Nepean Mining: Trusted Name in High Value
For the mining industry to overcome its current state of turmoil it’s going to require many things. It’s going to entail improvements in practices and operational efficiency, it’s going to require commodity prices to rise, and it’s going to take more companies like Nepean Mining.
As Australia’s largest privately owned engineering, mining services and industry manufacturing organization, Nepean has assembled an army of applications for the mining sector. The company’s mining division, Nepean Mining, has earned a solid reputation for its capability to supply fully integrated turn-key mining systems. Through its four specialist businesses, Nepean Mining is delivering high value, innovative and sustainable solutions to the world’s leading mining companies.
Nepean Mining offers an exquisite line of innovative and sustainable solutions for underground and surface mining equipment. The company has been recognized as one of Australia’s most successful suppliers of large scale, fully integrated, mining conveyor projects.
Since 1985, the company has supported Australian and South African based mines through its five core businesses: Conveyors, Longwall, Power and Gas. Along with being one of Australia’s largest supplier of integrated electro-mechanical bulk material handling solutions, Nepean provides custom engineered solutions for some of the largest miners in the world including Rio Tinto, Fortescue Metals Group and BHP Billiton.
One of the main contributors to Nepean’s success is innovation. The company has accumulated a workforce comprised of knowledgeable and experienced engineers with proficiency in designing, manufacturing, installing, and commissioning machinery. With complete in-house capabilities, there’s not much Nepean can’t do.
“The reason we’re excelling is because we have a strong engineering department which allows us the ability to do all the designs and modeling ourselves,” says Rolf van Rooyen, managing director of Nepean Mining.
World Class Facilities
In addition to a vast product range, Nepean is accessible almost anywhere in the world. With a total of 10 facilities worldwide, including Australia, South Africa, and China, Nepean Mining has captured roughly 35-40 percent of the mining equipment market in its core market of eastern Australia by incorporating facilities close to its clients.
In early 2013, Nepean completed a significant expansion of one of its conveyor facilities in Wollongong, Australia. The new factory, which includes manufacturing operations such as fabrication, machining, assembly and quality assurance testing, continues to serve the company’s rapid expansion in NSW underground coalmines.
The facility also serves to showcase Nepean’s dedication to safety. The company recently achieved a milestone by reaching 1,000,000 man hours without a Lost Time Injury (LTI) in its Conveyors business and 700,000 in its Power business.
“I believe the key to our success is everyone in our organization understanding that they have a role to play in sustaining a zero harm environment. These milestones are a significant achievement and this is something that many companies aim for, but few achieve,” says Van Rooyen.
Van Rooyen admits in the past the company had an old-school approach to safety but since has adapted to stricter rules.
“You can see the difference in our safety record over the last five to seven years. If you manage safety correctly, it will change the culture of your company and be a positive flow on effect on your employees and customers.”
The increase in safety has been advantageous in more ways than one, strengthening the moral and company culture in the process.
“It’s amazing the impact implementing stricter and more efficient safety initiatives has had on moral and motivation among our employees,” says Van Rooyen. “We’ve seen an improvement in productivity and the quality of products.”
Supplier of value
Overall, Nepean is more than just a manufacturer of mining equipment; they’re solution providers. The company has integrated a unique approach to adding value for customers.
“Our engineers are a big part of the sales process,” says Van Rooyen. “They go to the customer’s site, listen to their questions and solve their problems. They’re an extended part of the customer’s operation.”
According to Van Rooyen, because engineers work closely with the sales team, their expertise and experience designing and manufacturing the equipment enables customers to better understand how it works.
“We can sell solutions right on the spot because our team knows what our customer’s needs are. In addition, the fact we have an in-house electrical solution provider adds significant value for our customers. We provide a consolidated system solution and essentially derisk the job for them right on the spot. It’s a huge advantage for us.”
To continue being a trusted partner with high value solutions, Nepean is looking to open offices in strategic locations to make buying and selling equipment more flexible for customers.
“We’ve been importing from China for six years and we’ve learned our lessons,” says Van Rooyen. “We now have the processes in place and the feedback from customers to really set ourselves apart from our competitors.”
5 Mins With... Arun Narayanan, CDO, Anglo American
Arun Narayanan, Group Chief Data Officer, Anglo American, introduces VOXEL, the mining industry's first digital transformation platform for data-driven decisions...
What is VOXEL?
"VOXEL is the mining industry’s first digital transformation platform for data-driven decisions. It is the implementation of the Operating Model with machine learning and artificial intelligence. It encompasses the entire value chain for Anglo American and it helps us really move forward into the future. A platform built in the cloud... It is a very modern platform looking at all of the data that exists in our operations and trying to bring that all together is the first step."
How does VOXEL work?
"The data from digital twins, plus data coming in from our historians as well as geoscience data as well as external data is all pulled in into a modern, scalable infrastructure that we call the data lake. This data lake contains the data of our operations and presents the first opportunity for us to start to integrate things. As we begin to build these integrated models we are cleaning up the data. We are performing data management tasks at the lowest levels from data quality to the highest levels like data management. This cleaned-up information allows us to create data-rich applications... It gives us a great opportunity to leverage the advancements happening in the computer science industry to bring machine learning, artificial intelligence, burst capacity for our applications through cloud computing and much, much more."
What makes VOXEL different?
"The entire system, the entire value chain modelling, has been built specifically by us for mining as opposed to looking at other alternatives which are specifically targeted just to equipment or to other solutions. It looks at the full value chain, it takes in the deep expertise that sits in the T&S (Technical & Sustainability) organisation and the business units and it encapsulates that knowledge in the way these applications and these solutions are designed. It takes all of the digital twins that were built at individual steps of the value chain and pulls together almost a systematic digital twin of the full value chain - and that is really what sits at the heart of VOXEL."
How does VOXEL drive intellectual property and data ownership?
"We are taking a stand on data ownership. The data that we generate as part of our operations is an asset. It is our asset and we have to treat it as you would treat any other asset. We need to protect it, we need to make sure we are using it where it needs to be used and we need to make sure that we are getting the best return that we can get from that asset. And that is what the VOXELTM data programme sets out to do. It gives us a pathway to begin to claim ownership of that data and begin to use that data to drive the best decisions that we can – that we can get.
"The other aspect of this is intellectual property. Intellectual property in this system is owned almost entirely by Anglo American. We do work with industry-leading partners like Microsoft for the cloud solution and we buy other components where they are necessary but they are encapsulated away and the intelligence in the system is owned entirely by us. What that means for us from the scalability standpoint is that we can productise these solutions and deploy them at pace without incurring additional costs to all of our operations."
Arun Narayanan, Group Chief Data Officer, Anglo American