Australia’s resources industry is booming and subsequently, investment in mining and associated infrastructure dwarfs other nationwide building projects, as surging profits from strong commodity prices make such projects more attractive to investors. While this is good news for Australia’s economy, the industry must question its capacity to keep meeting the growing demand. At the same time, mining, oil and gas companies struggle to address the mounting complexity that comes with the volume, variety and granularity of information they manage. Going forward, the key to success for natural resources organisations will be the application of smarter thinking about how to collect, analyse and use information.
Despite the recent industry success, Natural Resources organisations face a number of specific and significant industry challenges for future growth. For this reason, IBM has recently developed the Natural Resources Solution Centre (NRSC) in Perth to focus on the development of innovative solutions tailored specifically to the business challenges of Australian Mining, Petroleum, Liquid Natural Gas and other exploration organisations. The mining, petroleum and natural gas industries share many similar issues (and opportunities), the most prevalent of which include:
Shortages – a lack of skilled workers and supporting infrastructure means many mining, oil and gas companies struggle to keep up with the rate of projects.
Complexity – many Natural Resources organisations also find it difficult to address the growing complexity that comes with the volume, variety and granularity of information they have to manage.
Shorter Timelines - project timelines are becoming compressed beyond the ability of all but the most agile organisations to respond.
Business analytics and optimisation offers a solution to these challenges by helping companies collect, analyse and use information for competitive advantage. The application of relevant, highly contextualized information in this way has the potential to yield many organisational, operational and business process benefits for these organisations including:
- More effective maintenance expenditure through equipment lifecycle management
- Reduced production variability and improvements in process reliability
- More focused expenditure of production improvement capital
- Improvements to production modelling and forecasting
- Better data accountability and traceability
- Improved enterprise-wide collaboration
People at all levels of these organisations need better information; yet vast amounts of data are ignored, mismanaged or underused. Natural resources organisations produce vast streams of information: traditional transactional systems, human-authored qualitative data and the output of a plethora of instruments and sensors. Much of this data is unstructured and growing at an exponential rate, yet most of it is not used in analytics. This presents a significant opportunity for Natural Resources organisations to gain valuable insights into their organisations with the potential for significant gains in operational efficiency.