Latest News

​Industry Q&A: Innovation and Productivity in the Mining Sector

2015: Transforming Mining is just around the corner, so with its emphasis on
innovation and productivity, we decided to catch up with SRO Technology’s
Managing Director, Peter Seligman about innovation, collaboration, productivity
and the greatest challenges focused across the mining value chain right now.
Peter is a qualified engineer, who has been at the helm of SRO Technology for 2
years now, the latest role in a career spanning property, infrastructure,
mining and investment banking.

As an Australian-owned METS
company, who are recognised as the world leaders in innovation and
technological advancement, how important is it to keep innovating and
collaborating within the industry as a whole to ensure its future?

single mining equipment, technology and services (METS) business can solve all
the challenges faced by the customers in our industry. Real innovation and
advancement comes from connecting adjacent technologies in an effective and
efficient way.

For example, at SRO
Technology, we focus primarily on designing and installing belt scale, metal
detector, bin level and density gauge systems for the mining industry. However,
we regularly collaborate with a range of partners to ensure that our customers
get the right mix of technology and support to solve their problem.

in Australia is a highly fragmented industry, made up of many great niche
players and a few larger generalists. In order to obtain its strong global
reputation, businesses within the Australian METS sector have had to collaborate
to both compete on a global stage and access the combination of technology
required to solve high-end problems.

remain competitive and profitable, it is critical that METS businesses
continually innovate in a collaborative way. Fundamentally, collaboration (and
in many ways innovation) are not optional extras – they must be core to
business as usual.

SRO Technology have a field service team of engineers
and technicians as part of your wider service offering. Field service
management is a huge area of focus for many organisations, with significant
opportunities existing to improve customer satisfaction, efficiency and
productivity. What are the biggest challenges with having a field service team?
How does it allow you to better deliver for your customers?

all comes down to the customer, followed by the team and then our

first and most important challenge is having the right technician with the
right expertise available at the right time to solve the problem for the
customer. This reliability requires a business focus on recruiting, training
and retaining a great team of people, and then having sufficient unutilised
capacity to respond to customer
needs. This approach demands real confidence in the vision and strategy of the
company in order to invest in the team. Any lacking clarity of purpose will
only undermine the confidence to build and field a strong team.

our customers want accurate and reliable output from their measurement
instruments. Our field service team frequently fix problems on site before
those problems begin to significantly impact accuracy. They do this by working
with what’s available on site to keep the customer operating reliably whilst a
longer term solution is resolved. This real-time problem solving is valued by
our customers in an environment where the cost of downtime can have a
significant impact on net productivity and efficiency. Extending the useful
life of critical instruments is also of great value in the current
capital-constrained, productivity-focused environment.

field service team is on the front line of our customer relationships – their
insight and regular feedback allows us to constantly look for ways to improve
the customer experience.

The transport of ore around the
site and processing plant is obviously a critical part of the overall mining
value chain. Where are the biggest risks in this part of the chain? How can
miners ensure the most efficient conveyance of resource on site?

believe that a significant commercial risk in the movement of ore and product
through the mining process is not having accurate and reliable measurement
information. If you cannot rely on your information, or you are inadvertently
relying on inaccurate information, you will make decisions that will
drastically impact your efficiency and you may not truly understand the flow
and position of material and product across the site.

great opportunity to improve the efficiency of material movements, and
therefore productivity, on site is to improve the accuracy and reliability of
measurement instruments. More accurate information will more readily identify
inefficiencies in the system and allow process engineers and other members of
the mining team to refine the process.

example, a small error in the belt weighers supporting a crushing and screening
process may influence a misinterpretation of the sizing of the screen or the
effectiveness of the crusher. A minor error in the bin level system that
controls the loading of trains or trucks may under or overload vehicles and
either require material to be removed, or dispatch vehicles not fully loaded. A
small error in the resolution of a tramp metal detector could allow tramp to
pass into a critical process, or cause a false trip that results in unnecessary,
costly downtime. The smallest error in a density gauge may influence the wrong
specific gravity in a float tank, sinking valuable material, or sending
precious product slurry to tailings when it should be retained.

the accuracy and reliability of measurement instruments across the site will
increase the resolution of information available to key decision makers and
allow them to refine their process to maximise efficiency.

What do you see as the biggest
opportunities for the mining industry in Australia in 2015 to improve

productivity is all about getting more output from less input. At the core of
improving productivity is understanding those inputs and outputs. Therefore,
more accurate and more comprehensive measurement of product and processes on
site will allow for a better understanding of the productivity challenge – and
subsequently the success or failure of productivity initiatives.

measurement instruments must be properly applied on site to avoid errors
inherent in application and deliver more accurate information to decision
makers. These instruments are essentially the nerve endings of the mining
information system. Regardless of the inherent accuracy in any instrument, if
it is not properly applied it will never deliver its optimum accuracy.
Technology is increasingly ‘plug-and-play’; however, failure to ensure proper
physical application will not deliver accurate results.

data can be interesting, but relevant and useful information derived from that
data is far more insightful. Translating raw data into useful information to
target critical key points in the production chain and then communicating those
insights effectively from the site through to the boardroom will allow a better
understanding of productivity at every level in the organisation and the steps
required to improve it.

This article originally appeared in full at Austmine.

Send this to a friend