Future of Mining Maintenance and Reliability with Burcin Ozturk & Mohammad Assafi (BHP)

Episode 23 June 14, 2022 00:25:55
Future of Mining Maintenance and Reliability with Burcin Ozturk & Mohammad Assafi (BHP)
Lubrication Experts
Future of Mining Maintenance and Reliability with Burcin Ozturk & Mohammad Assafi (BHP)

Jun 14 2022 | 00:25:55

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Hosted By

Rafe Britton

Show Notes

The mining industry is very capital intensive, making maintenance and reliability a key aspect of both safety and financial success. In this interview, two reliability specialists from BHP share what's going on in the industry, and what the future might look like. Hint: there are a lot more computers and robots, but also a lot more people.

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Episode Transcript

BHP Interview === Rafe: Hey everyone. Welcome to lubrication experts. Obviously, for people familiar with the podcast, you know what the deal is, um, today, um, I'm joined by some of the members of one of BHPs, uh, reliability engineering teams. Um, so we've got, um, Burcin and, uh, Assafi with me today and we might have some people join, uh, mid podcast. We'll see how that goes. Um, uh, they're going to sort of talk a little bit about reliability, lubrication, asset management within the mining industry, um, obviously without getting into too much specific detail. Um, so just to jump really straight in, I think it would be helpful to sort of get a bit of context on the mining industry in general. Everyone has had let's say a pretty rough 24 months. I think it doesn't matter where in the world you are or what industry you've been in, uh, last 24 months has been pretty crazy, but in particular, you know, a lot of the noise or the news around the mining industry has been like this rollercoaster of commodity price fluctuations, shipping issues uh, geopolitical tensions both globally as well as in our own region. Right. Um, so just to get a feel for how the mining industry is doing, I think, starting to return to normal, or is it still, is it still crazy? Burcin: Hi, thank you so much for inviting us and, and this graded, uh, in, in engineering organizations and industries is evolving today. So that's great. Thank you for that. Uh, so yeah, I'm working for behavior, business, superintendent, reliable to programming operation services. Uh, yeah. You're right. Look in, in the mining industry. Currently a reasonably solid player in the world economy. If you, if you, if you like, when you see the trends in business moments are all about the pre pandemic levels still end of last year. And yet most of them are, um, rather. In accordance with the global data records, you might have seen on the news too. We'll look at the hiring rates in mining and new business startups and projects, stock prices are recovering, and it also shows that mining is one of the industries. The minor impacts for COVID-19 recovery in comparison to all other sectors. Um, To be honest. So that's, what's happening in mining. And this has been a steep learning curve for all of us to understand the expectations from governments, business individuals. Um, but my view mining industry has shown the adaptability and resilience and compassion through its response to the pandemic, uh, already and reorganizing the volumes. It must come from the diversity of the commodities. Uh, that's the benefit that you have the options available and it has to be con it has to continue, regardless of any other industries, the starting point, one of the first engineering in history and the stock prices, even the increased, um, approximately 32% increase in all sectors in average and 17.4%. Uh, higher hiring levels in recruitment as well. So I must say, um, we've, uh, in the strong space compared to any other industries and then it's, it's getting better. And I'm, I just think it's because of the, the level of the, uh, capital world, uh, and why it has to be done that way. Uh, that risk management was already in place because of safety reasons and other things, um, more resilient and it's going in the positive direction now. Rafe: Yeah, that's true. That's really interesting. And it's, uh, you know, one of the pleasures of my job, I guess, is I get to talk to people across so many different industries. Um, I guess in, in Australia in particular, uh, mining is. Uh, it's kind of like top of the tree when it comes to, uh, you know, its capacity for investment, but even like you were talking a little bit about, um, acquisition of talent to, you know, when you said hiring is up by 17%, um, you know, mining has always been like a very big draw, um, for engineers, trade people, all that kind of stuff. Um, and. It's often interesting to see the trickle down effect of that too. Right. Because those people come from somewhere and often it's often it's other industries. Um, so, so really, really interesting to see the kind of like the recovery and, and, uh, even the way that, that the mining industry was able to. Ah, continue on, you know, through, through the pandemic, despite, uh, well, certainly