The Evolution of Mining: Utilizing the Cloud
It’s hard to justify using the term revolutionary for a technology that has effectively been around since late 1990s and where companies like Salesforce have been capitalizing on the Software as a Service (SAS) arena for years. “The Cloud” itself is not a new concept. The origins of cloud computing can be traced back to the 1960s by the likes of J.C.R. Licklider and John McCarthy. But, as far as mining has come as an industry, there are still areas where we continue to resist embracing technical advances.
Everyday, massive amounts of data are being created and captured by mining companies. But what’s the value of that data if you can’t sift through it and make it tell a story. In an interview with the Financial Times, Mike Elliott of EY stated:
“The most substantial contribution to mine productivity may well be the ability to deal with big data around the operation – analyse it, process it and react quickly enough to make a difference … Otherwise it can be like drinking through the fire hose.”
With many operations struggling to keep razor thin margins as metals prices remain volatile, the knee jerk reaction of cutting head count and buying trucks isn’t going to cut it. So, how can the cloud help mining companies progress forward?
One area is implementing solutions that utilize the cloud’s immense processing power. These tools can help to decipher the volumes of data mining companies have amassed and provide greater strategic insight. Advantages to deploying cloud based solutions include:
1. Get Up and Running, Fast
Typically, all you need is an internet connection and log in credentials. The service provider has put in all the back-end work. In the case of Microsoft, over $15 billion has been invested in their cloud products. There’s no need to dedicate rooms to servers and teams of IT to support maintaining those devices. A great, everyday example of this is Gmail. There’s no need to install anything (although there are some cool plug-ins to streamline your inbox), you don’t need to call in the teenager next door to set it up, and its accessible from any device.
2. Cut Capital Investments
Cap Ex is a hard thing to come by these days in mining and cloud-based services are considered operating expenses. Since the capital intensive costs are absorbed by the service provider, your initial investment is minimized and the demand on local IT support is limited as well.
3. Truly Collaborative Environment
Cloud computing allows for geographically dispersed teams to work on data simultaneously. Reports and data are easily shared with managers and stakeholders. The cloud’s data management capabilities ensure there is one version of the truth and those who need it have access to it.
4. Scalable Solution
1 user, 10 users or 100. It’s as easy as flipping a switch. No need to pay for all the software licenses, IT support, hardware etc… The 18 month implementation all too common with traditional software based enterprise systems becomes someone else’s nightmare.
5. Ditch the Dongle (and Archaic Pricing Structure)
Software as a service (SAS) allows providers to get more creative with the pricing structure. Again, cloud-based applications are web accessed and require only a user name and password. One of my favorite clients has a bad habit of losing his dongle. He recently called me up in a panic because he had ran it through the washer. Miraculously, the dongle survived. But why are we chained to the dongle/license combo?
Where We Go From Here…
This year, Datamine became the first major mining software vendor to provide data-intensive applications on a cloud-based platform. If you’re interested in learning more about what Datamine has done to advance mining into the future with cloud-based applications, read more here or you can check out the video below.
Datamine has already experienced some impressive highlights with Strategic Open Pit Planner (SOPP), the first application to roll out on their new cloud based platform, Summit:
- During internal testing, Datamine completed 5,000 pit optimizations in only 1 day.
- During external testing, a Datamine client compared SOPP to traditional desktop applications and realized a 90% time savings.
- What would normally require an army of skilled engineers and just as many high powered computers to complete, can now be accomplished by one person with any device connected to the internet.
No matter what the market conditions, you know what your operations key drivers are and the power of the cloud can help you define greater predictability in succeeding in various market cycles.
Author: Rick Siegrist – Datamine North America