Project management is an essential driver of success in all business operations, particularly in mining. However, mining is ever-changing, and presents new challenges that project managers have to overcome in order to keep projects on schedule and within budgets. It is for this reason that project management strategies need to be relooked and updated on a regular basis, and make use of technological tools to ensure continued efficiency.
According to Joe de Klerk, Managing Director of CCS Mining and Industrial, the challenges include aspects relating to design and planning, budgeting, monitoring, actual costs versus budget and forecasting, and decision reporting. The strategies in addressing these, he says, should be continuously updated in line with industry trends. “Addressing the vast amount of information and data generated through these processes may appear to be a daunting task, however there are solutions that will provide for ease of operations as well as greater efficiency,” he explains.
Implementing innovative technologies brought about by the fourth industrial revolution such as big data, artificial intelligence and cloud-based computing can provide project managers with the right tools and a real-time digital model for achieving project goals.
“Traditionally, the mining sector has been the slowest to buy into technological advancements but that looks set to change,” explains de Klerk. “The utilisation of AI’s analytical power is now being coupled with terabytes of information collected by big data projects and systems daily.”
“This allows companies to implement digital twin modelling - a virtual simulation that creates a carbon copy of a mine’s operations in the digital world. This simulation allows management to manipulate a vast number of variables to test theories over a given period and learn how they will affect the mine before implementing them in the real world. For example, project managers can learn precisely how, where and with what tools an optimal amount of ore can be extracted against the lowest amount of risk.”
Additionally, cloud-based estimation and engineering software such as BuildSmart and Candy Cloud have allowed for even greater efficiencies in the project management space. By providing real-time access to project information from anywhere and at any time, project managers are assured of a single reliable source of information across all projects. Through seamless integration, CCS software links various aspects such as estimating, project control, enterprise accounting and operational costing tools. In this way, critical information is shared in real-time and because these solutions are constantly being updated, project managers will always have the right and most current tool for the job.
“One can never truly predict the future, but with the right innovative technology and tools, project managers can be assured that irrespective of the changing conditions and challenges in the industry, they will always be one step ahead and be able to make decisive decisions backed with the right information,” concludes de Klerk