Founded in 2001, Dariel Solutions, a company whose core business is software development and integration, and strategic business applications, has received South African and foreign recognition for a weighbridge and security system designed and adapted for the mining industry.
In an interview with Mining Review Africa, executive director Greg Vercellotti describes Dariel as a technology company focused on customised software to cater for the specific needs of the mining and other industries. “At the same time, we are very much on the lookout for products that we can sell to multiple clients, which means we can drop the price for the buyer. Our weighbridge system, known as Receiving and Despatch with Security (RADS), falls into this category.”
Vercellotti explains that every mining operation has got a weighbridge, because it takes in stock from not only its own mines into the processing plants, but from other mines and suppliers as well. “This scenario is so fraught with fraud issues, control issues and tracking problems. What’s out there at the moment is woefully short of what they need,” he says. “We have built up some technologies and products in the weighbridge security space in the non-mining sector that we have adapted for the mines.
“This is going to be an industry-wide initiative. We can literally have this product on the shelf, and it would merely need minor adaptation for each company in terms of which modules they need,” he says.
With this product, Dariel was selected by the Department of Trade and Industry as one of only eight companies in South Africa to represent the country at CeBIT, the largest technology expo in the world, in Hanover, Germany in March.
“We have come back with two companies wanting to become our distributors, one in Europe and the other in Russia. We also had talks with two other companies interested in using Dariel Solutions as a potential supplier,” he adds.
“Here in South Africa we have one client already for RADS, and a deal with one of the major mining houses is imminent.
“There is another product that we are quite far down the line with,” Vercellotti says. “Big organisations have to give computer access to their staff. Different staff members need access to different systems and the organisations do not have the ability to track who has what access. We are completing an initiative in terms of which we will write an application which allows a company to manage the process of bringing somebody onto the system, and which will provide the details of each person and what access they have to what systems,” he continues.
“While this system will not be exclusive to mining, it will have huge application in the industry,” Vercellotti points out. “Because of staff turnover and movement, you have 170 odd application portfolios in some of the mining houses for small things like fingerprint readers to scanners, and they have no control over who is doing what and who has what access.”
The company has completed the design of the application, and the first deal for this system was imminent as this article went to press.
“There are three types of services we deliver that have become really valuable: software audits and reviews; programme and project management and architecture; and development,” Vercellotti explains.
First are the audits, where a company has business software that is not working for it, or there are problems, or they want to know if they can expand their system, or whether it can work in a different environment, or why certain things happened. “We go in and look at the applications they have, analyse them, examine the problems with them and see if there are strategic questions that need answering; and we put together a consulting report with some recommendations,” he says.
The second service is where a client has a technology project that needs delivering and the client needs help with the project management, business analysis and the architecture or design.
Third is where the client can’t find software products in the market and needs them custom developed to suit its business. “We do that development and write a piece of software tailored to the specific needs,” Vercellotti says.
Currently, mining accounts for about 15% of Dariel’s business, but it’s an important aspect, and there is certainly scope for it to grow.
“We have done a lot of work with the Anglo group, and this is the dominant part of our activity today. Most of our work has been with AngloGold Ashanti and Anglo Platinum,” he reveals.
“We are quite young in the mining space. We have been working with those companies for about three years. We chose the route of working with a few clients and doing it properly. We very much want to extend our reach into other organisations, and we have been approached by several.
“We work with mining industry specialists who understand all the mining processes. We take their expertise and do the modelling, mathematics and programming around the specific problem, and then we write a tailor-made system to solve the problem,” he explains. “A project from our side is always a team effort, collaboration between the specialised expertise of the client and our own technical expertise,” Vercellotti says.
“We don’t actually give them answers. Working with their specialised experts, we merely write the technology that they will use to come up with the answers for themselves.”
Looking at the prospects for the mining industry, Dariel believes that it can already see an improvement. “We have been involved in the strategic end of the mining projects. Over the past year the little, nice-to-have projects have all been put on hold or canned, whereas the major ones are continuing. We have been in a fortunate position of working on a strategic level with the clients, who are looking at how to grow as things improve, and at whether their systems can cope with such expansion,” Vercellotti points out.
“Two of the mining industry’s main priorities are safety and efficiency, and our software and technology can play a significant role in solving problems in these two areas,” he adds.