Mandela Mining Precinct (MMP) Real-Time Information Management System programme manager JJ Verhaeghe has outlined key insights for the manufacturing industry, gleaned from learnings from a survey on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) in the country’s mining industry.
He was speaking on the second day of industry cluster the Mining Equipment Manufacturers of South Africa’s Mind Shift conference, titled: Innovation, Digitisation and Skills in the South African Mining Supply Chain.
Verhaeghe’s insights were gathered from a 2022/23 study conducted by the MMP and its partners, which looked at digital, 4IR and environmental, social and governance (ESG). It surveyed more than 20 CEOs, who also nominated executives to provide additional practical insights. Moreover, three unions were engaged.
It entailed qualitative and quantitative interviews and questionnaires, Verhaeghe indicated.
He pointed out that the survey showed that CEOs were clear about the responsibility and need to go digital, and take ownership for the strategy they set in this regard, which was then translated into execution.
Compared with previous studies, this one showed that companies had roadmaps and technological archives to follow.
Verhaeghe said that implications for the manufacturing industry include that it is clear that mining industries are setting the pace in the 4IR and digitalisation space, and they now need to come on board and help define the detail of what this will be.
He added that with mining companies driving the pace of innovation more than ever before, service and solution providers needed to align with this. He explained that mining firms were very clear on what they wanted, but may not know the intricacies of how to achieve this. Therefore, this provided an opportunity to assist miners with the designs, or frames, to engender the desired end results.
Moreover, Verhaeghe emphasised that service and solution providers needed to become part of the broader ecosystem when it came to ESG.
Verhaeghe also indicated that a big issue for mining companies was that they are stuck with legacy systems, and what needde to be solved was how to bring in these heavily capital-invested machines and infrastructure on board with what was new in terms of technology.
Also, he noted that mining companies had identified areas which were important to them, where they can apply 4IR for big wins, and service and solutions providers can capitalise on this to provide solutions.
Importantly, he said that mining companies want access to actionable information, that is, any data that solutions providers' and service provider’s solutions generate and is usable, which they would want to leverage.
Verhaeghe informed that mining companies had highlighted that greater collaboration was also required.
Verhaeghe added that mining companies believe that more could be done. While there was progress, he noted that they believed that service and solutions providers could bolster their efforts.