mining Industry

SAP Mining Operations Execution System (MES), Critical for the Mining Industry

For many mining companies today, keeping up-to-date and leveraging the newest mining IT/OT technologies must be a high priority. The thought of digital transformation of the mine site along with the continuous or batch processing plant, and integrating technology into their operations may seem expensive but also daunting.  

With RTS, we start by looking at your business objectives to determine the mining execution system (MES) requirements and value roadmap. We, along with your field and processing performance Team, conduct brainstorming/blueprint sessions to develop the Digital Transformation roadmap to deliver on the business objectives. Mining is complex, from open-pit/underground operations, ore grading and movement, crushing, and processing plant dynamics to general overall safety.

For mining operations, an end-to-end MES could be used to shift your company culture towards one of continuous improvement, deliver digital transformation and actionable intelligence. These are the initial steps to creating the “Intelligent Mine”, and when we intimately connect the intelligent mine to the enterprise business system, we foster the potential of an “Intelligent Enterprise”.

How Can MES Software Optimize Mining Operations?

Your end customers are demanding greater traceability of metals especially for their more complex manufacturing processes and advanced materials. For example, high strength steel volume used in the automotive industry increases at the expense of reduced normal steel consumption.

In an asset intensive environment, unexpected downtime is very costly. But, not only does equipment break down, but cycle times can run longer, processing slowdown and human error is not uncommon. Without a well-oiled, data driven operation, a mining company cannot continue to outperform competitors.

Modernizing to more agile, information-driven systems help address mining performance issues and challenges, and put them on the path to success.

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To stay ahead of the curve, mining companies need a solution that will help their employees work smarter and more efficiently. As well, with long term experienced employees retiring at a torrid pace, how can we retain the knowledge? That’s where MES software comes into play.

SAP MES solutions provide the tools to help any mining team run operations safely, smoothly, strategically, while maximizing profitability. The ability to make quick, confident decisions in real-time is the key to staying competitive. This is impossible with traditional spreadsheet-based systems or siloed point solution approaches.

MES software can do more for mining companies than traditional management approaches. It has the ability to:

  • Provide real time visibility to production.
  • Foster continuous improvement and optimize your shop floor.
  • Identify issues or potential problems before they happen.
  • Deliver a holistic production data lake for AI/ML analytics.
  • Integrate easily with existing systems.
  • Empower employees with the data and insights to make mining smarter.
  • Remove non-value adding actions and anecdotal evidence of losses.
  • Build a reputation of trust and quality with the supplier base using auditable, quality data.

There are problems that companies face industry-wide, many of which can be remedied with an MES solution. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common issues mining faces to determine how MES software can help.

Problem 1: Production Costs Are Rising

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Mining companies are facing undeniable global economic uncertainty. The cost of energy is rising, new technologies such as electric and remote operated vehicles are increasing, mining safety as shafts go deeper, intelligent ventilation on demand systems, are all significant changes to existing infrastructure, along with global experienced labor shortages.

Energy costs are a significant contributor to opex and trending to get more expensive into the future. SAP Energy Management, as part of the MES delivers precise monitoring&targeting of your energy consumption with dynamic, regression set targets based on production volume. Thus, enabling to operate with minimal energy and GHG emissions.

When it comes to raw materials, ensuring the optimal ore grade to achieve the customers requirements is key. Having a dynamic map of ore grade and yield from the various site geolocations allows efficient processing to meet specifications.

In terms of labor, we have no choice but to do more with less. We must empower staff with sharp tools that help get the job done quickly and right the first time. As well we need to provide operators with detailed workflows, prescriptive insights and data driven dashboards supporting decisions.

An MES solution, fulfilling your mining business objectives, can quickly and easily analyze performance and trends based on shifts, crews, individuals, materials, equipment and processes to drive operational improvements.

The right MES software can identify opportunities for improvement when it comes to performance, product innovation, as well as bottlenecks. With this technology, mining is able to analyze detailed production costs relative to targets to better gauge overall cost and profit analysis.

With MES software, end-to-end real-time yield tracking is more accessible. This helps to improve the overall plan attainment.

Problem 2: Integrating Technology Comes With a Steep Learning Curve

Adopting technology can be a challenge for many companies, not everyone has the tech-savvy resources, at times the willingness to change needs to be overcome.

How are mining companies supposed to keep up with the sweeping change?

Selecting an SAP MII, ME or DMC solution that is tightly integrated with the SAP business system to achieve an Intelligent Enterprise. Mining organizations need an MES solution that can not only fit into their current processes but improve them.

MES delivers features that help companies work smarter, not harder.

The SAP MES solution allows the following easily:

  • React to problems and implement new solutions faster.
  • Drive continuous improvement company-wide.
  • Measure factors like downtime, labor, plan attainment.
  • With SAP’s highly flexible solution companies can remove disparate band-aid solutions for a more efficient and holistic operation.
  • Gain transparency across the company and multiple mine sites.

SAP ME or DMC provides complete role-specific views and offers multiple languages for its users. Also, there’s no coding or programming required; it’s a complete out-of-the-box solution.

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Embracing Technology Will Ensure Survival

For most mining organizations, there’s an existing mentality that integrating technology into business is complicated and invasive, SAP MES delivers high integration capabilities that enable to NOT “rip and replace” but migrate into the operational landscape in a paced value add controlled fashion.

The goal of adding software to your operations is to increase margin by producing more via reducing production anomalies and by reducing costs. Though MES initially comes at an additional cost, the return on this investment is going to benefit the business in the long-term and add value to the bottom line. Being able to measure a tangible return is what sets up a company up for lasting success.

Adding technology to field operations and process area is only as complicated as the company makes it. Start by rolling out high value point solutions, like Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), or real time visibility to production key performance indicators via Andon boards. Increasing operational awareness key performance indicators, uplifts performance. Once that becomes a natural part of your operation, more can be added to increase your efficiency.

Digitally Transform and Optimize Your Mining Operations

Supercharge your continuous improvement program by gaining increased visibility, proactive alerts and tighter control over your operations.  Real time, high-fidelity datapoints from every part of your mining operation, builds the “data lake foundation”, allowing analytics to drive accurate information supporting good business decisions for every step of production.

Easy access to this comprehensive information (you can even ask Apple SIRI for your real- time KPI info) allows you to quickly identify substandard performance and losses, measure metrics such as plan attainment and overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) KPI’s to boost efficiency across the operation. Thus, accelerating continuous improvement in your facility.

Quality Control Management

Traditional methods, because of their lack of control and consistency compared to more advanced technology, leave room for mis-interpretation and human error when it comes to quality control.

How can MES software help with quality control?

This technology eliminates error by:

  • Real time flagging, tracking and confirming QA checkpoints.
  • Immediate PASS/FAIL on checkpoints to ensure quality is met.
  • SPC trending of critical parameters.
  • Alerting the right team or person if something needs attention.
  • Eliminating falsification, delayed data reporting and data manipulation.
  • Regular checks into operator workflows to remove the reliance on human watch and error.

MES software is built to improve mining performance by providing accurate data, real-time alerts, and more transparency between process, employees and teams. Mining companies can’t afford to slip up on quality control and MES software minimizes the effort without compromising the diligence.

De Beers Use Case

The real-time visibility into our plant systems and production status is a critical benefit. We are continuosly improving energy efficiency and fuel management and receive instant alerting of plant equipment issues.

- Lorenzo Pleath Manager of IT Service Delivery, De Beers Canada Inc.

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