Mining Operations Management: The Other MOM

Mining2-2.jpgManufacturing Operations Management (MOM) has been a key practice area at LNS Research for over three years, but as we've added coverage of Asset Performance Management (APM) to our portfolio mining companies are increasingly becoming part of our research community. Within the mining sector operations management is very different than it is in typical discrete and batch manufacturing operations.

While some of the traditional MOM providers have made inroads into the mining sector, there is also a separate group of suppliers that serve the mining sector and bring integrated APM and MOM solutions to the table. Adding in the specialized geo-technical software providers, some of which provide mining operations management software as well, this diverse vendor community offers the mining market an array of solutions to choose from, and not always easy choices.

And with smart connected assets broadening the scope and power of both MOM and APM functionality in mining and changing the mining landscape already, the choice of provider for a mining operations management solution is becoming increasingly important.

Traditional MOM Solutions in the Mining Sector

Many of the traditional automation suppliers that offer MOM software have a strong presence in the mining sector and have gone beyond providing automation and control and power solutions to also leverage their MOM or Manufacturing Execution System (MES) software into the mining customer base. For example, Honeywell, Schneider Electric, and GE all have a presence with their MES/MOM solutions in mining. The automation vendors have focused mostly on the data collection, performance visualization, and reporting aspects of MES and have not significantly expanded into the planning and scheduling aspects of operations management.

This presents mining clients with a challenge: while the simplicity of integrating the MES with the automation solutions when provided by the same vendor is appealing, the functionality of these solutions does not match that provided by mining focused solution providers. Further complicating the decision process is that some of the automation vendors are making significant inroads into APM with their predictive analytics capabilities which, when integrated with their MES/MOM offerings, provide compelling functionality despite falling short in other areas.

ERP Providers Also Offer Mining Operations Management Capabilities

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) providers, notably SAP and Oracle, also offer MOM/MES solutions and Enterprise Manufacturing Intelligence (EMI) solutions that have been deployed in the mining sector. These solutions feature tight integration with the business systems like production tracking, maintenance, accounting, and human resources processes.

Mining Focused MOM Solution Providers Continue to Thrive

While the mining sector has recently experienced some economic challenges it is continuing to invest in both geo-technical and operations management software, particularly when these are integrated into a complete solution set. In some cases these vendors have remained independent, but much larger providers, which have endeavored to leverage integration with the other products in their respective portfolios, have acquired a number of them.

One example of this is Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) provider Dassault Systèmes, which acquired Gemcom, rebranding it as the Geovia product line. Last July DS also acquired Quintiq, a supply chain planning solution that has had success in the mining industry. The Geovia product set includes a broad range of geology and planning & scheduling solutions as well as InSite, its mining operations management software.

Another example is ABB, which acquired Ventyx, a company that had acquired Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) and comprehensive mining solutions provider Mincom. ABB now has grouped the mining software offerings both on the mining operations management side as well as the APM side, including both EAM and predictive analytics solutions. As such, ABB is currently the only automation vendor that has a full-breadth offering in the mining sector.

Other mining specific providers have remained independent or if part of a larger organization operation continued to remain solely focused on mining. Micromine of Australia is an example of such a company. Based in Perth, Western Australia it offers both geo-technical and operations management solutions.

Making the MOM Choice

With such a broad range of suppliers and solutions available to mining companies making the choice of what MOM solution to deploy is often not easy. Deciding between automation company provided broad MOM solutions and specialized mining operations management solutions always involves trade-offs. The tight integration offered by these vendors is attractive but is really only viable if the particular provider is the dominant automation supplier in the entire organization. If there is diversity in the automation providers then the advantage is less.

Specialized solution providers may lack the tightness of integration but if the automation environment is multivendor this may not be an issue. Other factors then come into play such as integration with APM capabilities. The only way to correctly approach the problem is to craft a mining systems architecture that presents a comprehensive picture of all of the applications used within the mining environment, from mine planning to scheduling on through production management and monitoring.

Look for future blog posts and research reports on the manufacturing (and mining) systems architecture planning process and how to decide which set of solution providers can provide the most powerful operations and asset management platform for your business.

Asset performance management

All entries in this Industrial Transformation blog represent the opinions of the authors based on their industry experience and their view of the information collected using the methods described in our Research Integrity. All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

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