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Dwyka Tech*Carnival highlights the importance of adaptability

Dwyka Mining Services MD Jamie van Schoor and Emesent CEO Stefan Hrabar at the Dwyka Tech*Carnival, hosted at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand

Dwyka Mining Services MD Jamie van Schoor (in top hat) facilitates a panel discussion on day one of the Dwyka Tech*Carnival

18th May 2023

By: Tracy Hancock

Creamer Media Contributing Editor

     

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The flexibility humans have to deal with the unexpected has become one of the most crucial skills for any organisation today, as technology continues to play a greater role in business globally, emphasises Amy Hervey from think tank Future Crunch.

Speaking on the first day of the inaugural Dwyka Tech*Carnival, she said the intersection of technology and human behaviour was the main factor that would shape the next economy.

The mining technology festival, hosted at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, Gauteng, on May 17 and 18, was introduced by mining technology advocate for human-plus-machine solutions Dwyka Mining Services to provide a platform where the mining industry could gather to talk about and engage with relevant technology through a fun carnival atmosphere.

“The winners of the next economy are going to be those people whose adaptability quotient (AQ) allows them to [adopt] something new. And that's why Harvard Business Review is calling this the next competitive advantage.”

AQ allows humans to pivot when new technological advancements, such as artificial intelligence, are introduced, said Hervey, emphasising that new technology was meant to help augment and not replace human expertise – a sentiment with which drone autonomy, LiDAR mapping and data analytics specialist Emesent CEO Stefan Hrabar agreed.

“Mining is a great example of how we can use autonomous systems and artificial intelligence to go places and collect data and understand more about the environment in a safe and repeatable way that we wouldn't be able to do as humans.”

However, in most cases, the mining industry is not a priority market for major original-equipment manufacturers (OEMs), advanced diversified miner Sibanye-Stillwater technology and innovation head Alex Fenn during a panel discussion led by Dwyka MD Jamie van Schoor.

Therefore, Sibanye-Stillwater had mostly depended on local OEMs and local technology service providers to help solve its particular problems, highlighted Fenn.

The introduction of the miner’s autonomous, low-profile battery electric-driven load, haul dump (LHD) truck developed by specialised mining equipment producer Ram Equipment has “been a tough journey”, he admitted.

“It's very difficult to pack enough battery power on an LHD to fit it in the [limited] space to transport the amount of material that we need to move.”

Sibanye-Stillwater is working with technology partner RCT on the remote and semi-autonomy side and with Dwyka on connectivity, using Canada Industrial Internet of Things device manufacturer Maestro Digital Mine’s Plexus PowerNet to provide wireless infrastructure.

“We've eventually been able to get the LHD to the same performance level as our diesel equivalent, but we still have a lot to do. While battery electric vehicles are a phenomenal decarbonisation lever, they're incredibly difficult to get right practically across an organisation.

“We need that equipment to run. To have an extended charging cycle between shifts, is not good for productivity. So, we're still trying to figure out how exactly we would factor this new piece of equipment into [our operation].”

Fenn noted that his role in the company was to help establish and build a culture of innovation that would hopefully make the organisation more adaptable to the complex business environment in which it operated, while enabling a capability for innovation.

Complexity led to chaos in mining and “chaos is cash”, highlighted Maestro Digital Mine CEO in training Jacob Lachapelle during the panel discussion.

“So, everything we do is aimed at making things as simple as possible to drive home that value. And that goes back to maintainability.”

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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