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Q&A

The importance of advanced analytics in mining

Bnamericas Published: Thursday, July 07, 2022
The importance of advanced analytics in mining

RMES Analytics is a technology company that offers advanced analytics solutions to improve productivity of processes and business competitiveness.

Through the application of digital models in processes, the company analyzes the performance of the equipment, taking the information from the equipment to the level of the plant, fleet or complete process and connecting the industrial operations with the business strategies of the companies.

Among its mining clients are Codelco, Glencore, SQM, Rio Tinto, Yamana Gold, Lundin Mining, Teck, CAP and Kinross.

To learn more about the importance of advanced analytics in mining, BNamericas spoke with Alessio Arata, co-founder and CEO of RMES Analytics.

BNamericas: What are your challenges as a mining supplier?

Arata: We were born as a services and consulting company in the field of physical asset management. Our great challenge was to change a business model from a service provider to a company that offers technologies and IT solutions. This involved a series of changes such as moving from a variable structure to a fixed structure with support areas, customer success and the development of new products, understanding the need of companies for a solution that is recurring over time, since both the problems and the bottlenecks are changing.

BNamericas: Apart from large-scale mining, do you offer solutions for small and medium-sized companies?

Arata: Our focus is on the big ones, but it also applies to all types of companies that are intensive in physical assets. Our main RMES Suite product is being used in operations that concentrate more than 70% of copper production in Chile, and more than 20% of world copper production, if we add our clients in Peru. The benefits of using our solution are mainly the optimization of capex and the increase in production levels from the online identification of bottlenecks and the reduction of process stoppage times.

The profitability of capital-intensive companies, such as mining, is largely determined by the need to get the most out of the invested capital. This implies ensuring the uptime of the processes, taking advantage of the available information to identify the criticalities and project the potential benefits associated with the implementation of improvements. To do this, we focus on quality data to determine the maximum potential of the processes, evaluate the gaps that exist in production and take the necessary preventive actions to improve the productivity of capital.

BNamericas: How important is benchmarking in your technology solutions?

Arata: Working with a large percentage of the mining operations in Chile has allowed us to acquire relevant knowledge in the field of asset performance and in the standardization of metrics, allowing us to make comparisons between operations. In 2016 we worked for the national productivity commission on a study for large-scale copper mining. On that occasion, we carried out equipment productivity benchmarking, through which we obtained the performance indicators of approximately 90% of the large Chilean copper operations. We connect directly with the source information available in both plants and fleets. With our technology, we were able to standardize and parameterize the information until the indicators were obtained, both at the level of the equipment and the processes, so they were comparable under the same standard. This information facilitated the knowledge of the existing gaps between the mining operations. The experience was a success and from there we have refined the technology to allow a better online comparison of operations. This is relevant for large mining pools that have many operations but use different standards. The solution allows mining companies to compare themselves anonymously.

BNamericas: How do ensure the security of your technological products?

Arata: It’s essential that no one can interfere with the data and prevent the information from being lost. In general, customers prefer that we use their servers, therefore we host our products on their own technology infrastructures and security standards. This allows us not to be a risk for customers, since the information, although it’s collected through our applications, is stored in their systems. In any case, we have all the necessary security measures.

BNamericas: How much should a mining company invest in technology to stay up to date and achieve efficiency in its operations?

Arata: Large technology companies worldwide could invest 10% of their sales in R&D, and even more in some cases. However, a mining company whose focus is not the development of technologies but the acquisition of solutions, already validated, could be less. The important thing is to invest more and more in technologies to improve production processes, information analysis and organizational management.

Mining, in general, has the lowest rates in terms of digital transformation compared to other capital-intensive industries. Technological transformation has to do with a different way of doing things. It’s important to define what you want to achieve with the technologies, for example, reduce costs, improve production or do less damage to the environment. Everything has to go hand in hand: the process to be modified, the people who are going to work, the technology that will be used in the process, etc. Technology must be seen as a means and not as an end.

BNamericas: What are the most interesting technological innovations that have been implemented in mining recently?

Arata: At the implementation level, I highlight autonomous trucks, remote operations centers, the application of robotics for high-risk tasks, and even the use of advanced analytics to predict failures or identify opportunities to reduce production losses. 

Miners must focus on their businesses and leverage technology providers, who invest in research and development to provide better equipment and better solutions for mining. Therefore, they should invest in the development of an organizational culture that allows them to quickly evaluate and adopt the best innovations available in the market.

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