Alejandro Sánchez
CEO
Abacus IT
Luis Valenzuela
Luis Valenzuela
Director of the Project Management Office
Abacus IT
/
View from the Top

Technology Helps Cut Operational Risks

By Pedro Alcalá | Tue, 04/05/2022 - 12:47

Q: What have been the main developments for the Mexican mining industry regarding the implementation of software solutions?

AS: Our clients in the mining sector are increasingly betting on technology. The process of decision-making is accelerated through these solutions. Distance, time constraints and remote working have made the use of our software both critical and imperative. Concerns about health and security further add to the incentives. The surge of software adoption has been significant. We see that our clients in other sectors are also turning toward technology, approving projects faster than before.

LV: What has helped eliminate barriers toward the implementation of technology solutions is greater access to data networks. This opens up various possibilities to collect operational information in real time. It allows us to create solutions that generate more data, too. The software enables personnel management and decision-making processes. All the integral information is uploaded by these systems so that companies can perform high-level analyses or take action based on direct sources. Abacus’ focus has been to strengthen the cybersecurity of our app and integrate other tools for a more automatized flow of information.

Q: How does Abacus’ software achieve cost savings in mining operations?

AS: One of the main challenges that the mining industry faces is ensuring secure operations. Many shareholders have not yet identified this as a key hurdle in the mission to optimize costs, increase efficiency, reduce the number of accidents and optimize the budget. Accidents have heavy repercussions. Therefore, companies should bet on technology to reduce those risks by measuring them, encountering trends and finding areas of opportunity through data analysis. It is also important to have this data available as fast as possible, despite the probable limitations of connectivity in mines. We have been working closely with our clients to tackle this challenge and have made great progress in the past year.

LV: According to the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS), the average cost of an accident is US$10,000. The accident rate in the mining sector is one of the highest of all industries. Focusing on security and accident prevention is, therefore, important to reduce those costs.  For this reason, the Abacus Checklist app is a powerful tool that allows companies to manage the entire cycle of the inspection management system, from design to planning, execution and information analysis. Therefore, it becomes a necessary driver for the leadership of every mining company  to take results to a new performance level. It is compatible with Abacus Balanced Scorecard to take the data generated to a strategic decision-making level.

Q: What is the importance of this connectivity for Abacus’ solution?

LV: Our app will mainly be deployed as a cloud service. Fortunately, mining’s connectivity has improved enough to make this viable. Abacus has a strong focus on cloud services, whether as software as a service (SaaS) or with physical components added. This allows us to create a good on-site option in places where connectivity is complicated.

AS: The company’s app has a distributed scheme of servers that recollects and processes data when connectivity is available. Moreover, we automatize this data collection through tablets or smartphones. When the app or device connects, it synchronizes automatically. This connectivity allows users to confront issues in the shortest possible time.

Q: What is your 2022 deployment strategy for this tool?

AS: Our app is at the product validation stage in cooperation with our pilot clients. It is functioning in various industries outside of mining, such as construction and the inspection business. In April 2022, Abacus will release its minimum viable product, with an incentive program to boost use by early adopters. From there, the company will start the first improvement toward a 2.0 version. We have already noted a positive response from miners and consultants.

Q: How are your solutions adapted to systems that still have physical documentation components?

AS: The collection of evidence will always be important, especially to ensure regulatory compliance. A lot of this evidence is generated on paper, so we have created strategies for document management to ensure the minimum use of paper. The Abacus Checklist is an app capable of capturing and adding evidence that can be viewed as a scanned document as well. Additions can be made through phone pictures or videos taken with the app. This also allows the app to facilitate documentation while adding some components toward easier automatization. Nevertheless, the challenge of documentation will remain, even more so in traditional industries such as mining.

LV: Establishing and enforcing security strategies is really about generating traceable actions. This trackability is important because it allows companies to follow up on who acted, where actions were taken and if they were taken at all. A good digital platform can register all of that.

Q: What are your main ambitions for 2022?

AS: We want to launch the app as part of Abacus’ solutions. Moreover, the company aims to take advantage of its decade-plus experience in the mining industry by detecting further areas of opportunity regarding decision-making, strategic planning and document management. Our Checklist solution should contribute significantly here.

Further on, we want to explore new business areas and create other directly linked apps. The company is looking to create a trustworthy digital environment that is easy to implement and that reduces the time needed to adopt new technology. When clients see the benefits of saved time and costs it will accelerate adoption, even in an industry not known for its drive to innovate digitally. This is a challenge we have confronted over the years.

LV: As software developers, we need to ensure our products and services can generate value without turning into massive, costly endeavors. We want to implement projects that can generate short-term value for its final users, too.

 

Abacus IT develops Java EE business applications under a unified process (UP) methodology. It analyzes business processes, designs technical and architectural software solutions and carries out software testing. For 10 years, the company has worked with major mining companies in Mexico and South America.

Photo by:   Abacus IT
Pedro Alcalá Pedro Alcalá Senior Journalist & Industry Analyst