“Over the past few years there’s been a lot of hype and rhetoric around digital technologies, but in the past few months there’s been a shift in the industry,” says Bradley Andrews, President of Worley’s digital arm, Advisian.

“We’re starting to move from strategies and visions to tactical plans and targets.

“Technologies that we’ve been testing for a while now are starting to return data, and we’re starting to see how they can take us forward as an industry.”

This article first appeared in Mining Elites in Africa 2020

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As an early adopter of digital technology in the energy, chemicals and resources sectors, global project and asset services provider Worley has been constantly trying out new technology as it focuses on developing the best value-add digital strategies which in turn helps customers make more informed decisions.  

Robert Hull, Vice President, Mining, Minerals & Metals (MM&M) Africa at Worley, says that the company is not ‘on-boarding’ digital technology now because it is the latest buzzword.

Read: Worley: Leading digital transformation in mining

“Innovation is in our DNA as an organisation. Worley has always strived to embed innovation into every aspect of the business, and keep up with new technology.

The South African operations in particular have been active in digital technology for almost a decade, and is at the forefront of introducing digital transformation to the mining world.

In fact, Worley is one of the only professional service providers in the industry to offer fully integrated Building Information Modelling (BIM) compliant designs,” says Hull.

The digital twin

Worley has for some time been applying BIM principles and systems in the mining and minerals processing sectors and its customers are starting to see the value in how a simulated operational facility model, or a ‘digital twin’, could improve productivity and reduce much of the risk associated with construction and commissioning.

While there are many third party providers offering 3D modelling services to the mining sector, Worley is one of the few companies with in-house digital capabilities, and the know-how and technology to take BIM from 3D modelling right through to 7D, creating an intelligent and integrated project scope that runs from the design phase right through to operation and decommissioning.

Read: Matasis concludes BEE equity transaction with Worley RSA

“Worley is leading the way in terms of developing BIM capabilities for mining in South Africa, and it’s a necessary step for any business wanting to prosper in the new digital age,” affirms Denver Dreyer, Senior Vice President Mining, MM&M Europe, Middle East and Africa at Worley.

“However, there are many pitfalls in digital transformation. We have traversed this path for some time so we understand the digital challenges. Worley is the closest you’re going to find to help you navigate through these challenges,” says Dreyer.

He also notes that in order to deliver an intelligent and integrated project scope, it is vital to partner with a service provider that has years of industry experience as well as the technical expertise.

The added benefits of technology

“Our digital offering goes beyond engineering and design, to operations, safety and efficiencies. The digital technology that we are bringing to the table will help our customers reduce costs and operation risk, improve productivity, reduce risk to the asset and the environment, and reduce risk to human life.”

He adds that globally the organisation is driving digital transformation to offer customers cutting-edge digital capabilities, through collaboration between locations – especially South Africa, Kolkata and Perth – to share digital knowledge.

A new division is focusing purely on digital technologies, and the organisation is also investing in independent software companies that are pioneering digital tools that can be applied to provide valuable data.

For example, Worley is collaborating with Arundo Analytics, which has developed software that enables advanced analytics to provide data-driven insights for industrial operations, allowing Worley to bring best-in-class digital capabilities to its customers.

Another example is the Worley-developed SaltGrid, a cloud-based platform that applies artificial intelligence to customers’ health, safety and environmental (HSE) data to predict the number and types of incidents likely to occur.

Using these digital tools, Worley is compiling data from every project undertaken by the company globally.

“By analysing the data from previous projects, we can look at statistical patterns regarding safety for example, and predict typical risk areas. This enables our customers to take proactive measures based on the history of similar projects.

“We are currently incorporating this data into the BIM process which will enable customers to make statistical projections about things such as the highest risk phases of a project lifecycle,” says Dreyer.

“Beyond the project scope, sustainability is the highest ranking agenda on any board, and tools such as SaltGrid and BIM will help our customers to quantify and manage issues such as access to energy, access to water, and the need to reduce carbon emissions.

“As the pre-eminent global provider of professional services to the energy, chemicals and resources sectors following Worley’s acquisition of Jacobs Engineering Group’s Energy, Chemicals and Resources division, we now have far greater expertise, more resources and access to latest technology to help our customers navigate the challenges our customers face, from the front-end studies to every phases of a project across the full mining value chain,” says Dreyer.

“Our combined global footprint, skills and capabilities has created a new force to be reckoned with, which is set to be a clear world leader in the mining, minerals and metals space.”