The Value Mine crossborder event was organized 16th June 2022 as a hybrid side event of Euromine Expo in Skellefteå, Sweden. The event attracted participants from industry, SMEs, and other actors to hear and discuss the mining industry´s digital future. This post focuses on mining industry talk presented by Katarina Öqvist from Epiroc AB. Previous posts were Sitra, Bosch Rexroth and Boliden, and the last industry talk post will focus on the industry talks of Hannukainen Mining. After these we will publish SME talks. So there’s more to come!
Epiroc, Katarina Öqvist, Global R&D Technology and Innovation Manager
In her presentation, Katarina talked about the challenges and the opportunities of the mining industry in the future.
Epiroc is a provider of mining equipment for the mining industry. They develop and provide innovative and safe equipment, such as drill rigs, rock excavation and construction equipment and tools for surface and underground applications. Epiroc also offers service and other aftermarket support as well as solutions for automation, digitalization and electrification. Epiroc is based in Stockholm, Sweden, had revenues of SEK 40 billion in 2021, and has more than 15 500 employees supporting and collaborating with customers in more than 150 countries.
Global trends influence mining industry
The business environment is changing and becoming more dynamic every day with continuously increasing demand for minerals. At the same time also uncertainties and risks are increasing due to climate change, misinformation, geopolitical changes, and IT vulnerability. All these may impact the personnel, customers, suppliers and operations.
-We are following the global trends closely to identify trends influencing the mining industry, tells Katarina.
Mining industry is going
- from analog to digital
- from fuel efficient to emissions free
- from fixed plan to flexible planning
- from surface to underground operations
- from physical safety to safety and wellness
- from single product sale to comprehensive solutions
- from ownership to collaborative partnerships
- from gender diversity to inclusion and diversity
- from human controlled to autonomous
Epiroc today, tomorrow and in the future
- We are moving to automation, electrification and digitalization at the same time and the demand is higher than ever, says Katarina. -Sustainability is integrated in everything we do, she adds.
Sustainability today includes selective mining electrified but soon even large scale mining will be electrified and in the future they will also be emission free.
Digitalization today includes connected machines but soon there will be fleet management and maintenance and consumables planning and in the future even in real-time.
Automation today means autonomous production but soon it will mean autonomous fleet and in the future autonomous mining.
Rock excavation today means high performance rock reinforcement but soon it will mean mechanical rock excavation and high capacity haulage systems. In the future it will mean continuous hard rock operation.
Then Katarina talked about how they implement innovation. What is actually the driver and is the driver mature enough to go there? She explains that sometimes you have the solutions but the time is not yet there and you have to wait for five years before the market is ready and demand is there.
-Batteries were one of these things. Now the demand is bigger than we can deliver at the moment, Katarina says.
Epiroc’s process-driven approach to sustainability aims to be smart, safe and seamless.
- This puts the demand we need to have open systems and standards, work even closer to customer and partner collaboration and implement more product innovation and customization, clarifies Katarina.
How does Epiroc drive innovation?
Katarina reveals Epiroc’s underground division has an innovation funnel that has some money to quickly prove and test small things to make it possible for them to evolve into projects. They also have technology innovation labs and external alliance projects, where everything is based on accelerating innovation and technology in collaboration in strategic partnerships. The value of accelerating innovation in collaboration is to stay technology focused, risk mitigation and shortening time to market.
Merging and acquisitions are also an option to buy an innovation. A great example of this is Mobilaris, which was a very close partner of Epiroc for years and in 2021 Epiroc acquired 100% of Mobilaris MCE AB.
Katarina hopes companies use European funding platforms.
-I took Europen funding platforms for granted in the beginning and when we started to go global, I realised this stuff doens’t exist everywhere. It can be a perfect fit for you at the funding of the project.
Human resources - challenge or opportunity?
One of the biggest challenges Epiroc is facing is the scarcity of human resources. There are too few people currently working in the mining industry in Sweden and too few currently in education. Another challenge is the new way of doing things which requires new skills.
-All the challenges can be seen as opportunities, Katarina comforts.
It gives an opportunity to attract new professions and increase diversity and contribute to solving the future. For example by the year 2030 Epiroc’s goal is to double the number of women in operational roles. Epiroc’s vision is to have people with a variety of experiences and personalities from different cultures, nationalities and ethnic origins.
-I’m a living example of this, points out Katarina. -I’m no machine engineer, I’m from the med-tech business! When I was hired, my manager said he was interested in my different experience.
Then Katarina highlights why diverse teams are important.
- Diversity is important if you want to accelerate new kinds of thinking and innovation.
The benefits of diverse teams are better decision making through broad perspectives, increasing innovation and creativity and also increasing attractiveness to stakeholders.
All of us (in the mining industry) have the responsibility to try to attract more people coming into the business. Tell them how cool we are!
Main contact and inquiries:
Liisa Koivisto, DigiProcess project, Kemin Digipolis Oy, +358 40 1980 567, firstname.lastname@example.org