Q&A: Rio Tinto’s Warrick Ranson, Head of Productivity Development, Technology and Innovation
Warrick Ranson, Head of Productivity Development, Technology and Innovation at Rio Tinto is the opening Keynote speaker at Austmine's stream at the IMARC 2015 conference in Melbourne on 10 - 12 November.
In advance of the event, Austmine caught up with Warrick to get his insights into some critical issues facing both miners and mining equipment, technology and service providers (METS) in the current market environment.
Why does Rio Tinto feel so passionately about industry collaboration between miners and mining equipment, technology and service providers?
At Rio Tinto, collaboration is fundamental in driving some of the technology initiatives that are moving our industry forward. Our innovation focus incorporates new ideas and ways to drive productivity through creating and adapting new and existing technologies. We cannot do this without our technology partners and service providers – we are a strong believer in the ‘not invented here’ approach.
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In March last year we opened our Excellence Centre in Brisbane. In conjunction with our process engineers, analytics teams and external partners we are now able to examine real-time plant data to provide expert solution to operations.
Another example of successful collaboration is with the University of Sydney where we focus on mine automation with one of the world’s largest privately funded external robotics initiatives. Through this collaboration we are able to capitalize on initiatives being applied in industries such as manufacturing, aerospace and logistics.
Where do you see the best opportunity for improved collaboration within the industry?
The foundation to Rio Tinto’s success as one of the biggest mining companies in the world is our people. Technology is nothing without the people who develop, test and operate it. We need to collectively think about our approach to identifying, harnessing, developing and retaining core skills required to efficiently and effectively run mining operations--both now and for future generations. Education is fundamental when it comes to developing expertise and we need to work collaboratively with our academic partners to ensure graduates are industry-ready, particularly as we continue to introduce new technologies.
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How can we as a sector better incorporate research and development institutions into the entire mining innovation value chain?
Rio Tinto has been a strong supporter of world class research institutions. However, the sector needs to remain agile to respond to the highs and lows of our industries cycles. Research and development facilities tend to be models of stability, entering into longer term partnerships. Shorter term partnerships and more flexible models would better assist the mining value chain.
Why are conferences such as IMARC 2015 imperative to furthering sector collaboration?
Conferences such as IMARC create an environment for bringing together prominent cross-sector stakeholders. These conferences give us the opportunity to share our story and ultimately encourage collaboration within the sector.
Warrick will be speaking in the Austmine conference stream at IMARC on "Driving Productivity through Strategic Partnerships". Also speaking in the Austmine stream are Newcrest, Gold Fields, PanAust, Glencore, Mandalay Resources, MMG, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Sandvik, Sedgman and more.
Previously posted on Austmine.com.au
Axora launches global challenge for digital technology
Axora is launching the world’s first international competition to discover new cost-saving digital technology for industrial companies, which can produce rapid benefits within a year.
The Metals & Mining and Oil & Gas sectors have recently experienced budget cuts of 20% on average, driven by a variety of factors including the global pandemic, slump in demand and price wars. The Axora Cost-Saving Technology Challenge aims to transform these industries by discovering innovative, digital solutions that reduce cost fast and pay for themselves, whilst achieving the same or improved productivity, health and safety and sustainability standards.
“While digital solutions can help to get work done quicker and more cost-effectively, they typically require a three-year ROI, and if there’s no flexibility in the budget, a full budget planning cycle is needed to get things moving”, said Dr. Nick Mayhew, Chief Commercial Officer, Axora.
“Yet, extra financial cost is often incurred in delaying digital projects, so customers have asked us to highlight solutions that can have an ‘in year payback’ whereby the cost spent on the solution and deployment will be more than recovered within the budget year - this accelerates the timeline and drives positive business impact, quickly.”
The Axora Cost-Saving Technology Challenge
Axora is keen to learn of any digital cost-saving innovation which: meets the 12-month payback timeframe; can be deployed in any part of the value chain including upstream, downstream or midstream oil and gas, metals processing or mining; and is ready for market. The Axora Cost-Saving Technology Challenge is open to entrepreneurs, start-ups, academics and sector leaders across the world. The competition will be judged by a panel of leading industry experts.
“We’re passionate about supporting our industries and customers through all forms of digital transformation and the cost-saving solutions we are searching for could also provide a lifeline to many mining and metals and oil and gas companies in the current economic climate,” added Dr. Mayhew.
Improving productivity, safety and sustainability
Up to ten finalists will be chosen to pitch their solutions at a digital pitch day later this year, after which Axora will validate the ROI models and vet the solutions. The winner will receive the ‘Axora Market Accelerator’ sales and marketing package worth £10,000. This includes a two-hour workshop, promotion through Axora’s thought leadership content and inclusion into its digital demand engines, providing the opportunity for the winning solution to benefit thousands of industrial companies. Entries are open until May 31. Full details of the competition including terms and conditions can be found here.
To learn more about the Axora B2B digital solutions marketplace read our feature in the latest issue of Mining Global magazine.