Heather Ednie & Peter Wan

Distinguished Lecturers 2013-14

In recognition of their commitment to develop and implement mining standards for advancement of the global mining industry.

Presentation Topic: Technology standards for operational excellence

As today’s mining industry is challenged to become increasingly efficient, productive, cost-effective, safe and responsible, there is a growing recognition for the role that industry standards can play in helping achieve these objectives. This presentation will outline the benefits and opportunities that industry standards and guidelines can bring to all stakeholders in the global mining industry. This will include examples of standards implementation from other industries, combined with case studies of challenges that have been resolved through the development and implementation of standards and guidelines in the mining industry.

We will explore the opportunities mining companies can realize through a collaborative, global approach to address common challenges, and through the creation of standards and guidelines. Also, we will discuss future opportunities for increasing effort to support operational excellence with global standards and guidelines, particularly as they apply to operational mining, systems integration and safety.

Q&A: Heather Ednie and Peter Wan explain role of global technology standards

By Dinah Zeldin

CIM: The two of you come from very different backgrounds – engineering and communications – but are presenting on the same topic. For each of you, why is the development and implementation of technology standards increasingly important for the industry?

Ednie: The need for industry to be more productive and efficient in a safe and sustainable way is increasing due to globalization. And from what we have been seeing, industry across the board – mining companies, suppliers and OEMs – are acting in a more collaborative way to achieve these strides forward. Standards and guidelines are a necessary component for that movement towards productivity and efficiency, particularly in the global reality. Our goal, as members of the Global Mining Standards and Guidelines Group, is to create a network so that different stakeholder groups can work together.

Wan: The use of technology systems onboard equipment is now the norm rather than the exception. But there are still blocks to accessing all of that data in the different protocols that are being used on onboard devices. Improving that is really where our focus is in the first phase of this initiative.

For example, when you look at a Caterpillar truck, it has an onboard system that tells you everything from engine health to fuel burn and everything in between. All of the other equipment has similar systems, but it does not all use the same standard for communicating the data. Being able to access the data from these systems is a really key piece in being able to put together continuous improvement projects.

Mine operators have a very good understanding of their own fleets. For instance, if an operator has fleets of Komatsu 930E trucks and P&H 4100 shovels at various mines, it can start benchmarking performance of the mines against each other. But it does not know how its mines are performing against industry. The opportunity to start doing some global benchmarking is huge.

CIM: What is the scope of your discussion of technology standards – are we talking about the importance for standards for equipment, technology, processes?

Ednie: It is a broader picture in the discussion about the role and impact of standards. We will be looking at case studies from other industries and at the business case for various stakeholders to get involved in creating standards for our industry. We will be narrowing down to the issue of standards for mobile mining equipment as an example and investigating how creating some standards around that will help the industry move forward. Currently, our focus is on the mobile equipment, but that is a first step.

CIM: What industries are you looking to in order to build the business case for developing global standards?

Wan: One that is very close to mining and has in fact played a role in mining is fixed plants. That industry has an advantage over the mobile equipment world because it was able to collect data before the advent of wireless. Standards have become very widely accepted in that industry.

Another one is oil and gas, where there was a push by industry to define a standard that would open remote communication with drills. They came up with a standard called WITSML. While it is technically slightly less successful than fixed plants’s standards and still evolving, there are some key lessons that came out of it like thinking about how future advances in technology could impact connectivity. It is very easy to settle on a technology standard, but it can be very quickly overtaken when the next big thing comes along. For example, it is important to develop efficient protocols so messages sent from equipment do not consume too much bandwidth.

Ednie: Another industry we are looking at is the military. They have had a number of successes. Often their advantage has been purchasing power, which can be a challenge for the mining industry if we are not united.

CIM: At what stage is the mining industry, in terms of uniting to identify and implement global standards?

Wan: The need has been understood by many, but broader uptake is required. It is a difficult issue to tackle because everybody that develops technology is already using a hardware platform and protocols to share that information. Implementation of a standard that does not fit with what they are using will require a huge amount of re-engineering, time, effort and resources. There is definitely resistance to adopting a standard because of that short-term pain. One of the things we have been trying to do is build awareness of what the end vision is and how it makes it worth going through some of this short-term pain.

The Global Mining Standards and Guidelines Group has formed a number of working groups to tackle various elements of this initiative. There are already huge sets of data available and we are working to collate them and make sense of what we are getting from different devices. One group is looking at how different stakeholders use their data and how this data can improve their efficiency. Another working group is evaluating all of the data available on onboard devices to determine if there are some guidelines we can easily apply in terms of how it is presented. There are several other working groups, each with a specific mandate. We are trying to break it all down into bite-sized pieces.

Ednie: It is also quite a culture change for the mining technology world to try to bring everybody together. Getting over some of the weariness of the different stakeholder groups has been one of our focuses of the past year. We are helping people realize it is not one stakeholder group trying to win the other over onto their side; it is a group project that benefits everybody.

CIM: How will the standards created by the Global Mining Standards and Guidelines Group be enforced?

Ednie: We will not be developing standards on our own. We will partner with a standards organization because developing and maintaining standards is a process in itself. Rather, we bring industry expertise to the table. However, we will create industry-driven guidelines and best practices, which will be available on our website.


Heather Ednie is the managing director of the Global Mining Standards and Guidelines Group (GMSG). She has over 16 years of experience in mining communications and association management. Ednie’s interest to help improve safety, efficiency and overall excellence across the mining industry led to her involvement with GMSG. As managing director, she works with diverse stakeholders to build collaborative projects for the advancement, implementation and development of standards and guidelines that will enable all companies to learn and benefit from shared experience.

Peter Wan is a mining technology professional, with over 15 years of experience working on fleet management systems and mining technology strategies with leading, global mining companies. Wan’s previous experience with mining technology vendors allows him to apply a “view from the other side of the fence” to his role as part of the mining technology team at Teck Resources. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Wan now resides in Rossland, B.C., where he and his family are wholeheartedly embracing the mountain lifestyle!

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