Software solution tackles industry challenges

9th May 2014 By: Jonathan Rodin

Owing to a difficult and volatile economic climate, compounded by lower commodity prices, bearish forecasts, increasing costs and lower productivity, the mining industry is changing its focus from capital expen- diture to operational expenditure to improve profit margins, says industrial software provider GE Intelligent Platforms GM Daniel Coetzee.

The company believes the answer to the industry’s challenges lies in ‘big data’ – the exponential growth and availability of structured and unstructured data.

GE Intelligent Platforms, in September 2012, launched two software solutions, one developed in the US and the other in South Africa, that harness the power of big data to reduce risk, improve efficiency and reduce mining costs, says Coetzee.

He explains that GE Intelligent Platforms’ real-time operational intelligence software suite analyses operations, detects and predicts faults, and communicates to technicians using mobile devices and applications.

Whether the user is an operator or a production manager, information is delivered based on the user’s role, responsibilities and location, enabling the user to monitor and track key performance indicators (KPIs), trends and outcomes from any location, without having to drive back to a central control room, notes Coetzee.

The software is empowering mining operators worldwide to intelligently transform significant amounts of operational data into meaningful and structured information, he adds.

Proficy MaxxMine – the company’s advanced and proven remote monitoring and diagnostic software solution – combines process and asset enhancement in a single offering.

The solution deals with equipment health and process issues; it eliminates equipment failure and stabilises, standardises and improves processes at every phase of the mining value chain.

Proficy MaxxMine improves asset uptime, minimises variability and optimises throughput and recovery, while reducing energy costs.

Using a multivariate analytical approach, MaxxMine anticipates problems months in advance, thereby enabling users to significantly increase uptime and prevent overmaintenance, says Coetzee.

He adds that the product has real-time enhancement capabilities that directly influence KPIs such as throughput and recovery. It also enables companies to get more out of their operations using advanced analytics and remote monitoring and diagnostic services.

Coetzee tells Mining Weekly that Proficy MaxxMine was implemented in February last year at a gold plant in sub-Saharan Africa, which had difficulty in running a stable and efficient milling circuit.

The plant required extensive intervention from manual operators and the company wanted to acquire a solution to stabilise the process.

“Once the MaxxMine solution had been implemented, the customer’s business outcomes included a 5% throughput increase and a 2% decrease in kilowatt hours per ton – all while maintaining a stable process. The financial benefit to the customer was more than $6-million a year in increased production,” highlights Coetzee.

The MaxxMine solution is used worldwide, with installations in Latin America, North America, South Africa and Australia.

Initially, the software, launched in July 2012, was sold as a standalone package and, as many of the customers at that time were resource-constrained, they were unable to realise the full benefit of the solution.

To mitigate this, the company combined its technology with people and processes and created the Industrial Performance and Reliability Centre (IPRC) – a remote monitoring service staffed with engineering and industry experts who augment customer teams worldwide.

Coetzee describes the IPRC as an extension of the company’s existing staff and operations. He maintains that it is this combination of technology and domain expertise that creates the high-value proposition for the MaxxMine solution.