in Australia, not only be turning off the tap of, of foreign arrivals, but also, uh, domestic travel was, was quite, uh, restricted as well. So, so thanks for that kind of high level overview. Um, maybe the, uh, where I'd like to get to here is my. Um, and, and especially the lodge and mine is lots of yourselves and, you know, Rio Tintos and Glencore's and things like that. It's very, um, very capital intensive and, uh, you know, a lot of the big equipment, I guess, uh, you know, in a crude way is very expensive. Um, and therefore, you know, it seems like you guys place a very high premium on being able to maintain those assets, uh, maybe more so than we see in other industries. So. With that view. Um, where do you, where, where is a lot of the focus at the moment? Is it on getting the fundamentals right? Or is it on, you know, digitizing assets, you know, w where are you guys kind of spending or where do you see people spending a lot of their time? Assafi: I agree with personal, the first one, the mining wasn't really much impact COVID and we have really quick recovery because of the assets, especially companies with the diverse communities, they have a really weak character recovery, and we are thinking in better place than we were. And with the new normal, um, it's going good. It's going good. Good. So far, which is good. But in regards to the second question, um, where our focus is. Um, in the past few years, I think we had a big shift from, you know, just, um, fixing forever to fix whatever. And basically we're have going through this shift through the use of big data and especially in maintenance and maintenance. Um, there's a big focus now on the past few years, um, making decisions going through. Go ahead. Did everything we do is basically, and there's a big motivation. There's a big push to be databased, uh, to be data supported. Um, this gives us that, uh, That that privilege to be able to use that, um, that assets that we have and you, the truth is capital intensive. Um, all the everything we have on my side is super expensive as a lot. So, so using the data and the good, um, I believe reliability engineering, good teams. We have, we work together and to be able to make the most. So the more available we can make the equipment, the more we can use them, they may have the more we can make the most out of them. So I think in the past years, yeah, as I said, that shift that the focus is really on using data to be able to make the most out of these assets, to be able to use them as much as we can. Burcin: I agree. I agree. You're right. So big data for sure is, is key for us and because we are. Immature in a way, in terms of technology applications, considering manufacturing and all other industries, they are in the short term phase. And we are in the longterm business. We are a little bit slower compared to others. I think we are getting there now. And we do see the benefit already. The other things that I must say that definitely will be in artificial intelligence, automation. Robotics digitalization, electrification, and more into to understand the machine learning activities to predict the future, like using the sensors like a Saudi was saying, understand the real time concerns and respond to situations before it happens. Um, but traditionally we used to understand the root cause for the things already happen and, and the engineering wasn't really. Um, before, so nowadays you don't have any other choice. So engineering will deliver the outcomes for us because it's all knowledge, the ruin and reliability will sort of manage the initial aspects of it. So we will be able to create that holistic view, to see where the gifts, which tools and system will help us to maintain that. Um, granted. Contextual way of explaining the issue to the, um, why the businesses. So it's, uh, it's exciting times. I'm very happy to see the change. Rafe: Yeah. There's a couple of things I wouldn't want picking up on there. And the first being. You know, relating it back to what we talked about with talent acquisition. Right? So, so big data kind of requires maybe a little bit of a different skill than them traditionally, what we've we've had in the past. So, um, how, uh, how do you see the industry kind of tackling that, ease it, that we're bringing on. Uh, talent from, let's say, adjacent industries that have begun to experience, or is it more of a matter of taking your current, you know, existing crop of engineers who understand the unit machinery and reliability environment and giving them data skills? Burcin: It's a bit of both because the current population too, and technical knowledge and how many people we have will not be enough. That's why you see most of the companies already highlighting the benefits of inclusion and diversity. So it's not so much to be quite honest as a woman, it's not so much because they like women and they did have the pity to support them moving forward. It was more like we have to do that. Uh, for business profit wise workforce has to be there not only the physical asset management or the technical