Roadmap for Digitization & Automation – Part 1

We’ve introduced Change Management into our Mine Digitization and Automation series, talked about the importance of knowing what pain points you were hoping to solve with a digital transformation, and how you might need to manage expectations around the downsides of change. And there will be more to come. 

Groundhog: Roadmap for Digitization & Automation - Part 1
Groundhog: Roadmap for Digitization & Automation – Part 1

As we’ve indicated in past blogs, you need objective, baseline data that shows you where your organization is today with regard to your people and processes, so you can set your technology adoption goals, and determine next steps. 

For some organizations, we are literally still talking about moving from paper to digital. Some are just moving away from Excel. There are very successful mines still doing SIC with radios. Mining is a world-wide business, with many levels of maturity. (And we would like to recognize the Global Mining Guidelines Group for their work in helping to align mining practices – particularly around safety.) 

We’ll use an example of a strategic roadmap containing five progressive levels that we have developed and used successfully. Of course, this can be adapted to your organization. We want all mining operations to succeed and improve on safety, efficiency and production, as well as emissions, community wellness where they operate, and environmental concerns. 

Let’s start with the first three levels. 

Level 1 – Capture

The first level of any roadmap should focus on consolidating data sources and capturing shift notes electronically. What does this look like and what will happen?

  • A part of the move from paper to digital, and having operators provide the shift log data they’ve collected on paper to a data entry operator who will input this information into control room software. 
  • Process improvement and design phase, to capture all data digitally, mitigate data issues/discrepancies, and have a mine manager review the data collected regularly and determine data correctness and integrity. 
  • Remove kinks in data collection or change the format of data collected so that it is consistent across groups and based on what is required to create digital reports. This is also the stage where you’ll create a data governance structure and establish baseline key performance indicators (KPIs). 

If a decision on new technology is imminent, this is a key opportunity to gather your senior management team to determine expectations from the system and conduct a demonstration of the system being proposed. 

It is also vital to conduct user councils with mine managers, site champions, supervisors, mining engineers, and operators to gather feedback on current processes and where they can be improved and to begin making them familiar with idea of change, and the benefits of the system with a focus on how it will improve things for them. Much change management work is needed at this stage, and frequent, consistent communication is very important. (What and how you will need to communicate will be discussed in a future blog post.) 

At the Capture level is where you will likely begin conducting trials with achievable success criteria and milestones, to build confidence in the system AND your people as you provide more comprehensive training to users, before moving to production or a full deployment of the system. As per above, it will be important to communicate these successes widely, and prepare other areas where the tech will be implemented for the change. Word will spread quickly!

Next time, we’ll look at Level 2, the “Track” phase, when you really begin to see the utility and power of capturing and harnessing your data.


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