This past year, our businesses and life have been largely challenged. Many Resource companies looked at their operations and saw fragile supply chains, untrustworthy information, and weak communication models. This motivated innovative and forward-thinking companies to turn into Change Experts and take the advantage of new technologies to enhance processes. There are likely over 100 major technology themes across the sectors. With a focus on Mining and Oil & Gas sectors, the ongoing pandemic has driven many pioneering changes.
These new models will continue to drive new solutions, inspire more problem solving and deliver innovative enhancements from more safety, quality and security, to increased customer service via technology. Here are a few examples of the themes that have been driven by new technologies, more specifically in the Resource sector.
Fuel is one of the biggest overheads in mining. Reducing the amount of fuel used or phasing the use of diesel out completely may take a large initial investment but could yield huge long-term cost savings to this sector and others. In the longer term, many mines are laying the foundations for carbon neutrality by moving to battery-electric vehicles and generating power from renewable sources.
The electric applications are everywhere in mobility to reduce carbon footprints. Nouveau Monde Graphite and Caterpillar are collaborating on the Matawinie Mine in Quebec to create a test bed for Caterpillar’s future with all mining vehicles being electric. The Mining company has a vision of zero-emission vehicles and aims to reach an overall carbon footprint of net-zero.
A very friendly fuel is also getting a lot of attention. With Canadian federal funding to build a hydrogen fuelling station in Edmonton, all the pieces are now in place to start testing Canadian-made, heavy-duty, hydrogen fuel cell trucks carrying real-world payloads on a 700-kilometre route in 2022. Additionally, the fuelling station, (Alberta Zero Emissions Truck Electrification Collaboration) project involves the design and manufacture of two hydrogen fuel cell electric hybrid trucks.
Multi leg or tracked robots are now used offshore on Rigs and other installations. This is a big step for offshore robotics adoption. Robots reduce or eliminate exposure of the workforce to harsh and risky environments. They can be fitted with camera, Lidar, or smart algorithms to detect a pump gauge and if it is working or not. It may have microphones to detect a base frequency and even thermal imaging.
Better and timely decision making requires all the relevant data with frequency, security, and quality. Therefore, technology must push the limits on this optimization which requires more sensors to collect data, more bandwidth, and more computing capacity. Some 40 percent of offshore production volume, such as Canada, Norway, and the United States are connected to shore by fiber, while 56% is connected by microwave.
Cloud Based Solutions
Investing in a fleet management or in high-precision machine guidance systems and collecting data is one thing. Harvesting the data for use in analytics is something completely different. The continuous development of the capabilities to perform predictive analytics, machine learning and AI using big data can take years of cohesive strategy with clearly defined steps and measurable outcomes.
Processing billions of rows of fleet management and asset health data for use in advanced analytics can take serious levels of investment in people and infrastructure, so this is where we are increasingly seeing Resource companies turn to cloud-based solutions. This was also the direction and now the reality of Nomadis Workforce Logistics Solution.
Connectivity has greatly improved, but at the same time, within operational technology environments, it has exponentially expanded the threat exposure. Therefore, Resource companies must protect themselves from Cyber espionage, Phishing attacks and / or Third-party access, as examples.
Mine operators need to detect and evade cyber attacks before they disrupt production, result in potential danger to life, damage equipment or cause a loss of Intellectual Property (IP).
As mining operators continue to integrate IT and OT networks to enhance efficiencies, the threat of cyber attacks will only continue to grow. Fortunately, the gravity of the cyber threats facing them is dawning on the industry and operators are beginning to take the necessary steps to build IT-like resiliency and defend their systems.
The rapid spread of the novel coronavirus around the world continues to have a huge effect on the Resources sector as we head into 2022. Thousands of miners, oil workers (onshore & offshore), and those who work in supporting industries (including managers, operators, and contractors) are still working on projects from home.
With disruption set to continue, perhaps the way we work will be changed for good – with decreased travel and increased remote project work. This will inevitably introduce an extra level of complexity in Workforce Logistics Management, and although some work simply cannot be done remotely, there is an increasing realisation some roles can be shifted to remote operations centres.
We have already helped several multinational companies consolidate their teams remotely, helping them develop updated and streamlined processes, and supporting analytics tools and data visualisations.