Big Data Roadblocks
With the rise of big data and analytics, the ability to reduce costs and improve efficiencies soar. However the relationship between clients who own the data and the service providers who need to access the data to effect the required improvements remains a bone of contention, Metso’s group CEO Pekka Vauramo tells SA Mining.
“Although everyone realises the benefits of data analytics, the issue of data ownership can be a roadblock. Our customers who have ownership of the data don’t necessarily have the expertise or economies of scale to unlock the opportunities presented, and while we have the scale to do that, access to data can be challenging. The way forward, therefore, is to effect a co-sharing of the data agreement,” says Vauramo.
He adds that digitisation, which in essence is the connection of different pieces of equipment, for instance process equipment or mobile equipment, via the cloud or computer, allows the service provider to unlock opportunities presented by analytics.
“Take for example the cellphone – a suitable set of standards had to be established before it could be rolled out regionally, locally and globally. In the same way, standards regulating data have to be established.”
Expectations for the establishment of standards for service providers and clients alike may take a while, though – this as industry grapples with issues related to data ownership and sharing.
Equipment supplier Metso is already in “detailed discussions” with clients for the establishment of partnership agreements and is also looking to extend the data options to include value creation for communities that surround clients’ operations.
“We are in very early stages of discussions with our clients to help them unlock economic opportunities as well which will in turn drive positive socio-economic opportunities for their surrounding communities. Metso Metrics is a tool that we use to help our customers analyse their operational performance data using digitalisation,” says recently appointed senior vice president for the Africa market area, Qasim Abrahams.
Meanwhile, according to Vauramo, the biggest component of Metso’s spending “remains on updating its existing fleet and developing new products”.
“In fact, some of our bigger crushers come standard with instrumentation that allows data collation from the various points of the equipment. At this point in time, we have around 100 pieces of connected equipment globally and while this is still a small population of equipment, we are growing it as fast as we can.
“With the right technology, throughput can be increased by 5% to 30%, operating costs reduced significantly as well as realising lower energy and water consumption in mining operations.”
Given Metso’s Vision 2022, which is focused on accelerated growth in the Africa market, the company took the decision last year to run the African market as a standalone entity. Previously it was coupled with the Middle East, which together (Africa and Middle East) accounted for 10% of global product sales.
Following Metso’s aggressive African strategy, the company is busy “ensuring that the right executive team is chosen to head up the continent”.
“Discussions under way include defining our growth ambitions for Africa, top-of-the-list regions to target in order to achieve maximum growth and which mining capital expansion projects to follow. This also includes tracking gold projects currently being rolled out in West Africa and associated investor confidence in emerging minerals (vanadium and cobalt) as well as evaluating opportunities in the Central African region. We have aligned our strategy to dovetail with the roll-out of new age minerals, as we expect that momentum to develop new age mineral projects will increase over the next five years – this on the back of developments associated with electric vehicle manufacture,” explains Abrahams, who was appointed to drive growth in the African market.
“Metso’s African strategy is centred on knowing the customer and understanding their needs, which requires having increased market coverage and an extended geographical footprint. The strategy has resulted in a drive to engage our key customers and partner with them for common alignment of goals.”
The initiative includes localisation (entrepreneurial opportunities) with Rubamin in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Further to this the company has a global technology partnership with Rockwell Automation as related to Metso Metrics.
Rubamin SARL is a subsidiary of an Indian multinational consortium, which operates in the copper-rich province of Haut-Katanga in the DRC.
While there is an understanding that the mining sector is a cyclical industry, Metso, according to Vauramo, grew “by 30% year-on-year in the last quarter”.
“We have bucked the trend with an order book that increased by 17% in 2018.”