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OPS 4.0: The future of integration between safety and fleet management

Once regarded as best practice, fleet management is now considered standard practice for mines to be safer and more productive. Hexagon Mining is at the forefront of integrating FMS and safety solutions to elevate fleet management to mission critical, allowing companies to maximize the effectiveness of their fleets while actually improving safety.

BK:  Welcome to HxGN Radio. My name is Brian. And with us today from Hexagon Mining, we’ve got Rob Daw, Chief of Innovation, and Demetre Harris, Product Manager for Operations. We’re going to be discussing the integration of fleet management with safety. Thanks for joining us.

DH:  Thank you.

RD:  Thanks for having us.

BK:  Absolutely! Appreciate it. So, once regarded as best practice, fleet management is now considered standard practice for mines to be safer and more productive. Hexagon Mining is at the forefront of integrating FMS and safety solutions to elevate fleet management to mission critical, allowing companies to maximise the effectiveness of their fleets while improving safety. Obviously mines face huge challenges, from volatile commodity prices to scarcer high-grade ores. But, of course, they’re – they’re expected to be safer and more productive. So why is fleet management so important in this equation?

DH:  Well, fleet management is the web of the operations tied together all the field equipment, with the supervisors, with production, doing more with less. So, in the past, it was more of a case of one supervisor can manage ten pieces of equipment, have eye-to-eye contact. But what fleet management systems do is give you a full view of the picture, so we can get more out of the solution and provide all that data back, so you can make corrections. And this – more than anything right now, is – this is the backbone for operations.

BK:  Oh, nice!

RD:  Yeah, for sure, and I mean, if you look at it, it’s a huge investment the mines put into their equipment, right? That’s one of the – probably the second biggest investment that they put. So, to be able to maximise the utilisation of that fleet is really key and critical to a mining operation. So, having the capability to have technology assisting that load, that’s – that’s the key, the most critical point for us.

DH:  Yes.

BK:  Now, was fleet management once considered best practice, now it’s standard. So how is Hexagon elevating fleet management, you know, to a level that is even safer and more productive?

RD:  Yeah, I think we have a number of technologies in our portfolio, from our Pro and Foundation portfolios in our fleet management area through our Safety portfolios, and I think the integration and the combination of those coming together are really starting to enable operations to not just look at their – how to utilise their equipment better, but also be safer and more proactive in their operation. So, just piecing all the technology together is starting to enable operations to be more productive, safer. And also, understand what they’re doing, when, and why.

DH:  Yeah, Rob pretty much summed it up. Being integrators – I like to say we’re innovative integrators, because overall, tying in safety with being able to protect the people, not only about production and getting the tonnage across, but also taking care of your people and then tying in machine health with operations. So, protecting the people, actually having helped the equipment, overall keeping the mine actually running, producing more. It all ties together.

BK:  Excellent. Now, how important is business analytics, business intelligence, to fleet management etc., and a life-of-mine solution in general?

DH:  So, it’s the wave of the future. Pretty much increasing productivity and efficiency. Taking it to the next level. In the past, it was always about just operating a solution. You know, running the system, optimising it, but not really doing the check-back to see, “Okay, what type of production did we get out? What kind of corrections can we make?” So, with the actual going through and having the analytics and the business intelligence, you’re able to look and say, “Okay, here’s where we are now. Let’s make a change right away.” You know? It’s not more reactive. We’re trying to be proactive. And, you know, this takes us in that right direction.

RD:  Yeah, and I think, adding on to that, we’ve always been really good at the now, and managing our fleet today. But you do need to – and this is not just mining, it’s a lot of industries – it’s being able to look back over time and say, “How did we perform? What did we do right? Where did we go wrong?” Analysing that, and then being able to use that information going forward to be able to be proactive.

DH:  Exactly.

RD:  And I think analytics really plays a massive part in that, to be able to understand those questions.

BK:  Well, you know, Hexagon is well-known for investing a significant portion of revenue into R&D. How is it tackling the challenge of serving customers’ FMS needs today while also developing a solution that will address issues tomorrow?

RD:  Yeah, I mean, as you mentioned, we – we do invest a lot of money into R&D and continually progressing our technology. So, obviously we have a significant user base today, and we are focused on making sure that they are getting the best-of-breed technology and enabling their operations to do their best. So more with less, or more with the same –

BK:  Sure.

RD:  – fleet as what they’ve got. But we’ve also got to keep an eye on innovation, and technology –

DH:  Exactly.

RD:  – and making sure that we can understand the curves of tomorrow, innovate, show value to our clients. So, there are a number of projects that we have running in parallel with our existing portfolios that really – and we’re really excited and keen and eager to start to bring these to market and understand the value to our clients. I think today we have our FMS, we’re looking at our Enterprise portfolio to be able to put it over the top, to take it to the next level. There are a number of things we’re doing on our hardware –

BK:  Mm-hmm.

RD:  – to really take the – our clients to the next level, as well as software. You know, hardware is a great enabler; software really fills a gap as well. So, bringing those two pieces of the puzzle together, I think Hexagon Mining is well positioned, not just for today, but really going into the future as well, and future proofing operations.

DH:  Exactly. And it is – it’s important for us to actually do both, right? We want to make sure we take care of the existing customers while innovating for the future. Failure to take care of your existing customer leaves you with no customers for the future.

BK:  Exactly.

