Tag Archives: ERP

RPMGlobal futureproofs inventory management for miners

RPMGlobal has completed the acquisition of IMAFS, adding a cloud delivered, inventory management and forecasting software solution to a suite of technology solutions that use proprietary artificial intelligence algorithms to greatly improve inventory management.

IMAFS analyses inventory data from corporate Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems to deduce the optimal timeframe for inventory orders, costs, and order frequency. It supports not only several forecasting methods, but also takes advantage of AI and machine-learning capabilities to optimise the calculation of the key variables in inventory management, RPMGlobal says.

The ‘forward looking’ predictive algorithms become particularly powerful when used in conjunction with RPMGlobal’s asset management system, AMT, the company added. AMT uses a Dynamic Life Cycle Costing engine that forecasts, in real time, every maintenance event for a piece of equipment, at a component level, until the end of its economic life.

The future demand of an organisation’s assets, combined with the optimisation algorithms within IMAFS, are the critical pieces of the puzzle to optimise procurement and management of critical parts and components, according to RPMGlobal.

“The delivery of an integrated AMT and IMAFS offering delivers an industry-first, predictive solution with more certainty of the future and less reliance on historical data,” it said.

ERP systems typically use historical consumption to predict future requirements, which, according to RPMGlobal, has its limitations in a volatile maintenance and repair focused industry such as mining.

“This future demand knowledge will further improve the accuracy of parts availability, reducing inventories, decreasing stockouts and reducing equipment downtimes,” it said.

IMAFS has been proven in industry, according to RPMGlobal, with one operation reducing 78% of stockouts for items with high usage, while concurrently reducing stock levels by 14% for the items controlled by IMAFS. Another operation was able to reduce global inventory by 15% within the first 10 months without any diminution of service levels.

RPMGlobal Chief Executive Officer, Richard Mathews, said: “The company is leading the way in the practical application of innovative technology that increased miners’ operational competitiveness. With our growing suite of optimisation products, RPMGlobal has built a capacity to help global operations extract more value where it counts. We are excited to be utilising AI technologies to improve the efficiency of mining operations across the asset management function.”

He added: “We intend to build on this AI capability by including additional variables in the models that may impact availability for our customers operating in remote locations. This experience will also assist us as we look to use these same advanced techniques to further optimise mine planning and scheduling.”

RPMGlobal adds predictive element to mine maintenance solutions with IMAFS buy

RPMGlobal has entered into a share purchase agreement to acquire Canada-headquartered, inventory optimisation management software company, IMAFS.

As a Software-as-a-Service and cloud-delivered provider of inventory optimisation software, IMAFS has more than 20 years experience developing and selling its flagship IMAFS product, RPMGlobal says.

The IMAFS solution is an inventory management and forecasting software solution that connects to an organisation’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and uses proprietary artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to greatly improve inventory management, according to the company. The product has been designed and built for the sole purpose of optimising the inventory holdings of large asset-intensive companies.

RPM CEO and Managing Director, Richard Mathews (left, pictured with David Batkin, Executive General Manager – Technology Consulting), said: “We are very pleased to have concluded negotiations to acquire IMAFS and are really looking forward to welcoming the Quebec-based IMAFS team into the wider RPM family. The product is a great fit with the existing RPM product suite and further builds on our cloud and optimisation offerings.”

RPM explained: “In the mining industry, management and optimisation, specifically the maintenance, repair and operational (MRO) inventory is critical to ensuring operational continuity and attainment of production targets.

“The key to accurately forecasting any type of inventory is understanding future demand. Mining MRO inventory optimisation is often a unique challenge to solve due to low volume and/or erratic turnover with long lead times, high component costs and the complex logistics associated with operating in remote locations leading to companies over-stocking parts inventory and tying up capital unnecessarily.”

When it comes to mining, properly managing MRO inventory is vital, RPM says. If the plant, or key pieces of equipment (loaders, trucks, conveyors, etc) stop operating because spare parts are not available, a costly operational problem develops. A poor inventory optimisation process can result in a company ordering inventory urgently due to reactive inventory processes rather than predictive inventory processes.

IMAFS has developed a hosted subscription service that, RPM says, allows inventory data to be extracted from a company’s ERP product or Computer Maintenance Management system and analysed programmatically.

IMAFS’ proprietary and cutting-edge algorithms also include AI logic incorporating parameters such as transport mode, carrier, weather, customs, seasonality, holidays, availability, and many other data points. IMAFS will also identify excess or obsolete stock that can be returned or disposed of, according to RPM.

Mathews added: “Four years ago, we acquired iSolutions because we understood the importance of planning maintenance in parallel with production. AMT stands alone when it comes to forecasting the lifecycle cost of an asset using its dynamic lifecycle costing engine. This real-time engine accurately predicts when customers will require major parts and components.

“In other words, by going back to first principles (as AMT does), we can predict the future demand that can be factored into IMAFS’ advanced AI algorithms. That future demand is the critical piece of the puzzle so that IMAFS can optimise procurement and management of critical parts and components.”

