Artificial intelligence, the core driver of InEight Schedule, helps schedulers drive plan realism and optimise outcomes. Australian Mining reports.
There are many ways of optimising a mining operation, with realistic and achievable scheduling standing out as having a particularly crucial impact on a mine site, equipment resources and infrastructure from start to finish.
InEight executive vice president, Asia Pacific, Rob Bryant says mining operations typically involve capable individuals with many years of experience, but one of the biggest challenges they face is capturing reliable information and using it to achieve better outcomes.
Exploration, for example, requires the wise coordination of a lot of resources, making the project schedule and its credibility even more important.
This is the type of information that mining companies can use throughout the entire life cycle of an operation.
The evaluation of cost and schedule risk during the exploration phase is critical in determining project feasibility.
That information is continuous in nature, and forms part of the company’s ever-expanding knowledge library through the life cycle of an asset.
“A mining operation is a very dynamic asset. There’s always going to be work being done, whether it’s expanding the mine site or maintaining the operations and infrastructure,” Bryant tells Australian Mining.
“You need to continue capturing data all the way through the operational phase to maximise the return and efficiency of the operation. Further down the track, this data will also assist in future projects.”
A planner can’t decipher an activity at each data point in isolation. That information needs to be gathered to establish the full context.
This allows a mining construction schedule, for instance, to accurately align with the delivery of material with the resources on-site.
“A good scheduling solution should ensure that you don’t have isolated activities, where you have resources on-site but not the materials, or vice versa,” Bryant says.
This is where InEight Schedule comes in. This software is able to quickly access historical data points from the solution’s knowledge library, then share the information across one entire platform so it can be applied to decision-making.
Schedule leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to offer true data-driven insights into an operation or asset’s past performance, allowing planners to learn from historical information and use it to influence today’s decision making, Bryant says.
Suggestions and scenarios generated by the tool are then vetted by team members, and their feedback scored accordingly, adding an element of human intelligence to bolster computer-generated knowledge.
Bryant refers to this combination of artificial and human intelligence as “augmented intelligence” and says it elevates InEight Schedule above run-of-the-mill planning programs.
“At the heart of today’s software innovation is the notion of giving context through this process of augmented intelligence, storing the generated information in the tool’s knowledge library and placing it in context for a particular project stage that is currently in schedule,” Bryant says.
“Typically, we see cost overruns and project blowouts due to overly ambitious expectations during the planning stage of the project. It is human nature for planners to be more optimistic than they should be. After all, they want a project to be a success.
“InEight Schedule represents a leveller in that respect by suggesting a logical timeframe based on knowledge acquired in past projects. It has the intelligence to produce a realistic alternative, to be supplemented by team expertise.”
This prevents companies from entering projects with unrealistic expectations of the time required to pull off an exercise with inadequate resources, according to Bryant.
The mining and resources industry is better disciplined than the construction sector in that respect, he adds.
“Mining companies understand it’s about finding the one deposit in five that’s going to be feasible and deliver long-term returns, so they understand there is an arduous process and great risk involved in entering the design stage,” Bryant says.
Scheduling is an exercise with consequences that span the entire asset life cycle, and InEight aims to provide mining operators with more insight through this advanced solution.
InEight Schedule enables different people to input their schedules at any time while the operation keeps moving.
Having a system that captures all that information and makes it part of the mine owner’s intellectual property is invaluable for use in benchmarking future projects and optimising project outcomes from start to finish.
To learn more about InEight’s planning, scheduling and risk capabilities, visit the website.
This article also appears in the February edition of Australian Mining.