Outsourcing, and the use of third-party off-site facilities to perform specific functions, has become a useful, cost-saving tool for business owners and operators in a variety of industries worldwide. A great example of such dedicated, off-site services is the use of remote (often offshore) call centres, especially in financial and customer service environments.
The mining industry is no stranger to outsourcing where contract mining is commonplace in many mining jurisdictions, including Africa. Getting the most out of any mining property, and the associated assets, requires mining companies to carefully consider their core competencies and determine the most cost-effective way to manage the inherent risk of mining a remote ore body.
Many Tier 1 mining companies have experimented with their own Remote Operations Centres as a means to monitor mines in harsh geographic locations from one central facility. Mining companies find it difficult – and expensive – to source (and retain) the necessary professional talent willing to travel to remote locations or live far away from urban centres.
A critical core competency for mining that lends itself well to remote operations is the monitoring and management of real-time production and safety solutions deployed on-site. These solutions require specialised training, relevant operations experience and technical aptitude – all difficult to find and even more difficult to retain. Until now, remote monitoring has faced many challenges – both from a resourcing perspective and a technology perspective, but an option for remote operations for real-time production and safety systems in mining now exists.
Working closely with experienced, global mine operators from our headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa, Ramjack Technology Solutions has created the first of its kind – fully outsourced – remote operations centre for real-time production and safety systems. The early success of Ramjack’s Remote Operations Centre (rROC) concept is a function of the way in which it addresses the typical barriers experienced by mines during the implementation and operations of advanced production and safety systems.
Any deployment of an advanced production or safety system in a mine will experience one or all of the following typical barriers, preventing full value realisation:
- Misalignment of activities and desired outcomes;
- Low level of knowledge transfer during deployment;
- Unclear responsibilities for value generation;
- Difficulty ingraining technology in work processes and operating procedures;
- Little or no improvement in the overall quality of decision-making.
The rROC programme seeks to eliminate these challenges. The combination of highly skilled and experienced staff, highly competent management, and the deployment of best-in-class technology from top international suppliers has created a facility that addresses all of these typical challenges associated with realising value from real-time, off-site monitoring systems in surface and underground mines.
rROC took many months to fine-tune and many more months to bring into operation. It includes 24/7 monitoring in real-time, direct communications with key resources on-site and is coupled with a detailed communication plan ensuring all safety, operational and security requirements of the mine are met. Originally designed to monitor vehicle health data for trucks and shovels at an open-pit mine in central Africa, the rROC is now prepared to cover both open-pit and underground mines as well as a full suite of applications, including:
- Real-time vehicle health monitoring and predictive maintenance;
- Real-time dispatching and dispatch engineering services;
- Real-time fatigue, monitoring, management and intervention;
- Real-time monitoring of instruments and instrument data;
- Real-time production management & KPI monitoring services.
rROC is not just a way to save on critical resources. In fact, only months after the go-live, it was clear that there were many more benefits from outsourcing real-time monitoring services to Ramjack. Specifically, the key components to ensuring a successful technology deployment are more likely to be achieved with ongoing, real-time support – system adoption improves, as does knowledge transfer.
Every rROC programme includes:
- A scoping workshop used to define the desired outcomes of the programme;
- A Programme Charter documenting the responsibilities, stages and milestones;
- A Communication Protocol defining the communication flow for the programme;
- A formal Knowledge Transfer Programme that goes far beyond on-the-job training;
- 24/7 monitoring of real-time systems from Ramjack’s Johannesburg office.
These key attribues of the rROC Programme allow Ramjack the luxury of guaranteeing value realisation from any real-time production or safety system in a mine (open pit or underground).
If your mine could benefit from having expert resources engaged with your operations personnel 24/7, maybe the rROC is worth considering. If so, please contact your nearest Ramjack office to arrange a time to explore the idea.