Mathews says the AMT solution is used by the major OEM’s and their dealer network. These organisations can take forecasts from their customers into the IMAFS product, thereby assisting them in optimising their spare parts inventory.

“While we haven’t had a product to do this in the past, we have been involved in a number of discussions with dealers and miners to do exactly this,” he said.

Robert Lamarre, IMAFS Founder, said: “It is immensely pleasing to see the passion emanating from the team at RPM to championing inventory optimisation and cloud-driven enterprise integration. We are convinced that the IMAFS product suite will benefit from increased investment and the sales and marketing support that RPM can offer these products right around the world.”

Following completion, Lamarre will continue his involvement with promoting IMAFS through a third-party business partner authorised to market and distribute IMAFS products to customers in North America outside of mining and resources.

The acquisition is expected to close on November 25, 2020 subject to several conditions precedent and customary completion events.

BME keeps supply up amid lockdown as it prepares for COVID-19-related business changes

COVID-19 lockdown restrictions around Southern Africa have thrown the spotlight on mines’ supply security, with key inputs like explosives and blasting services among these.

According to Albie Visser, General Manager at blasting specialist BME, mines have relied heavily on the flexibility and ingenuity of service providers to keep the supply chain functioning.

“The first weeks of the lockdown were challenging, especially regarding the logistics of moving our emulsion product across national borders from South Africa into other southern African countries,” Visser said. “Different countries – and even different border posts – applied different rules, making it difficult to know what the exact compliance requirements were.”

Albie Visser, General Manager at BME

He noted the pandemic had caught most authorities unaware, leading to regulations being hurriedly developed and enforced.

“In some cases, the regulatory requirements were not practical,” he said. “At one border, for instance, drivers were required to have a COVID-19 test not older than three days – but in South Africa it took nine days to get results from a test through normal channels.”

This meant that innovative thinking was called for, and BME worked closely with its own suppliers and the mines themselves. While some deliveries were initially delayed by border issues, the company’s responsiveness and agility kept up its deliveries to site, it said.

National lockdowns in the region affected the mining sectors differently from country to country.

“South Africa’s lockdown saw demand for emulsion drop sharply at first, but this has almost returned to normal as mines ramped up to full production where possible,” he said. “While mining in Botswana has slowed, Namibia’s mining industry has been more resilient and our supplies to Zambia are almost unaffected.”

Site precautions

In South Africa, BME is working on many mine sites, with an average of three teams per site. By conducting risk assessments and adapting its existing safety systems, BME quickly developed its own COVID-19 protocols in line with national safety regulations – even before some of the mines finalised their own systems.

Among the measures BME has applied is to divide staff into small groups to keep closer control of movements and restrict infections. For example, each group will stay together for transport purposes, and will use only one specified bus.

“Each bus, which has a thermometer for daily testing, will collect staff from their homes,” Visser said. “We know exactly who they live with, for purposes of future contact tracing.”

It does mean more buses arriving at the work site, but any infection picked up can then be controlled and traced within that group. There is also another screening test at the mine site when staff arrive, and the necessary social distancing is observed.

“To date our measures have been very effective, with no COVID-19 infections at any of our operations,” he said.

Overcoming barriers

Outside of South Africa, there have been some notable achievements in the face of COVID-19 related lockdowns.

Joe Keenan, Managing Director of BME, relayed a few of these.

Joe Keenan, Managing Director of BME

“Among the logistical achievements, for instance, was the timeous shipping of resources to customers in Australia and West Africa – which was done in anticipation of the lockdown,” he said.

BME was also able to continue satisfying the requirements of one of Zambia’s largest copper producers, despite the difficulties of negotiating border regulations.

At the same time as this, the company is continuing to roll out large projects for major customers, while keeping most of its staff working remotely. This includes the recruitment of about 170 people for one key project, and the continuation of on-site testing.

Automation, remote optionality

From the manufacturing perspective, BME’s facilities are also well positioned to keep feeding the supply chain even under lockdown conditions, according to Ralf Hennecke, BME’s General Manager: Technology and Marketing.

“Most of our production plant processes are highly automated, so we can readily apply the necessary social distancing and minimise staff without affecting production,” Hennecke said. “This applies to our explosives facilities as well as our factories for non-electric and electronic detonators.”

Ralf Hennecke BME General Manager: Technology and Marketing

BME has put in considerable investment in the automation of its manufacturing plant at Delmas in Mpumalanga, South Africa, for instance. While the driver for this process was primarily the quality of its emulsion product, the effect has been to enhance security of supply while applying strict social distancing protocols, it said.

Keenan said: “At our facility in Losberg, Gauteng, where we manufacture our AXXIS™ equipment and non-electric detonation systems, there is also a high level of automation. We can therefore accommodate the COVID-19 regulations without affecting the value chain.”

Even the company’s remote bulk emulsion plants – often located on customer’s mine sites – can be operated with minimal staff.

