MESCA na­tional man­ager

The Australian Mining Review - - FRONT PAGE -

The fu­ture com­pet­i­tive­ness of Aus­tralia’s min­ing in­dus­try is syn­ony­mous with the health of its Min­ing Equip­ment Tech­nolo­gies and Ser­vices (METS) sec­tor. But how can com­pa­nies stay ahead amid an ever-chang­ing dig­i­tal land­scape?

AS tech­nol­ogy rapidly ad­vances, the op­por­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges for METS com­pa­nies in­crease with it. spoke with Min­ing and En­ergy Ser­vices Coun­cil of Aus­tralia ( MESCA) na­tional man­ager about the next wave of growth for the sec­tor and how his in­dus­try as­so­ci­a­tion fa­cil­i­tates col­lab­o­ra­tion.

El­iz­a­beth Fabri Alex Stanojevic Q. What does MESCA have planned for 2018?

The Min­ing and En­ergy Ser­vices Coun­cil of Aus­tralia (MESCA) is part of the Aus­tralian In­dus­try Group (Ai Group). MESCA pri­mar­ily en­gages with two key stake­holder groups; sup­pli­ers ( mem­bers) and project pro­po­nents.

In 2018, MESCA is plan­ning to de­liver a busy sched­ule of events around ma­jor projects and sup­plier op­por­tu­ni­ties across Aus­tralia.

We’re look­ing to have 10-12 ma­jor project brief­ings around the coun­try this year – that’s our wish list.

2018 will also see MESCA ramp up its pol­icy and ad­vo­cacy ca­pa­bil­ity. This will be done in part­ner­ship with Ai Group and will re­sult in an in­creased abil­ity for mem­ber’s voices to be heard at both State and Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment lev­els.

Q. What are the big­gest is­sues fac­ing the sec­tor at present?

• Dig­i­tal dis­rup­tion – This in­cludes ev­ery­thing from cy­ber se­cu­rity ( many com­pa­nies are not tak­ing this risk se­ri­ously enough), IoT, In­dus­try 4.0, and dig­i­tal sup­ply chains. Com­pa­nies must have ro­bust in­te­grated sys­tems in place to ac­com­mo­date these and sim­i­lar threats.

• En­ergy se­cu­rity/pol­icy/pric­ing – these ar­eas are cur­rently in state of flux and com­pa­nies must adopt proac­tive strate­gic ap­proaches to man­age risk. Cur­rently Aus­tralia has no clear en­ergy plan and in­creas­ing power prices are chal­leng­ing the vi­a­bil­ity of many in­dus­try sec­tors. As a na­tion we also need to agree upon a range of key is­sues in­clud­ing: what is the fu­ture of coal? What is the best way to in­te­grate and phase in re­new­able en­ergy sources? What will the im­pacts on the en­vi­ron­ment be, what role should gas play, and what is the true po­ten­tial of HELE coal power sta­tions or car­bon cap­ture tech­nol­ogy? These is­sues re­quire fur­ther de­bate and sen­si­ble pol­icy out­comes.

• In­no­va­tion – Aus­tralia must in­vest more to sup­port the de­vel­op­ment of an in­no­va­tion cul­ture. This must be an on­go­ing process to as­sist Aus­tralian METS com­pa­nies to in­no­vate. We can never stop and must al­ways stay vig­i­lant oth­er­wise we will be over­taken by oth­ers that do.

• So­cial li­cence – The im­por­tance of so­cial li­cence to min­ing and en­ergy projects has in­creased ex­po­nen­tially in re­cent times.

Q. FMG Christ­mas Creek gen­eral man­ager Jim Her­ring was re­cently quoted say­ing one of the big is­sues fac­ing METS com­pa­nies is that in many cases mine man­agers have never heard of them. Do you agree that mar­ket­ing is an is­sue?

I have no doubt the mine man­agers have a lot of peo­ple knock­ing on their doors. I my­self have had a lot of cold calls that have come from peo­ple I have never heard from be­fore, but you look at the prod­uct and it doesn’t take long to fig­ure out whether the prod­uct – re­gard­less of whether it is a known brand or not – is of value to you.

For mar­ket­ing in gen­eral it varies – there’s no stan­dard re­sponse. Some com­pa­nies are ex­tremely ma­ture and have highly so­phis­ti­cated sys­tems and have got great web­sites, and e-mar­ket­ing and e-com­merce all sorted.

Some com­pa­nies still don’t have a web­site on the smaller end of town but they are still in busi­ness and do­ing quite well. I think those sorts of places need to have that on their agenda for their ca­pa­bil­ity de­vel­op­ment and im­prove it.

