Following the completion of Worley’s acquisition of the energy and chemicals lines of engineering firm Jacobs ECR earlier this year, the company is making massive strides in defining its business and strategic initiatives aimed at tackling opportunities to expand both the business and client base, as well as extended services available due to the merging of multiple professionals, says Robert Hull, new VP of the Worley mining, minerals and metals division for Africa.
In April, Worley finalised its acquisition of Jacobs ECR – a transaction pegged at $3.2-billion, which sets the company up as one of the largest consultancy firms in the world and increases its global footprint.
“Apart from a large footprint of mining in sub-Saharan Africa, some of Worley’s global mining projects are in Australia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia, and the Johannesburg office undertakes the engineering for a number of these projects. This office is a centre of excellence for deep-level mining and shaft sinking for Worley,” says Hull.
He adds that as one of the biggest one-stop shops in Africa for professional services in energy, chemicals and resources, Worley’s clients can expect greater efficiencies, more services, and a greater diversity of skills.
Following Worley’s decision a number of years ago to pioneer the development of digitisation and lead the business information management intelligence (BIM) for mining from South Africa, several top-tier clients are already benefiting from the company’s technological drive, particularly in relation to advancements associated with digital twin developments.
“Worley has for some time been applying BIM principles and systems in the mining and minerals processing sectors, and our customers are starting to see the value in how a simulated operational facility model, or a ‘digital twin’, could improve productivity and reduce much of the risk associated with construction and commissioning, as in this industry cost and schedule overruns often occur in this area,” says Hull.
Worley has been using 3D, 4D and 5D design data mapping for mining and minerals processing to create integrated design platforms that incorporate schedule and cost and, in the process, save customers time and money.
Furthermore, the company recently began operating in the 6D and 7D space, allowing real time access to “operational related metadata for equipment and systems within a project with a click of a mouse in a virtual or augmented reality environment for their customers”.
The expansion of the “digital twin model” into the 7D space now enhances project execution efficiencies in the commissioning, start-up and operational phases of the project lifecycle.
“The ‘digital twin’ is essentially an operational data enhanced model (that may have virtual or augmented reality models associated) of the designed facility. All the metadata relating to equipment or systems on a project can be easily accessed in a user-friendly way,” says Hull. “7D therefore offers the capability to include operational and maintenance-related technical data in the live model.”
Revival of shelved projects
Speaking of developments in the project space, Hull notes that while there’s no shortage of projects in Africa, funding to develop projects into world-class assets remains a challenge.
Interestingly, some projects that were placed on the backburner following the tough economic climate are now being resurrected.
“In the past six months, Worley has received orders for initial studies, feasibility studies and project implementation. This is a good indicator that the industry is beginning to improve.”
Hull notes that Worley is seeing concept and pre-feasibility studies in battery minerals, but he believes it is the start of this boom as these minerals are still at infancy stages of development.