Hennecke highlighted that BME’s technology, including planning and reporting platforms like BLASTMAP™ and XPLOLOG™, also assist mines to reduce opportunities for COVID-19 transmission.

“Our technological innovations allow data to be digitally captured, stored and transferred to the mine’s operational and administrative systems,” he said. “This can be done safely with only a few human touchpoints, and also in real time for greater efficiency.”

The future

While the current efforts are to keep mining operations running normally, the future will see considerable changes in how suppliers like BME support customers, according to Keenan.

“The leveraging of technological innovation to keep mine sites safe and efficient becomes an even more vital imperative for technology providers,” he said.

Operationally, there will be ongoing focus on social distancing and digital processes to reduce proximity between employees.

With strict requirements limiting face to face interaction, more communication with customers will also have to be conducted digitally.

These communication systems will also have to be adapted to streamline the sales process and keep contracts flowing, according to BME.

“Creative solutions will need to be found for how to manage tenders, for example, especially where site visits are required,” Kennan said. “There are still various practical issues to be resolved so that normal procurement can continue.”

In terms of further expediting the shift to non-contact interaction with customers, BME’s new enterprise resource planning system enhances its shared services capacity, allowing less paperwork and more electronic documentation and processing.

COSOL to expand SAP, ERP offering to Ok Tedi Mining

COSOL is to expand the work it is currently providing Ok Tedi Mining, in Papua New Guinea, with the ASX-listed company set to enhance and optimise the exploitation and efficiencies of its core SAP ERP business systems for the copper-gold miner.

The company is currently providing the miner with special projects work as part of a digital transformation program and support services.

The expanded engagement is valued at approximately A$2.2 million ($1.4 million)/y over two years.

COSOL said: “The expanded engagement builds on the existing support arrangement provided by COSOL for Ok Tedi Mining’s SAP, Ariba, SuccessFactors, core HR and payroll systems.

“In addition to the continued core systems support, COSOL is driving the expanded digital transformation program focusing on digital workspace collaboration and business intelligence.”

A key component of the program will be the sustainment and modernisation of the copper and gold miner’s underlying IT infrastructure to underpin the move to a hybrid cloud platform, COSOL said.

COSOL CEO, Scott McGowan, said: “This expansion of services reinforces COSOL’s engagement approach in being more than simply a technology services provider. While our extensive capability in enterprise asset management generally, and SAP specifically, underpins our operations, it is our understanding of our clients’ business drivers, priorities and the underlying data that supports our clients’ digital transformation.

“Flexibility to adjust to, and provide value in, the dynamic business environments our clients operate continues to be a hallmark of COSOL’s growth and success – both domestically and internationally.”

Dingo improves Trakka predictive maintenance capabilities with AI

Dingo says its new Trakka Predictive Analytics solution uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict impending equipment failures with confidence, allowing customers to proactively perform corrective maintenance actions to minimise downtime and optimise asset life.

The release comes around five months since the company laid the groundwork for the new solution with an announcement that it would introduce practical machine learning models built using real customer data and targeted at specific industry problems from January.

The new Trakka solution includes a series of sophisticated predictive analytics models to provide anomaly detection and failure prediction for asset intensive industries, the company said. These models are built by uniting failure data from actual equipment, “Dingo’s industry expertise and data science to address common component-specific failure modes, such as final drive gear teeth wear”.

Powered by a proprietary machine-learning library, the Trakka Predictive Analytics solution can, Dingo says, predict the time until asset/component failure with a high degree of accuracy. The company said its customers will reap the benefits of these remaining useful life (RUL) models (pictured) as they:

  • Reduce unexpected failures and downtime;
  • Reduce repair cost as scheduling is optimised;
  • Reduce loss of wasted potential in capital;
  • Reduce unnecessary maintenance activities;
  • Reduce personnel and process risk by creating a safer and more controlled environment;
  • Improve component life by acting earlier;
  • Improve confidence in planning component replacements;
  • Improve equipment availability and reliability;
  • Improve budgeting and the bottom line, and;
  • Improve business related processes such as procurement, logistics and management.

Dingo said: “Before any predictions can be made, Dingo’s domain experts and data science team work with a customer’s historical failure and condition monitoring data to deploy or adapt existing models or create new machine learning models to correctly identify failures within the customer’s fleet.

“This process typically involves data collecting, cleansing and validation to ensure model outputs are as accurate as possible. The transition to online predictive analytics is complete once the data ingestion pipeline is ready and the models are fully trained and tested.”

The predictive models are designed with scalability in mind, Dingo said, meaning they can be easily re-trained to work with a broad range of asset and failure mode problems experienced by real mining operations, making them highly reusable.

“The models are continuously optimised through ongoing validation and the input of new data and equipment performance information,” Dingo said.

And, the platform connects a broad range of systems and software to provide data surrounding asset health, including enterprise resource planning & enterprise asset management systems, computerised maintenance management systems, fleet management systems and all forms of condition monitoring data, including oil analysis, visual inspections, sensor data, vibration and thermography.