Spotlight: Workforce management software in the mining sector

Bnamericas Published: Tuesday, September 13, 2022
Spotlight: Workforce management software in the mining sector

Miners are increasingly turning to technological solutions to manage their workers. 

Víctor Devia, CEO of Chile's Opendat, explains how his company's workforce management software was designed with the mining industry in mind.

BNamericas: Tell us about your solution.

Devia: It's a platform that operates through software-as-a-service (SaaS) that's located in the cloud with all the necessary infrastructure, including applications, servers, databases and licenses, to manage the workforce. 

We deliver comprehensive solutions that allow you to store and manage documents, control access, carry out the accreditation of people and vehicles that enter the mining operations, monitor how employees are fed, supervise fuel consumption, among other things.

BNamericas: Tell us about how the workforce is managed.

Devia: It's mainly based on the accreditation process. The operational, legal, labor, safety and health requirements that must be met by each person entering the mining site are defined, whether they're workers, visitors, inspectors or authorities. 

If it involves operations at height, it's common to request a geographic height test. This health examination is validated at the access control, ensuring compliance with the requirements established by the customer.

BNamericas: How is the health aspect of the workforce managed?

Devia: With the technology, the user can choose their plate of food, know how many calories they consume and access the traceability of what they are eating. This information can be reported to the health area. We also have a medical management module, where we record the basic illnesses of each worker, such as diabetes, hypertension or others, so that in scenarios such as the pandemic, they can be advised on the appropriateness of entering a site. There's also a record of vaccinations of workers and employees.

BNamericas: The platform has the capacity to store up to 6 million pieces of data. How is this information managed?

Devia: We have a very large repository of information because data from different areas are incorporated: access controls, canteens, accommodation, etc. To manage the information, users or stakeholders can make management reports using each of the functionalities. For this, the person is required to know how to handle Excel at an advanced level.

BNamericas: How is fuel consumption managed at a site?

Devia: Fuels and explosives represent the biggest costs for a mining company. In general, miners have a supplier of fuel, either oil or gasoline, which feeds tanks or pumps for use by trucks, generators, etc. 

The tool analyzes each instance of the fuel fill and detects when there is a departure from the target. For example, if the maximum capacity of 5,000 liters is exceeded, an alarm will be generated. With this functionality, we've seen savings of 3.26% in total billing. This is very advantageous since they are companies that easily spend US$70mn a year.

BNamericas: What's the investment required for this type of software?

Devia: Including servers, data capture devices, licenses and implementation, we're talking about between US$400,000 and US$500,000.

BNamericas: How can software help reduce costs in general?

Devia: With the use of the platform there will be only one way to proceed, only one way to define the entrance of a visitor or to assign employees. This provides operational discipline, which is essential to obtain greater profitability. 

In most mining companies, the laws, the geographical difficulties and the suppliers are similar. The difference is in operational discipline.

BNamericas: Which mining companies have shown interest in this type of technology?

Devia: Important companies already have our services. Those who have decided to adopt their own solutions have had to face the difficulty of creating the software. Our solution provides stability. 

We've been in the market for more than 20 years and we have clients in Peru, such as Gold Fields, which has the Cerro Corona mining operation. In Chile we're in Cerro Colorado, Collahuasi ... we're expanding. The platform allows you to configure the information in different languages since the technical language tends to vary between countries.

BNamericas: Is the national mining industry investing in technology?

Devia: Mining has been carrying out bidding processes for technologies as if they were commodities. That is, at the lowest value.

BNamericas: What challenges remain for the software?

Devia: We'd like to sensorize the temperature or pressure of each person, as well as any other measurable thing about humans, for the purposes of a pandemic or health issues. This would be captured in the access control or when the workers go to the canteens. We also want to perfect the food management of each worker in order to be able to advise them. Workers are an essential part of a mining company. They're the ones who provide productivity.

BNamericas: What have been the main technological challenges in recent years?

Devia: Technological cycles are getting shorter, but software development still takes a long time. The challenge is to make software in shorter times without implying lower quality. And the great challenge of underground mining operations is to ensure that connectivity reaches them so they can benefit from software.

BNamericas: What other functionalities do you plan to incorporate for the mining sector?

Devia: We're developing risk and accident management that will be incorporated into the platform, since there we have all the data on people, areas, contracts, suppliers, vehicles, etc. That is, the set of factors that could be involved in an accident or to analyze a case.

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