Data and information
Mining companies face a number of challenges when it comes to making holistic changes, particularly due to the tendency of the different areas of the business—such as maintenance, production and support functions like human resources—to operate independently as silos. Given that mining is essentially a physical flow of material, it’s important to understand the main drivers of variability and better coordinate and integrate all business functions to make sure the whole system performs to its true capability.
Data and information are important foundations for increasing collaboration among the different functions. If bouts of absenteeism or worker shortages are hurting production and efficiency, for example, increased sharing of data and collaboration between the human resources department and the affected production and maintenance groups can help address the issue in a more effective way.
Culture, people and processes
The good news for mining companies is that because they have many engineers in their ranks, there’s no shortage of technical skills. But the challenge is that the more tangible ingredients, such as the technology itself, are only part of the solution, which is why some of the progress made by the industry so far has produced modest results.
Truly achieving the potential of digital transformation means looking at some of the less tangible elements of the operations—namely culture, people and business processes—to change the organization in a systemic and sustainable way.
Agile ways of working
Agile ways of working are an important part of addressing those people, process and cultural elements. Mining companies have long used more traditional project management approaches involving separate and extended stages of concept, design, testing and implementation when it comes to transforming the business.
But to get the most out of their digital investments, they would do better to focus on short bursts of activity by cross-functional teams that deliver incremental value regularly. The approach creates momentum through early wins and helps to shift organizational culture as change becomes a constant.