management anymore. So we need those people and sometimes people do have misunderstand. Due to misunderstand why? Uh, we have automation in place, which means we are going to need less people know we will need more people with different skillsets. So then the mechanical engineering reliability engineering role will be called maybe application engineering. And it will be combined with data scientists and data analysts or help, help, um, specialists. Um, but you are right. So there will be new roles, new skillset, and we need to get ready. So that's. It's certainly something that we need to take into account and, and it will start with inclusion and diversity. Uh, I think to, to be able to manage that demand. Rafe: Yeah, that's a, that's a really interesting perspective on, um, so on a previous episode of this podcast, we actually talked to a, um, HR specialist out of the UK. Um, it was a company called ABN resources and he, he spoke a little bit to, uh, the business benefits of, diversity and sort of. Um, drivers within the industry and just saying the reality is that we need more people with more diverse skillsets. Um, and so that, that's, that's really interesting to, to hear that that message resonates in the industry as well. Um, maybe just to pivot a little bit and talk a bit more in specifics about lubricants and, and lubrication, um, just to tie it to that sort of big data aspect, traditional condition monitoring of, uh, lubricants has been, you know, you take oil analysis, um, you, you get the reports back, you bring the reports and then you take action on that basis. Um, versus, um, maybe I think some of the approaches that I'm starting to see a little bit more of is to incorporate. All of those results into, let's say either a data lake or a warehouse household, you know, whatever your, your chosen, uh, structure is. Um, and, and try to incorporate that into a, sort of a wider context where it can then, let's say spit out insights and you can use those to inform, uh, maintenance and reliability. Is that kind of the step that the industry is at now. Um, and, and what kind of insights do do you feel were being sort of generated from that? Assafi: Um, I think in, um, in, in mining, so oil analysis, also one source of that we have data. And, um, so we have a lot of, a lot of sources of that. I think in especially mining industry, there are lots of, uh, as Bertrand mentioned, there's a big investment on like all the sensors, all the things that we can get that approved. But to me, the main thing is not just getting the data is luck. You can have a mountain of data, but if you can't really analyze it, if you can't really look into it, what's the point of having all that data. And as you mentioned, like, you know, sometimes, um, people just looking to, oh, is it red? So we need to do something, but they're not actually reading that data. Um, in, in, in mining industry, I've been here for like four years and, um, I'm seeing that we are actually starting to. Make the most out of these lubricants, the most out of these oil analysis, the more Latino understanding what the additives are, what the, what role they play. Um, when, when there's a change in Latino additives, when there's a change in the care characteristics of the oil, what does this mean? Like, you know, so, okay. And shipped out. So I think to me, um, lubricants or organogenesis is one of the main things engineers can use to ship the equipment, to being more proactive, rather than waiting for something to fail. And then we would replace it. So basically from oil analysis or from the lubricants, the type of lubricants we use and the way we analyze it, we can really. Most, if we make most out of it, if we, if we are able to get the most out of that lubricants, we will be able to move the machines to port practice so we can fix the fix something before they fail so we can make the most out of it. Yeah. And I think there's a, there's a big, big focus on special organizers, especially big companies. There are new roles now being advertised. Then their job is just to read over. And yeah, so just few days back, I was looking at one of the roles then. So the role is only analysis, lubricant analysis, lubricant specialist. So they just do the analysis for across multiple sites in one company. So it is good to see that shift, to see that shift actually we're using the data and not just having it all this time, we were having it, but now we actually making the most out of it. Yeah. Rafe: That that's, uh, that's really encouraging to hear. And, and maybe just asking you. Maybe a little bit of a personal opinion, I guess. Um, how do you guys feel about the level of knowledge that's available and maybe some context for this question, right? Is that the, the lubricants industry itself, and this is something we've talked about on this podcast has suffered. Uh, a pretty big brain drain over the last five to 10 years. Um, a lot of the majors are for example, dismantling technical teams, getting rid of their engineering services, divisions, um, and there's really, and a lot of people, uh, we had, let's