and the users that acutely addresses each end user’s operational concerns layered on top of a reliable, mobile hardware platform.

One of those software companies is ourselves, Reactore Solutions.  Our product Reactore has been developed over the past four years, in conjunction with miners, across the mining hierarchy. Working closely with mine management, operators, supervisors and various other mining job roles, in a live mining environment, has made our product mine user-centric, resilient and addresses the real-world challenges faced by miners today.   Reactore clients have shown much excitement with Reactore and have embraced the mobile application solution, controlling and monitoring all their operations like never before.

Why this embracement?  Reactore’s mobile applications extend the power of the Reactore mining software solution from back office into the hands of the field worker.  The user-friendly Reactore applications can be used in multiple operational and business silos, were on-site information gathering, feedback and facilitation of critical information delivery to personnel in the field are needed. The mobile applications can be implemented independently, as standalone application tools, or form part of an overall integrated solution that includes legacy applications and hardware systems. Reactore’s mobile platform assists organisations with scalability and stability by operating securely, across all devices and heterogeneous networks, whilst allowing systems to work both online and offline.  Functional benefits include

Functional benefits of mobility at mines

  1. Personnel, asset and activity tracking
  2. Beneficiation sample management and real-time reporting
  3. Production performance monitoring and reporting
  4. Material handling and delivery management
  5. Ore quality inspection, audit and reporting
  6. Production activity coordination and reporting by responsible personnel
  7. Dedicated applications for various job roles across mining operations
  8. Real-time tracking of ore transportation

Our mobile applications support customisation according to the unique requirements of a mine, providing a seamless flow of information, between systems and into the field, or a customers’ mobile device, depending on the application.  Empowering the workforce with mobile computing is affording mines the means to create an automated, consistent workflow of processes, assisting management to optimise operations.  Additionally, implementing mobile technology, to ‘join the dots’, between systems and end users are reaping multifold benefits for all involved stakeholders including

  1. Improved communication between personnel
  2. Better compliance
  3. Improved resourcing due to better understanding of work
  4. Accurate calculation of time and cost consumed
  5. Effective planning and execution
  6. Updated field documents

All the above has been contributing towards increased productivity, reduced cost, lowered cost per ton, mitigated risk and improved safety with a rapid return on investment.

 

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