There’s cer­tainly a space there for mar­ket­ing to be im­proved, but some com­pa­nies are do­ing it very well. I think most of them would know some of the de­fi­cien­cies they have got; it is more about ded­i­cat­ing re­sources and pri­ori­tis­ing them.

Q. I un­der­stand In­dus­try 4.0 is the next fo­cus area for METS com­pa­nies. How does this com­pare to In­dus­try 3.0?

In­dus­try 4.0 is about ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing. Com­pa­nies can­not af­ford to ig­nore the dis­rup­tion po­ten­tial of this tech­nol­ogy.

In­dus­try 4.0 dif­fers from 3.0 by its em­pha­sis on cy­ber phys­i­cal sys­tems, which is a fancy way of say­ing that machines and sen­sors are con­nected via wire­less or re­mote tech­nol­ogy.

One of the best ex­am­ples of this is the new wave of track­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tems in un­der­ground mines.

Wi Fi tech­nol­ogy has been adapted to func­tion in un­der­ground en­vi­ron­ments and mon­i­tor ev­ery­thing from air qual­ity to the move­ment of ve­hi­cles and per­son­nel.

Sim­i­lar ap­pli­ca­tions of re­mote tech­nolo­gies are also be­ing ap­plied to au­to­mate min­ing op­er­a­tions; this in­cludes driver­less dump trucks, min­ing equip­ment and trains.

Q. Are min­ing op­er­a­tions head­ing to­wards In­dus­try 4.0?

I sup­pose not many com­pa­nies would be at 4, but it’s where the in­dus­try is go­ing and needs to be.

Many would be at 3; they’ve got those sys­tems that talk within their fac­to­ries, they have com­put­erised high-tech equip­ment that make things and sys­tems mon­i­tor and record, but they don’t have cy­ber phys­i­cal sys­tems with sen­sors and re­mote mon­i­tor­ing and trans­mis­sion, and col­lec­tion of data.

It’s an on­go­ing jour­ney. If we’re go­ing to make high tech prod­ucts, man­u­fac­tur­ing sys­tems we will have to com­pete on a global base line, and I can guar­an­tee Europe and other ad­vanced economies in the world are all mov­ing to­wards these ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing plat­forms.

If you want to sur­vive in Aus­tralia you have to be aware of those global trends and adopt the same, if not bet­ter stan­dards, to give your­self a com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage.

Q. Is QLD poised to be­come the na­tional METS hub or are other ar­eas show­ing prom­ise, such as the WA Gold­fields, Spencer Gulf and Hunter Val­ley?

METS hubs tend to spawn in ar­eas sur­rounded by sig­nif­i­cant min­ing projects.

All of the ar­eas men­tioned above will no doubt go up and down with the tide ac­cord­ing to de­vel­op­ments in their re­gions.

In re­gards to QLD, when Adani and the GVK projects reach fi­nal in­vest­ment de­ci­sion stage and all ap­provals have been granted then I see no rea­son why the ex­ist­ing ca­pa­bil­ity of QLD’s ex­ist­ing METS hubs should not also in­crease pro­por­tion­ately.

Q. How im­por­tant is col­lab­o­ra­tion to the in­dus­try’s fu­ture?

Col­lab­o­ra­tion is es­sen­tial to the fu­ture of the METS in­dus­try. It is at the core of ev­ery­thing MESCA does. MESCA project brief­ings are busi­ness de­vel­op­ment events, they only oc­cur when con­tracts are on the ta­ble or are soon to be re­leased.

Mem­bers have two op­por­tu­ni­ties to win work at the events. The first is to hear the project pro­po­nent and get an up­date on up­com­ing work pack­ages; the se­cond is to at­tend busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties forged over the post brief­ing net­work­ing and drinks ses­sions. MESCA mem­bers have re­peat­edly told me that they have won sig­nif­i­cant work as a di­rect re­sult of at­tend­ing MESCA events.

Q. What ad­vice do you give to emerg­ing METS com­pa­nies look­ing to make their mark?

• Find ways to stay well in­formed on in­dus­try de­vel­op­ments and emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies.

• De­velop your busi­ness de­vel­op­ment teams. In­dus­try in­tel­li­gence is be­com­ing / has be­come a dig­i­tal com­mod­ity, the days of “Bob” hav­ing a few con­tacts he can call upon are rapidly dis­ap­pear­ing.

• Part­ner, net­work and col­lab­o­rate with oth­ers in your in­dus­try.

• In­no­vate or die.

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