say a demographic that was heavily weighted towards engineers that were close to retirement age and COVID was in, in many cases, the thing that pushed a lot of those people in re into retirement, either by choice. Um, so within the lubricants industry, we are struggling to find people that understand lubricants. Um, so, uh, it, then I'll kind of expectation was that industry being one step, even further removed from that industry would have great difficulty in finding people that understand. You know, the finer details of lubricant testing and chemistry and things like that, um, in, in your experience. So, you know, generally across the industry. Yeah. W w what's your experience of that knowledge or. Yeah, I'll Assafi: just say small short ass and emotion can build up on that time. I think you have the skill shortages, not just across all land gas industry, but across all industries. We have this, we have this shortage and it's globally. Like, you know, I have my family in all over the world. They work and they all are suffering from the same thing. And, um, I think that the plan or the thing can. That big companies need to do is COVID was a good chance to, to show the shorter companies that flexible work and working online is fine. And it can, it can happen. It's this is fine. And once, once the company is building. They can use Latino employees from all over the world. So if you want an engineer that knows lubricants, they don't have to be in the country. They can be anywhere in the world. You can use them either. They can work remotely online. You can just use their knowledge because, and this COVID was really good with the. With period to show the companies that it is possible. And then we need to step in a quicker towards that. And this skill shortage, I think will make it, it will make us even move quicker towards, towards that, um, that, you know, remote remote employees or, you know, outsourcing it to different companies. Burcin: Yeah, that's right. Look, I agree. A hundred percent. Definitely. There is a gap in the skills and training and it is because I didn't think we were prioritizing as such, uh, the impact on lubricants when I did, based on my experience. There's no. Nothing specific. Yeah. I think it's more than 42% of the time. You will decrease the maintenance cost. If you keep an eye on your liberal cans, um, even in mining industry in mobile Cuban space, and this is based on the number of issues and chronic events, we are looking and trying to deep dive into the grease and lubricants the quality level. Uh, and, and in terms of safety as well, like many of the things. Uh, associated with mining stem. Um, Interactions between people and machinery, choosing a lubricant that reduces maintenance requirements, um, and breakdowns will mean that employers spend less time in potentially, um, dangerous situations like risky situations at the plant or workshop, uh, lubricant with longer drain. Lubrication intervals can also help to reduce the risk to stuff. Um, by lowering the number of times, they need to carry out those maintenance tasks. So regardless of, uh, today's condition, as I said, this is a must now, uh, not only in mining and. So we definitely get ready for the impact because it's going to be a concern considering all the robotics and autonomy, artificial intelligence database, decision-making, uh, we have to develop ourselves in this space and, and, and make sure people dedicated to this roles, understand this requirements and lubricants quality and importance, um, in, in Greece, of course. Uh, and it really wants to do. So the conversations, but I'm not sure we are there yet. So these conversations will help us to educate and trigger the businesses more, uh, and people will be more interested in, uh, and then I think we will then get the buy-in from the leadership teams to, to keep an eye on it and support. Rafe: Yeah, that's, that's fascinating. And, and just as we, as we start to close out here, I always like to sort of finish off with, uh, a bit of a look into the, like the crystal ball look into the future. Um, this is obviously where we get into wild speculation. You know, within the mining industry, um, specifically, if you could kind of look 10 years into the future, um, where do you see the future of, uh, let's say like reliability and asset management, lubrication condition monitoring, you know, we sort of. At the moment, we're going through a bit of a, uh, a step change when it comes to, uh, data, um, collection of data, using it to inform insights. What do you see as being sort of maybe the, like the next step change that you would like to see, uh, you know, 10 years into the future? Assafi: Um, yeah, we, we have discussion with Wharton. Um, yeah, sometimes about that. Um, she wouldn't be better person last bruh. Actually, what I will give you a small, like what I think would be like, um, to me, I think, you know, when I close my eyes, think about 10 years into. I see, like, am I inside? Um, it said, no humans zone, so humans wouldn't be working anymore in the pits or in a mice. It will be very minor. TPO