DH:  Failure to look forward to the future and develop a product for the future –

BK:  Yeah.

DH: – puts you in a situation where you have nothing to sell later, so.

BK:  Yeah.

DH:  As Rob hit on, we’re going a direction with our Portfolio suite, integrating all the solutions, and that’s the overall direction of the company.

BK:  Good, good. Well, I’m glad, you know, there are many companies that love to look at the future and forget about today, so I’m glad you’re doing both because –

DH:  Exactly.

BK:  – that’s essential. How else does fleet management fit into Hexagon’s of connecting those areas and mining traditionally separated into silos?

DH:  So, with fleet management in mind, enterprise as well, it’s more about visibility – having more visibility, making it clear to everyone where we are right now as a team. It brings everyone together. I think in the past, the issue with silos is that one group doesn’t know what the other group is achieving, or what are their KPIs, or where they stand today. But actually having FMS solutions, Mine Enterprise Solutions, safety, we know the complete picture. We can see as a whole where we are today, we can get together on a team, go behind the common goal, and succeed and progress. So, overall, that’s the big deal, breaking down those walls, having more visibility, and then, in addition, help to set up processes to integrate the teams. That’s been our key.

RD: To take it even a step further, like, we look at our operational technology and the improvements we can make just on a day-to-day basis. But if we even integrate that further with our Planning suite, so the Mine Plan portfolio, and enabling mines to really get a complete picture on what’s happening in their operation –

BK:  Mm-hmm.

RD:  And reconcile that complete picture. So, what do we plan to do today, versus what we did today, and understanding the variances, and how have we changed, or the variance in that world. It really does enable operations to make spot decisions –

DH:  Exactly.

RD:  – in their operation.

BK:  Good. Alright, now, I know you both travel a lot. In fact, Rob, you know, we were just talking about your travels recently, but you spend obviously plenty of time in mines as well. What’s the feedback from clients when you’re talking to them, when they hear about the direction that Hexagon is taking?

RD:  Yeah, really excited. I mean, the technology portfolio in Hexagon Mining is unparalleled in the mining industry. We cover from exploration, which is the infancy of the mining operation, through to the final product. It’s a really broad portfolio that we can bring to the mining operations, and the capability for us to be able to connect all these dots for an organisation, operation, and benchmark monitor through those – through that whole lifecycle, I guess, is something that’s really wanted and demanded in the mining industry. So, the capability that we bring to the market, a lot of people are excited about. We then bring in even third-party out of mining and bring in things like Geosystems, where we’ve got all the total stations, scanners, the cross-divisional capabilities that we can bring to mining are really exciting, and clients today are wanting it. And I can see tomorrow demanding it.

DH:  Exactly. And that’s the thing, I think you hit the nail on the head. Overall, they want this technology tomorrow, they’re like, “We want it now. We like the picture that you’re painting, we see where you’re going. We’re engaged. We want it. You know, bring it to us. Give us more.” So, we – that’s what we run into constantly. Everyone knows Hexagon Mining and the direction we’re taking in integrating all the solutions, the acquisitions. So we’re a force to be reckoned with, and our customers see that, and they want to be a part of the team. They want to get on this train.

BK:  That’s great! That is exciting too.

DH:  Exactly.

BK:  Good, good, well, glad – glad they’re happy. You know, those are the people that matter, so …

RD:  Exactly.

DH:  Mm-hmm.

BK:  Wonderful. Well, what’s exciting you right now about the future of the FMS technology?

DH:  For me it’s integration, collaborations, working with the different divisions. We’re working with the construction division on some of their technologies with regards to their mobile platform, their machine controls. We’re working with the Innovation Hub on some of the technologies like Xalt, you know … actually seeing all these technologies and now being able to take advantage of it. I think in the past – I’ve been with the company now for good 10, 15 years – in the past it’s been more of a case of, you know, “We have all these technologies, but how do we bring everyone together?” Now I’m seeing it, so that’s really exciting for me. And it makes me engage, to continue on and push forward as well.

RD:  Yeah.

BK:  Good, good.

RD:  I think, when you look at it, there’s so much exciting stuff happening in technology in general, and even outside of Hexagon, right? And looking at some of those user cases and how that can apply to the mining industry, that’s what excites me, as much as the collaboration and innovation that we’re doing internally. So, again, we’ve – we’ve got our suite of technology today, but applying some of these learnings, methodologies, new technologies tomorrow, and making it easier for our clients to use our systems. And as we said at the very beginning, it’s really focusing back on doing more with what you have today, or ultimately doing more with less. So, if we can apply any new technologies, any other areas … obviously there are a number of things we’ve got internally that we’re working on that, unfortunately, we can’t let you know exactly what we’re doing today.

DH:  Yeah.

RD:  But it is really exciting and it’s awesome to be a part of, and really look forward to having the feedback and engaging with our clients tomorrow to understand how that technology’s going to help them.

BK:  That’s great! Well, and you can always go to too, to keep up to date, you know, when these things are officially released, you know what’s going on. Technologies are coming to you, so very, very exciting, gentlemen.

DH: Constantly, yeah.

RD:  Thank you.

BK:  Demetre, Rob, thank you very much appreciate, your time today.

DH:  No problem. Thank you.

RD:  Thank you, appreciate it.

BK:  Absolutely. And more information, more episodes, you can always go over to Thank you so much for listening. Have a great day.