Earlier this year, Jeannette McGill joined AspenTech as Vice President and General Manager, Metals and Mining. On behalf of the Blog and Social Content Team, we are delighted to welcome Jeannette to the company. Jeannette recently sat down with our blog editor, Marilyn Guisbond, to share some initial thoughts on digitalization, profitability, and metals and mining.
Marilyn Guisbond: Hello and welcome, Jeannette. If you could, please share a bit about your work in the metals and mining industry, and also how AspenTech fits in.
Jeannette McGill: The mining sector is something I have been passionate about my entire career. In this world, if the raw materials for our 21st century demands aren’t supplied via agriculture they need to be mined. From the very first day on the job, I’ve been on the forefront of change. Be that through the development and deployment of various advanced technologies, or via demographics; the mining sector has continued to evolve. The opportunity to continue to provide the mining sector with support for change, and to grow a business unit focused on a sector that can benefit from AspenTech’s best -in-class industrial software is what inspired me to come on board.
MG: Digitalization is a hot topic in all of our industries. How would you say that digitalization impacts organizational profitability and sustainability goals for metals and mining companies?
JM: The metals and mining sector is often accused of being a technological laggard when compared to other sectors. With investments that need to last far longer than say, cellphone handset upgrade cycles, mining technologies often need to provide sufficient value to be embedded for the entire Life-of-Mines. Mining is inherently dangerous and often occurs in remote geographies and locations. Therefore, a primary digitalization driver is to support the safety of the workforce. This then provides direct impact into other sustainability drivers. With the knock-on impact of events like a global pandemic, this has further underpinned the need for resilient and digitized operations that can be operated by remote means.
MG: What do you consider to be the top three ways in which digitalization brings value to the mining industry? And how does the AspenTech strategy (for the Self-Optimizing Plant) support this?
JM: Digitalization brings value to the mining sector across the nexus of people, process and technology. Digital capability supported by AspenTech software allows the production process to deliver gains in value and for the workforce to be both upskilled and function in modern, safe environments.
Digitalization supports the sustainability and environmental imperative allowing the reduction of surface footprints of mine sites, enabling embedded technologies for remote observation.
Efficient monitoring, maintenance and performance protecting assets and workforce from threats – especially for high value inputs such as energy and water ultimately support reduced down time and greater efficiency.
MG: How has the metals and mining industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
JM: Metals and mining operations are most often located in remote locations and in even more remote geographies. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a critical shift in the adoption of and adaptation to technology. While many companies have elected to observe how the top tier producers are deploying various technologies across the entire value chain, smaller operators often adopted a wait-and-see approach. The pandemic has been the catalyst required to force decision-making and expenditure to support the digital transformation of operations, especially where the ease of workforce mobility and the availability of critical sparing supply chains has been significantly impacted. The pandemic has resulted in significant technology adoption and adaptation, which further underpins the investment thesis of AspenTech to deploy the best-in-class industrial software to this sector.
MG: Thanks for taking the time to speak to our readers, Jeannette. Any concluding remarks? What would you like our audience to take away from this interview?
JM: The time is right for significant positive change for the metals and mining sector globally – in a post-pandemic world there is an opportunity to embed modern workplace methodologies into a sector that has previously struggled to embed technological change and that also supports changes in workplace culture which, when combined, will ultimately support both growth and sustainability.
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