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Digging smarter with technology

As the world looks to technology to find solutions, the mining sector is keeping up the pace as well. In a conversation with Gustavo Vieira of Vale, Infosys’ Ashiss Kumar Dash delves deep into how the mining major looks at mining technology as well.

Highlights

  • “(It's in an interesting moment in) the mining industry now… where we want to use technology really to bring the value, and also reduce the risks of our operation.”- Gustavo Vieira.
  • “We are investing a lot not just to implement technology, but also to use innovation as one important lever of our future transformation.” - Gustavo Vieira.
  • “Using new technologies like artificial intelligence and blockchain (are) really some tipping points (where) we could see the value of those new technologies, and innovation on a day by day process.” - Gustavo Vieira.

Technology is at the center of the changing world.

As this understanding and acceptance has started picking up steam in recent years, even those professions that are manual in nature are making use of technology to drive better business results.

One such organization, Vale, S.A., which is one of the largest producers of iron ore in the world, is adapting to the times and adopting technology on the way.

In a conversation with Infosys’ Ashiss Kumar Dash, Gustavo Vieira, Chief Information Officer, Vale, shared his thoughts on how the mining industry is transforming, and technology is playing an increasingly important role in it.

“(It's in an interesting moment in) the mining industry now… where we want to use technology really to bring the value, and also reduce the risks of our operation,” says Vieira.

“Nowadays, we are using AI to identify which components that we needed to change, and instead have to change everything that was planned.” - Gustavo Vieira

He says that the use of technology extends to a range of areas, be it operations or social progress. “At the end, we want to achieve productivity levels in our industry, using technology in those specific areas.”

Innovation in the blood

At Vale, which operates across 30 countries, Vieira believes, the next level of efficiency will be done through innovation.

“We are investing a lot not just to implement technology, but also to use innovation as one important lever of our future transformation,” he says, adding that innovation should be an important part of everyone in the organization.

The company is looking at innovation in HR, procurement, financing, as well as operations. Dash notes that Vale is looking at the cultural change towards how people consider the value of innovation.

Vale, which is the largest mining company in Brazil, the discussion on innovation isn’t new. While it started its transformation program in 2017, the focus on innovation started even a couple of years before that.

Benefits from new technologies

There are, however, new areas of interest.

“Using new technologies like artificial intelligence and blockchain (are) really some tipping points (where) we could see the value of those new technologies, and innovation on a day by day process,” says Vieira.

“We wanted to use our IoT platform, and censors that we have in our plants, to capture the data and detect when some specific component will break, or start having problems.” - Gustavo Vieira

Discussions around making better decisions using the data, relying on AI to make decisions, automating processes and manual activities using technology have become more common.

“One real and concrete example that we have is looking for our trucks maintenance,” he says, which was earlier more like a car maintenance process.

“Nowadays, we are using AI to identify which components that we needed to change, and instead have to change everything that was planned.”

The gamechanger positively impacted the lifecycle of some of the components by 25% and also helped keep the productivity of their operations at levels where they could start implementing the solutions globally.

Dash adds that the use of AI to predict things helps set up a pattern and enhance operational efficiency, safety, and security as well.

“It is mandatory to have the technology to bring education, to bring innovation, and also to add value, not just for the company, but for the stakeholders.” - Gustavo Vieira

Vieira agrees, especially talking about anomaly detection.

“We wanted to use our IoT platform, and censors that we have in our plants, to capture the data and detect when some specific component will break, or start having problems,” he says.

He also believes that technologies such as digital inclusion are crucial in a world that is demanding more collaboration and development together.

“It is mandatory to have the technology to bring education, to bring innovation, and also to add value, not just for the company, but for the stakeholders,” he says.

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