3D Software Solutions Driving Force for ChangeWed, 10/21/2015 - 13:23
As the world’s top provider of business planning, design, and production solutions, Dassault Systèmes (Dassault) has been working successfully in the transportation and mobility industries for many years. It is now trying to expand its reach into mining and natural resources. By incorporating technologies that have already been successful in other industries, Dassault aims to drive productivity in this market. “Dassault provides clients with virtual universes, enabling them to imagine sustainable innovations,” describes Warren Johnstone, Vice-President of Partner Success at Dassault. “Our vision is to improve predictability, efficiency, safety, and sustainability of natural resources by providing solutions that model and simulate our planet. Mexico has always been an important country for us because of its importance in the minerals and mining commodity market. We have a very positive view of the industry, particularly of precious metals, base metals, and bulk commodities, which includes industrial minerals and cement.” Dassault provides solutions that are applicable for all commodities across all types of mines, spanning their entire life. Johnstone sees a prime opportunity for growth by introducing these technologies due to their ability to increase efficiency and drive innovation, which he hopes will help transform the mining industry
As one of Dassault’s key partners, AdN Consulting has been delivering ITC solutions to the Mexican market for over 13 years. The company represents a multi-disciplinary team of experienced and technically capable personnel that complement each other with various specialties. AdN’s primary service is to advise its customers on the best decisions when considering new technologies or solutions. By working closely with Dassault Systèmes, AdN intends to utilize its expertise to bring a plethora of benefits to the mining industry in Mexico. Jorge Enrique Alvarez Alvarez, Director General of AdN Consulting, provides some insight into the collaborative efforts his company is making with Dassault. “Together with Dassault’s natural resources division, we have been visiting existing GEOVIA customers in Mexico and receiving a very positive response from them,” he explains. “We are also establishing a strong network of support services to expand the use of 3DS software and to expand client knowledge beyond the improvement of productivity.” With the information retrieved from flagship clients such as Goldcorp, Barrick Gold, Coeur Mining, Mineral del Norte, and First Majestic, AdN Consulting and Dassault have found a willingness to change among mining customers, which leads to them embracing 3DS solutions as a platform to boost innovation and transform their businesses. “This year, the mining industry is facing lower commodity prices, but instead of companies continually looking to cut costs in this environment, we have found a universal desire to improve operations. Cutting costs alone will not solve the challenges faced by the mining industry today,” states Alvarez. In the same vein, Johnstone believes that an investment in people is required to attain this transformation, highlighting Dassault’s dedication to training. “We have the necessary expertise for teaching teams how to automate a scheduling process, or how to introduce mine production management systems such as GEOVIA InSite™,” he explains. “People must change their perceptions of how technology is integrated into their dayto-day functions. Investment in technology is important, but investment in the people using the technology is essential for success.”
In order to further jumpstart the psychological metamorphosis of mining professionals, Dassault has established a range of university programs which are designed to train future mining personnel how to use the tools and solutions that will shape the industry. According to Johnstone, the new generation of CEOs and executives engage in in-depth discussions regarding the adoption of technology, similar to how some automotive and manufacturing executives did 30 years ago. “These dedicated programs enable us to roll out the tools and the training to the students, giving them a familiarization with the solutions before they experience them in the field,” states Johnstone. “We are planting the seeds for the next three to five years to ensure there are enough knowledgeable and capable operators in place to deal with the next surge in mining.”
A typical profile of an operator who is responsible for a company’s software management, particularly in the case of GEOVIA Whittle™, is that of a strategic planner with a background in mine engineering who ideally holds expertise in the economics of mining. According to Johnstone, Whittle has become a verb in the mining industry, one which is associated with long-term financial planning during the life of a mine. He explains that a mining company with an understanding of the benefits of optimization will typically assign some of their best strategic engineers to the operation of Whittle, but is keen to stress that this should be ubiquitous, and that everybody should be running regular optimizations on their operations to increase efficiency and ensure they are mining to plan. Efficiencies are driven by a better understanding of the existing processes as well as a detailed view of the entire operation. This insight requires infrastructure that can capture information in real-time and is then able to utilize that information. The solutions that Dassault can bring to the mining industry are critical to its transformation, both for changing how operations are performed, and for providing reliable information that its customers can stand behind. By providing advanced scheduling tools, like GEOVIA MineSched™, and the services and training associated with these types of tools, Dassault hopes to address the need to improve cost management and get the most out of a mining operation. “We believe in providing localized language and support to our users,” explains Johnstone. “We pride ourselves on having a presence in every major mining center in the world, and differentiate ourselves by having localized services and operations that cater to our customer requirements. To achieve that, we often leverage local expertise and build partnerships with companies who know the market, providing they have existing relationships with customers, and are able to articulate the 3DS value proposition.”
This very value proposition is also shaped by the large portfolio of solutions that allows 3DS to address the entire life of mine. Dassault has been making strategic acquisitions to bolster this portfolio, with a few important ones being closed in the last couple of years. In September 2014, Dassault acquired Quintiq, a strategic planning solution provider. The company’s solutions have been used to plan some of the most challenging supply chains in the world, such as those of Lafarge, ArcelorMittal, and Novelis. In July 2013, the company also closed a deal to acquire Apriso, an American designer of manufacturing software. Apriso’s solutions are already used in manufacturing operations by the likes of Alstom, Bombardier, Cummins, and Lockheed Martin. At the time, Dassault said this would allow it to “close the loop between design, engineering, manufacturing, and customer experience. “Such acquisitions have expanded our offerings far deeper into mining. As leaders in immersive 3D experience environments, we are at the forefront of leading change in the mining industry,” says Johnstone.
Particularly through the spread of GEOVIA, Dassault has been a pioneer in the area of collaborative technologies for some time. The company’s main mission is to simplify the complexity of mining by providing a best-in-class platform that unifies the complicated processes associated with the business. Johnstone believes that Dassault will achieve this by continuing to offer a collaborative environment that improves data integrity across the entire mine operation, and by ensuring the quality of the data is maintained, regardless of where it originates from. “Often, remote mine site data needs to be shared with a corporate office,” explains Johnstone. “By providing a secure data agnostic platform, we are able to maintain data integrity and let the mine focus on the business at hand while delivering key information to the stakeholders.”