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Shell and IBM collaborate to accelerate digitalisation in the mining industry

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Global Mining Review,

Shell and IBM have recently launched Oren, a global B2B Digital mining services marketplace platform, co-developed by the companies aimed at helping mining companies find solutions related to safety, sustainability, mine planning and operational efficiency. By hosting new technology and digital solutions in one place, Oren aims to accelerate the digitisation of the mining industry, speed up the transformation of mining workflows and build in more operational resiliency in a rapidly changing world.

As current world events disrupt regular business operations, mining companies are looking to become more agile and resilient by embedding more automated mine solutions such as self-driving haul trucks and remote operations centres in their operations. To do this, mining operations need to quickly become more digital and intelligent at every step, both within the mines and throughout the wider value chains.

Shell, a major supplier of lubricants to the mining industry, engaged with more than 350 mining businesses and identified that 80% of those surveyed are wrestling with similar challenges in their operations. These include: difficulty aggregating data to make actionable insights; lack of intelligent workflows due to siloed organisational working; improving sustainability and keeping employees safe while deploying autonomous technology.

"Mining customers can benefit from many of the digital solutions used in the energy industry, for example, those that help manage operations safely and efficiently in remote locations. We envision Oren being the one-stop digital destination for the mining sector to access the best digital solutions and technologies, not just from Shell and IBM, but also from leading and emerging companies. Being able to find and access a wide range of solutions digitally is even more important given the movement constraints faced as countries respond to Covid-19," said Carol Chen VP, Global Marketing Lubricants Shell.

"The next push in mining requires a new approach towards industry-wide technology platforms which requires new levels of openness, innovation and collaboration. Oren accelerates the adoption of digital services in the mining industry by facilitating technology transfer, innovation and integration from solution providers across the ecosystem. For miners, this experience can help efficiently locate solutions at all levels of the organisation. This can make their existing workflows more intelligent to enable their digital journeys and help them reach their long terms goals," said Matt Candy, Global Managing Partner IBM iX.

The Oren marketplace platform allows solution developers – both established enterprise companies as well as start-ups - to get their market innovations to mining clients quickly.

Mining companies may not always have the time and budgets to invest in developing their own new tools to meet these challenges. They are looking to deploy ready-made, proven solutions to improve operations by aggregating data from different sources to create a single view of their operations in order to abstract insights and really drive action and make more informed, data driven decisions.

Oren also aims to enable mining operations to develop a roadmap designed to deliver the interconnected mine of the future by creating connected solutions that integrate and leverage data, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, automation and analytics. This can give miners not only access to digital mining services but also bring solutions and services that can enable miners to imagine and build up intelligent workflows that integrate all services across the mining ecosystem.

The Oren team will bring expert support to mining companies to help build their specific digital journey roadmap while the B2B marketplace provides solutions to get things done, including:

Tailored search

This allows users to identify the most appropriate solutions by customising their search parameters in relation to their responsibilities, the business challenge they are tackling or the nature of the technical solution they are seeking.

Access to field-proven mining solutions

This includes:
  • MachineMax, a cloud-based digital service for off-highway vehicles and industrials fleet optimisation.
  • Shell Remote Sense, a smart lubricant condition monitoring service delivering insights for industrial companies to optimise equipment health, lower maintenance costs and increase operational efficiency.
  • IBM's Maintenance, Repair and Operations Inventory Optimisation Services which helps manage spare parts inventory optimally for both critical and non-critical spares.

Dedicated environmental management and compliance software

The software can provide detailed analysis and reporting on pollutant inventories, greenhouse gas emission, energy consumption, environmental impact assessment, mine rehabilitation and mine life cycle assessment. It is anticipated that one third of the solutions available on the marketplace will be related to sustainability with solutions on Oren from both large enterprise and start-ups such as Hydrox Holdings, which developed a technology to unlock inexpensive hydrogen production as a renewable energy source.

Early adopter access for pioneering technologies

The technologies will help transform mining operations. Oren will facilitate mining companies to try new solutions in their daily work and integrate them into their current systems. For example, on an operational level the trend in the mining industry is that more and more work is undertaken from control rooms. On Oren, to bring the full experience of a mine site visit to any home office, BGC Engineering will feature its Ada platform, which allows holographic visualisation of mine site through a realistic 3D interactive and immersive experience. With this solution subject matter experts and non-technical stakeholders can visit a digital version of their project site any time; past, present or future.

A searchable repository of best practice mining use cases

These can be used to show the solutions in action in other mine sites. As the platform increases in use, mining companies will be able to extract insights related to technology trends applied in the industry and understand what areas the sector is investing in. This will help them determine how their own digital transformation journey is progressing. For Service providers or sellers, they can gain insights that are useful for product improvement and that can drive innovation based on what resonates with the customer base and other users of the platform.

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