Centralising all your data on one platform – such as Leapfrog Central – will dramatically improve your review process. But it also has a far-reaching and beneficial impact on your company culture, argues Seequent Senior Technical Leader Julia Oliveira.
It wasn’t so very long ago that if we needed to review models in the mining industry we would have to send pen drives from the mine to the head office – by plane. Imagine that! If you have to send data by plane, you have a problem.
Even putting data on a server and then downloading it somehow seems too complicated in 2018 for something that should be simple and fluid. It’s also open to error. Centralising all your data on one platform gives you security, reliable version control, and makes sure everyone is working from the same model and can track its history.
But what’s meaningful about centralisation for me – particularly about using Leapfrog Central – is that it’s not just about process. It can also be about inspiration, recognition and better work. Because what’s surprising is that when you introduce new technology you can also introduce a new culture; a better, modern and more effective culture that can inspire your geologists to do more.
To get there you have to realise that talking to users and talking to managers about centralisation are two very different conversations.
Winning over geologists to a centralised way of working
For managers the advantages are obvious. Greater efficiency, more reliability, easier for them to review the work done, and more work done as a result of the time savings that come from centralising all the data.
But for users it’s: “Oh my gosh. This means someone is going to be checking my work all the time, and they are going to say everything is wrong.”
It shouldn’t be like that. The mindset you need is: “oh, that’s amazing. That means someone can check my work early, not right at the end. Now I can fix it faster, have more time to get it right, and have a better chance to show the great work I’m doing.” It also means that geologists have more time to do their job rather than spending that time looking into folder, compressing and decompressing models, and so on.
But new technology can be scary for some people. You need to be a kind of psychologist to help them adapt and accept that things are changing, because it’s human nature to resist change.
Why your people will improve their models
When I help to introduce Leapfrog Central to a mining company, I spend a lot of my time just talking to every user and getting them to understand that it’s not hard. It’s intuitive, it’s going to be easy, it’s going to save them time.
For some the transparency that working on a single platform brings will always make them feel vulnerable. Now they have dates when they have to show their work and put it on the platform. They can’t get away with saying ‘yes, I’ve done that’ when they haven’t. It becomes really obvious when someone isn’t doing their job or has left it too late to and is doing everything at the last minute.
But for the people who are doing good work, and doing it on time, the results are amazing. They receive the recognition, congratulations and praise they deserve because the organisation can see they have delivered. That’s the lift in inspiration that centralisation can deliver for your lead modellers (and perhaps the reminder for the other modellers that they need to improve their game).
Helping the review process out of a hole
Having said that, it can’t be forgotten that many mining companies are faced with major issues of process that require centralisation to fix, where the cultural side is less of a concern.
I work with clients where their mines may be scattered around the country, often several hours flight away. People across the organisation are using different databases, none of which match. In some instances, the companies might be state owned, so they need to review their data constantly and show their numbers, with dates for that. All this can create serious problems in the reviewing process. For such companies there is clearly a need for a reliable tracking system, so everything is centralised on one platform. A solution where they can see that it’s the same database in the first review as was used by the modellers to do the model. A single source of truth for all the data.
The signs that mining is changing
Mining can be an old-fashioned industry. It’s not one that accepts new technology easily. There will be people who’ve been using a particular workflow for 20 years and don’t want to change. In fact, I’ve come across engineers still using Macros to do resource information, even though they didn’t know for sure what those Macros did, or if they were right! But they’ve been using them for ten years and they seem to work, so they carried on.
But what’s interesting is that I’m really starting to see changes now, and it’s not just Millennials arriving as new blood with a positive impact. You can go to companies and see it’s the guys over 50 or over 60 who are the ones asking for Leapfrog Central and looking to adapt.
I can see that there are going to be a lot of changes in the mining industry in the new few years, and I love Central because I do believe it’s going to enable a great many of those important transformations.