JV Article: How to mine the future with Illumiti ERP solutions

Mining operations at the Galaxy Lithium mine in Ravensthorpe, Western Australia. Credit: jasonbennee/iStock.

To build and run a successful mining operation has never been more complicated – sustainability, workforce management, supply chain constraints, and community engagement are constant challenges. Those needs come on top of the standard finance, procurement, inventory and maintenance needs shared by all operators. And the future looks even more challenging.

Fortunately, Illumiti enables better business outcomes with cost-effective, digital solutions to enterprise resource planning (ERP) that harness the power of the cloud and puts improved productivity at the operator’s fingertips.

Illumiti does this by taking SAP software and tailoring it to the core activities common at all mines and mills. By digitizing the core, process efficiencies are gained, decision making is improved, costs are controlled, revenues grow, and employees are empowered.

“No matter where in the world they are, most mines perform core processes in the same manner – finance, procurement, inventory and maintenance,” Illumiti’s head of its mining division Rory Friedman told The Northern Miner.

“Our goal is to leverage industry best practices and implement a system as quickly and responsibly as possible.  This accelerates time to value and gives various stakeholders visibility into what is actually happening, giving them a platform to continuously improve over time.”

Companies setting out to establish ERP protocols for their sites often fall into the trap of thinking that they have to create the perfect system. Such an approach necessitates making hundreds of decisions upfront and taking as long as two years before improvements to the business are seen, he said.

Instead, Illumiti has created a modular template with the necessary processes common to all mine and mill operations.

“The solution is 80% pre-built,” Friedman said. “This allows us to focus our efforts on the 20% that may be unique to a particular operation.”

Implementation of the template can take as little as 12 to 16 weeks.

The software is generally introduced as early as the post feasibility study, before construction begins. The modular nature of the template means that the capabilities needed earliest can be implemented first and additional capabilities added as the mining operation matures. By the time production starts, the core modules are in place and customized to the unique needs of the project.

“You learn by doing and by using,” Friedman said. “Our goal is to implement the templated solution and make it perfect as you use it.  You focus on what you actually need, not on what you think you need.”

He likens implementing ERP to building a house. Once the elements common to all houses – the foundation, roof, electrical and plumbing – are in place, owners can move in. Then the focus moves to interior design and decorating to create a unique space.

The benefits of using ERP software

What Illumiti offers is a platform to get a business system running very, very quickly and implementing more efficiencies earlier.

Entering data is done on a tablet in the field. A maintenance superintendent can walk through the mill, for example, and pull up history on a piece of equipment, see if parts are available, and generate a maintenance request. Gone are the days of returning to the office (which may be miles away) and entering data manually from notes jotted on paper.

The digitized approach helps eliminate errors that may creep in when a second party is entering data. This frees the supervisor or manager to become more of a problem solver because he/she can look at the operation as a whole and trust the software to organize the data.

“We can knock down the silos between finance, supply chain and maintenance. This allows our clients to create better integrations between stakeholders across a business process creating holistic efficiencies and thereby streamlining the operation,” he added.

Process automations and machine learning can be leveraged in a variety of areas, one of which is to scan incoming accounts payable (AP) invoices quickly and accurately then allowing the system to perform a three-way match against goods or services received.  This frees up staff to manage by exception and focus on analysis of data as opposed to data entry.

Gone are the days of extracting data into multiple spreadsheets and performing various analyses.  Using the standard embedded key performance indicators (KPIs), SAP allows a business to set targets across process chains and also perform peer comparisons setting the stage for improvement.  Because all the data is in one system, drilling down to get necessary information and understanding the root cause of a problem is simpler with ad hoc reporting and advanced analytical capabilities.

In simplest words, the tools are now available to allow the business to focus its time on decision making as opposed to key stroking.

The modular implementation model is gaining a global following. Illumiti has already helped miners in 35 countries around the world reap the benefits of a faster, leaner approach to digitization.

— The preceding joint venture article is PROMOTED CONTENT sponsored by Illumiti and produced in co-operation with The Northern Miner. Visit illumiti.com for more information.


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