Simplifying the technology convergence for miners

Australian Mining Guest Writers
Simplifying the technology convergence for miners

For over a century, Australian Mining has reported on the issues and trends that matter most to Australia’s mining sector. And Chris Holmes, Brennan’s mining advocate and WA State Manager, recently sat down with the publication to discuss the rise of IT and OT convergence, and how a seasoned partner can extract smarter operational outcomes. Here’s the article, republished in full.

Brennan believes that in a data-driven era, the synergy between information technology and operational technology can underpin a miner’s success.

In recent years, enterprise-scale mining companies have invested significant capital in data and technological innovations to drive production efficiencies, safety, and improved decision-making at an operational and business level.

Solutions such as automation and artificial intelligence (AI) have reduced equipment and production downtime, while improving safety and environmental outcomes.

These benefits are poised to have a trickle-down effect for operators of all sizes. Due to the capitally intensive nature these investments require, offset against somewhat volatile commodity markets, some are understandably reluctant to invest in these technology types.

This is where Brennan can help.

With tried-and-true experience across the mining sector, over 25 years of deep IT experience, and trusted by more than 1400 companies, Brennan has grown to become Australia’s largest privately-owned and trusted systems integrator.

“We have an established presence across all the major cities in Australia, along with extensive support in India and Sri Lanka,” Brennan’s mining industry advocate and Western Australia state manager, Chris Holmes, told Australian Mining.

Through its team of certified experts, Brennan removes the complexity of technology, with a specific focus in the mining industry on operational technology (OT) and its convergence with IT.

Due to the shifting nature of mining, where technology synergies are growing in importance, Brennan is continuing to evolve the links between IT and OT.

“We are IT experts with deep understanding and knowledge of the IT elements that comprise OT environments,” Holmes said.

“This is of real importance because, historically speaking, IT and OT have been treated independently of each other.”

Given OT environments are key to production, their resilience and redundancy are of principle priority; however, as businesses mature their IT and OT environments, IT is helping augment and supplement operational outcomes.

“IT and OT are increasingly diffused with the convergence of data, especially at the edge, which is where Brennan can help,” Holmes said. “Leveraging hyper-converged, multi-cloud and public cloud platforms, we assist clients by unlocking the value within their data.”

Brennan is conscious that a client’s focus is on their core business of mining and mineral processing, and don’t often see value in self-managed IT investments from a scalability, breadth-of-competency, or retention perspective.

But by leveraging outsourced IT expertise, Brennan can help mining companies extract deeper operational efficiencies, lighten infrastructure management load, establish resilient public/private cloud environments, secure organisational intellectual property (IP), and forge productivity through connectivity, all while maintaining flexibility.

And miners don’t need to start from scratch. Brennan can quickly leverage reference architecture to support a new operation or application.

“The upside for miners is they get to reap the benefits of our approach and experience without going through the learning curve, as they often don’t have the research and development capital,” Holmes said.

“We look at ways to approach reference architecture so they can be orchestrated to suit individual requirements and objectives, without starting from scratch.”

“This ensures miners are getting maximum value from their existing investments in the delivery of new and ‘continuous improvement’ projects.”

Holmes said Brennan can manage a mining company’s environment across the entire IT and data landscape, but in ways that are relevant, secure and scalable.

“That’s how we’ve built upon our long-term relationships and continue to deliver tangible value for mining companies, no matter their size,” he said.

Brennan’s IT and OT capabilities have helped miners solve challenges such as risk mitigation, security enhancement, proactive maintenance, and automation-based solutions.

This had led to other benefits, such as customers freeing up their IT teams, reducing operational costs, future-proofing infrastructure, and strengthening their digital capabilities.

Alongside its IT and OT offerings, Brennan is guiding customers to strengthen their IT fundamentals and build strong foundations that can accommodate the growing adoption of AI.

“With the rise of independent, mining-specific AI engines, we’re finding that defining the use-cases where AI is most relevant to their business is a prerequisite,” Holmes said.

AI has become a buzzword. Some people are utilising AI for AI’s sake, and it’s not necessarily providing the value they want. We’re helping customers define what that outcome must look like and manage expectations around the investment timeframes to attain sought value.

“That’s where we’re able to add genuine value.”

This feature appeared in the March 2024 issue of Australian Mining.

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