CBR spoke to Marc Ramsay about Modular Mining’s software and why it has spread around the globe.
CBR: Who is Modular Mining and what do you do?
Marc Ramsay: Modular Mining Systems is a global corporation that specialises in optimising the use of mining equipment by utilising our industry leading mine management solutions. Modular has been designing, building and supporting specialised software and hardware to meet specific mining conditions, as well as meeting our niche industries specific wants and needs, for over 27 years.
We are a worldwide team of mining, software, electrical and mechanical engineers that maximise the additional value offered by technology in solving mining problems and improving mining performance.
CBR: What role do SA and the SA office play in Modular’s global operations?
Marc Ramsay: Modular Mining Systems Africa is the third largest region in terms of sales turnover, but has the distinction of adding most new customers to the global customer base. The South African office is responsible for the EMEA region. The African continent and the mining customers residing here are amongst the most powerful and largest mining companies in the world today. Modular Africa is a wholly owned subsidiary of Modular holding company and performs full sales, support and service functions with locally staffed employees, trained to our highest international standards.
As the youngest region, (ie seven years) Africa has also been given the responsibility of initiating and developing the region that includes the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and former Soviet states. This is due to the track record that the African region has displayed in matching customer needs with mine management solutions, and our ability to deploy these systems in many varied conditions and cultures. It is planned that the CIS region will become fully independent in the next two to three years.
CBR: What differentiates Modular from its opposition?
Marc Ramsay: Modular’s product range is unsurpassed and is the result of customer centric systems design and development of 27 years. Modular has products developed and proven in the field for all elements of the mining value chain.
Modular places fully functional support and sales centres close to its customers. We are therefore able to exceed customer’s expectations in terms of being locally responsive and reacting to their specific needs. Each support centre is owned by the Modular group and therefore all customers are afforded direct interaction at the most senior strategic level, thus ensuring that we remain customer responsive.
Modular’s products are the only industry proven products that can validate publicly released claims of up to 32% increase in productivity through installation of our systems without any other major changes or additional mining equipment.
CBR: How important is current technology in mining?
Marc Ramsay: Current technology and innovation is essential to the competitive environment of modern mining companies. Most mineral resource outcrops have been identified and therefore offer a limited supply of raw materials. Whether striving for cost efficiencies or increasing production (particularly under the current commodity-demand conditions), every mineral producer is striving to out-perform its competitors.
It is important to note that realtime mine optimisation or mine management controls enormous amounts of capital equipment, safety requirements, mineral resources, etc. Therefore it is not the appropriate ‘testing ground’ for gadgets or ‘fly-by-night’ fads. Successful technologies that add value are the technologies that have already proven to be robust, reliable and applicable. Tolerance levels for failure are very low and can still have extremely dire consequences. In addition the environmental issues, such as end user training and on-going system support must be in place before the technology is implemented, realtime delays are not an option.
CBR: How do your clients measure the ROI of their modular investments?
Marc Ramsay: Fortunately, the mining engineering practice is a very mature discipline. Return on investment results are simple to calculate, but measures and methods will differ between operations. Typically, standard mining measurements are taken before installation and compared to the same measurements post installation. For Modular systems, this typically results in an average increase of 10% in productivity for medium sized mines. Payback is typically set as a benchmark of 12 to 24 months, however, Modular consistently achieves payback within six to eight months.
Qualitative improvements are typically viewed as ‘nice-to-haves’ in the clinical and operationally focused mining environment. However, the improvements do manifest themselves into many improved practices as the mining operation, and its staff, evolve. The evolution sees the transformation from a fairly rudimentary or manual mining process to a highly streamlined and ultra-efficient optimised realtime mine management philosophy.