might be working there to just, you know, just adjust something. In 10 years, probably 20 years. We wouldn't even have that smaller number of people in there. And I think, um, you know, machines with the penalty technology we have with all the communication, the communication we have, machines will be able to actually speak to with one another. So, you know, production wise, we have, we are seeing a lot of autonomous trucks. And so, um, in one, two years from now, Um, we have the technology, but I hadn't seen it yet. Um, our leaders will probably be autonomous too. And then all our, our machinery will be autonomous. So this is production wise. And when we come to maintenance wise, um, our machines are getting really smart. So from, from the data we are getting from machines, they can actually, um, get a lot out of them to see what's what's wrong. And if we move this pace and I'm sure there are lots of technologies, which we are not aware of. And, um, if we move in this pace, even maintenance, wouldn't be any issue, finding the defects, um, you know, fixing the defect, wouldn't be an issue. So we'll then meet humans, um, to be there. And this is great. I think, well, this will help us a lot. Like once we get, we can get all this, right. I think at 10 years, um, it will be super safe place. So we wouldn't, everyone will be like, you know, uh, You know, and they can work remotely from different places. They can work from Brisbane while controlling all the equipment there. Um, I don't have to be onsite. I can just from my computer and look at the data, send it to blockchain works in Kansas. So I think that future is really just, you know, no humans on and everything will be automated. And from the data we remotely will be controlling everything on my side. Burcin: Yeah, I definitely agree. Uh, so yeah, we do always chat about this. What's going to happen in the future. I we're going to run into the metaverse environment and we'll get the mind scientist issues in advance like a day before, and then see if it's gonna work or not something like. So, yeah, look, I agree. So human element will play a different role in the picture. It's not necessarily, we will not have people working on it. We will have more people working on it, but in different environment and different skillset. So that's for sure. And, and considering the, um, global warming, you know, I think electrification and, and hydrogen will be key for us to, um, to watch and observe it's already here. Uh, but these are the things and blockchain, for example, will be continue to evolve, uh, in mining. Uh, and it will impact a lot more. And especially in terms of, uh, I do feel like the 3d printing coming from manufacturing will also will be key for maybe. For the parts to be printed moving forward. I'm not sure I might be something that might happen. Um, and the other thing, uh, as I said, when I was trying say metal was, I'm not, I wasn't joking. So why can't we scan the machine? When I was lucky enough to attend some of the medical big data conferences, uh, two, three years ago, the doctors, the surgeons can attend the surgery, uh, for. The other side of the world, and then they can and do have good progress with troubles. And it is when you think about the mining, it is a lot more, um, flexible. And it's not like that precise, which means we should be able to do it. And, and, and, and the asteroid mining and space mining, those are all the things that already has to be precise as medical industry. I think we should be able to. And articulate them into mining. So you can see the benefit and in a shorter term, uh, and it is already happening, which is, as I said, it's exciting time for people, uh, interested in the technical knowledge technology applications is all we are in the, making the history together, I think. And which is exciting for all of us. Rafe: Yeah. That's, that's, uh, that's some really fascinating insights. And I think what was kind of most interesting is all the stuff that you see. Really in, in many respects addresses a lot of the problems that we have now, too. Right? Like, you know, going to the, to the metaverse and being able to remotely control stuff is not, we're not just doing it for fun, but like you said, that there's a, there's a safety imperative behind it. Right. And there's a predictive capability imperative behind it. And even when you talk about 3d. I mean, that would solve a lot of our supply chain issues that we've got at the moment, too. Right. So, um, you know, I know that that everyone is really struggling for parts at the moment. So, um, look, uh, I know you guys are super busy, um, for, for our listeners. Uh, this team, uh, is actually their day off today. So I really, really appreciate you guys coming to, to, to speak to me today. I'm sure the audience will be very appreciative of it. Um, thank you so much for your insight and, uh, we'll talk soon. Burcin: Thank you so much, ladies. I appreciate it. It was really nice to see you again. Assafi: Yeah. Thank you. Rafe: Thanks for having us.

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