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Industry in Focus: Mobility in the Mining Industry

In 2015-2016, the global mining sector suffered due to a 25% year-on-year decline in commodity prices. However, 2016-2017 is deemed more promising despite high volatility at play. One of the reasons behind the industry’s optimism is the digital revolution driving day-to-day productivity.

Leading mining firms have shifted to mining smarter instead of harder. They embraced new technologies such as Big Data, the Internet of Things, and even 3D printing, leaving behind legacy business processes. Mobile technologies in particular have rapidly changed this industry, albeit slower than other asset-intensive industries like oil and gas.

The Benefits of Mobility for the Mining Industry

Leading mining firms believe enterprise mobility improved productivity in both mines and plants. However, that is not all they can do. Here are several more advantages they reap with mobile apps and forms.  

Improved Workforce Safety and Productivity    

Mobilizing mission-critical processes effectively improves workforce safety by reducing failures and stoppages. According to “The New Canary in the Mine” published in The Economist Intelligence Business Unit, 70% of survey respondents say mobile devices prevented accidents. Moreover, 74% of executive-level respondents believe mobile technologies can prevent failures.

Workers’ productivity is also improved with mobility. According to SAP, enterprises relying on mobile apps achieved 10-20% increased work capacity and 50% higher labor productivity. This, in turn, improved mines’ overall performance.

Better Work-Life Balance  

Several publications, including the Australian Work and Life Index report, suggests employees in the mining industry have “the worst work-life interference”. This is due to long work hours, shift work, and extensive travelling. However, maintaining this balance is essential for employees’ mental and physical well-being and, ultimately, the organization’s bottom line.

With enterprise mobility, employees will get the benefit of streamlined communication. Instead of traveling, they can exchange reports and notifications in real-time via mobile. These reports also help achieve numerical flexibility, allowing firms to adjust the quantity of labor to meet demand.  

Enhanced Risk Mitigation

There are several risks facing the mining industry, including:

  • Aging workforce and infrastructure
  • Increasing environmental sensitivities
  • Theft and asset security risks
  • Possible penalties on delays and shortfalls
  • Mining in unstable regions

Studies show that many risks don’t receive the attention they deserve because of the information silos created by paper, pencil, and radio. In addition to endangering employees, risks cause delays and their associated costs.

Mobile solutions, on the other hand, allow employees to look at entire processes end-to-end. Data collected from processes such as real-time workforce tracking and incident reporting can be viewed on an analytics dashboard. Analysts can then process this data and communicate counter measures or solutions for these risks.

Fewer Inefficiencies

Traditional mining processes are riddled with inherent inefficiencies which may lead to employee turnover, low productivity levels, and regulatory breaches. Enterprise mobile solutions for mining firms can reduce these inefficiencies through a range of forms. For example, forms such as Inventory Management and Work Inspection reduce chances of error and deter theft.

Quicker communication via mobile also counters inefficiencies by allowing decision makers to effectively:

  • Anticipate production fluctuations
  • Adopt regulatory requirements quickly
  • Prevent failures and stoppages
  • Shorten restart time

Further Reduced Environmental Impacts of Mining

Local governments and environmental organizations are constantly pressurizing the mining sector to adopt sustainable practices. In addition to water and energy management, automation is a must for the industry to save resources. Mobility can help in this regard.

Mobile forms eliminate paper from business and operation processes, reducing costs and damage to the environment. According to The Paperless Project, paper and pulp consumes 60% of the 17 billion cubic feet of timber harvested annually across the world. By opting for automation and mobile apps, you can contribute to reducing the environmental the impact of paper.  

How to Roll Out Mobility across Your Mining Enterprise

Despite the many benefits mobility solutions offer mining firms, many hesitate to embrace them where to start from. Ho

1) Decide which Areas Benefit the Most from Mobility

There are several areas that can benefit from the implementation of mobile apps. If you’re opting for a scalable approach, decide which of the following areas you should begin with.

  • Analytics – By mobilizing your firm’s analytics gathering process, you can make quicker and effective decisions. Dashboards allow firms to monitor key business parameters and receive real-time insights.
  • Asset Management – A mobile solution with forms for work order management, inventory management, and asset management can improve overall efficiency.
  • Logistics – Mobile solutions can add further transparency across the supply chain and support the supply chain management.
  • Workforce Management – Mobile forms can automate scheduling to deliver efficient job planning and smooth assignment dispatch. This, in turn, enhances field worker utilization and improves responsiveness in case of emergencies.
  • Regulatory Compliance – Mobile solutions allow field workers to accurately report compliance issues and receive instructions to resolve them.

2) Thoroughly Plan Integrating Mobility with Existing Business Processes

Integrating enterprise mobility is essential for your success. However, this means making certain changes to your processes. For instance, your expense management process will need to allow scanned receipts to facilitate mobilized processes. The following are some of the critical questions you should answer when planning:

  • What’s the Volume of Your Mobile Workforce? – You should be aware of how much of your workforce is actually mobile. This will allow you to accurately assess the volume of resources you will need and, ultimately, determine their costs.
  • What are Your Mobility Goals? – List down the business goals you wish to achieve through your enterprise mobile app. In addition to helping you get the right solution, it’ll motivate you to research your workforce’s mobility needs and deliver accordingly.
  • How Will the Solution Fit Your Enterprise Architecture? –  You need to be able to integrate the new solution with your existing IT architecture. To achieve this, you need to plan resources beforehand. Moreover, prioritize the components your solution will have to effectively fund them.
  • How Will You Handle Security Concerns? – Decide how to effectively control access to your enterprise’s data and ensure its security. You can discuss this with the developer or the company behind your enterprise mobile app development platform.

3) Assign an Executive Sponsor or Team

While the industry looks towards automation to challenging operating environment and substantial price volatility, miners themselves may not welcome change. Therefore, you need to recruit an executive sponsor, a champion who’ll advocate for the project and communicate its benefits to other employees.

The executive sponsor will also communicate the voice of the people. Since your employees will be using the apps you create, you should be ready to incorporate their feedback.

So Are You Ready to Go Mobile?

Now is the right time for your mining enterprise to go mobile. If you wish to try an enterprise mobile app before getting your own, download and install our Ready2Use App.  

If you think this is the app for you, sign up for Makeen transform platform and start designing your own mobile forms and adding them to Makeen transform. Find out more here.

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