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Software for mining: Helping to optimize project management

Bnamericas Published: Tuesday, July 26, 2022
Software for mining: Helping to optimize project management

Challenges in the mining industry do not only involve operational continuity, falling ore grades or achieving sustainable production that can meet growing demand for minerals to supply the global energy transition. Efficiency in project management is also essential to enable companies to meet their strategic objectives.

Each project has countless unique variables. Prospecting, exploration, project evaluation, construction and production, for example, all entail different phases with respective investments, time and effort, and producing synergies between these processes is how better results can be achieved.

In a year in which there could be significant changes in the constitutional, legislative and tax environment for the Chilean mining industry, companies in the sector are carrying out digital transformations to meet decarbonization goals, maximizing productivity, simplifying tasks and working to reduce costs and risks. As part of these changes, software is one of the technological solutions to consolidate the industry 4.0 revolution in mining.

One proposal for these firms is the digital platform and software provided by ProactiveOffice.com, a company supported by local entrepreneurial organization Chile Endeavor.

The company offers control systems for initiatives, projects, contracts and processes in the mining industry that have been used in a wide range of operations from greenfield projects to broad portfolios of developments that are already in operation.

To find out more about the software available for the mining industry and how it can help projects succeed, BNamericas speaks with Sergio López, founder and CEO of ProactiveOffice.com.

BNamericas: What is the technological solution you offer for mining?

Lopez: It's a suite of SaaS [Software as a Service] systems that provide solutions to the entire life-cycle of initiatives, projects, contracts or mining processes, through four independent and integratable systems:

  • Initiative Management, useful for all types of selection processes, open innovation, public tenders, tenders, personnel selection, among others, which is currently used by Corfo, AMSA [Antofagasta Minerals], among other public and private institutions.
  • Project management, useful for digital transformation in project management, identifying progress, risks, resources, costs, scope and quality.
  • Management of contracts and processes, useful to make management operational, consolidating the quantitative, qualitative and administrative information of the contracts, the system for which has been widely used in mining and engineering companies.
  • Management of indicators, useful to build a comprehensive dashboard, consolidating the information reported by the different KPIs and by management improvement programs.

BNamericas: How does the suite operate?

López: Through cloud systems and integrated mobile applications, designed to increase productivity and improve control of deadlines, costs and quality. These systems are compatible with project methodologies such as LEAN, PMI, Agile, Prince2 and short-cycle control. They're also compatible with Primavera, Prism, SAP, Ellipse. 

The suite manages the potential of the networks to proactively notify expirations, notices, deliveries, deadlines, etc., through a centralized system that provides cross-cutting visibility of all the operations and the costs involved in each process. 

We also automate the generation of executive, operational, quality, cost, occupational safety, portfolio and portfolio reports. In some cases, we integrate with legacy systems, such as ERPs (SAP, Ellipse, Oracle, Prism, etc.) that companies already have, or we offer detailed engineering for each business.

BNamericas: What in the mining sector attracted you to create this solution?

López: Mining offered challenges that weren't addressed and which required a digital transformation. For this reason, we became experts in project portfolio management, which is why Proactive.office.com was created. 

We take care of the mining processes, prior to the allocation of capital until the execution of a project. For the management of initiatives, we incorporate new concepts such as open innovation, which provides the possibility for many people to apply ideas or initiatives that are then analyzed through an algorithmic analysis system that allows a quantitative review of which are the most appropriate projects or ideas for the company.

Regarding capex allocation and contract management, the software allows management of portfolios that involve thousands of contracts with the possibility of quantifying the level of costs that exists in each item. In short, we bring together the world of costs, deadlines, objectives and quality to facilitate the task of decision makers. 

The suite is responsible for the entire cycle of the project, from the initial idea, selection of capital, planning and execution, to the various contracts that are generated at each stage.

BNamericas: Which mining areas in Chile make up your group of clients?  

Lopez: The  greatest impact in terms of the number of users, contracts and the millions of dollars that are managed on the platform comes from large-scale mining. For example, we serve Codelco's Andean Division and El Teniente, whom we help manage their project portfolios and contracts. 

We also took charge of the life-cycle of Antofagasta Minerals and created an open innovation cycle for its idea selection processes called Innova Minerals. Through our platform the company presents its problems, for which its own suppliers or workers present the solutions. The software allows you to choose the best idea. 

We have also worked with Antofagasta Minerals in managing their portfolio. And we've worked for Collahuasi in the process of managing its large projects and contracts that involve several million dollars for the next four years.

We leave aside the macro vision of the processes to adopt a micro vision that facilitates the specific control of the various items. To do this, we connect with the technological world of each company. 

In Antofagasta Minerals with SAP and in Collahuasi with Ellipse. We integrate the worlds of accounting, planning, quality and safety to create a single world [platform] that brings together data from the different computers and mobile devices of workers, such as the equipment used by the inspectors of the works.

The data is finally displayed in a standardized way, being useful for project management, cost engineering or for the bases of ISO 31000. In addition, it allows you to view Gantt chart curves, variant curves, budget execution curves, risk matrices and the KPIs of a portfolio, to understand the reality of the different aspects that you want to control.

BNamericas: What is the demand like for solutions of this type in mining?

López: At the beginning, mining was a difficult sector because they didn't want to risk interruptions in their production. But, we made them see that the paper checklist process could be optimized. 

It was difficult to convince them that innovative software from Chile could be better than world-class software that is being used in Peru, Australia or Switzerland. But today there's greater openness and they realized that open innovation, for example, bringing together many potential problem solvers, allows them to obtain a much more intelligent solution. 

The current mining trend is to be open to innovations, work on pilot plans and use the success stories of innovation companies.

BNamericas: How much should a mining company invest in technology?

López: Studies by consultancies IBC and Gartner recommend that investment in innovation by the mining industry should be between 2% and 7% to achieve a digital transformation process that encompasses more processes each year and, in turn, to see the results.

BNamericas: What are the most interesting cutting-edge technologies for mining?  

López: The world of the internet of things, the sensorization of equipment and video analytics with cameras capable of detecting smoke or defining ranges of spaces that can be set up with alarms, even counting the number of people, seem to me to be great innovations.   

We're working on sensorization and video analytics so that projects can be updated autonomously, based on what is being recorded or accounted for. A sensor and an image are rarely wrong.

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