NJ: Thanks for tuning in. I’m Neville Judd from HxGN Radio. Mining is undergoing a transformation. Successful mines recognize that a unified digital strategy is essential to improve support for business decision making. Today, we welcome Rob Daw, recently appointed Chief Technology Officer with Hexagon’s mining division. Rob joins us to discuss how Hexagon is helping to drive this digital transformation via end-to-end life-of-mine integration. So, Rob, thanks for joining us in the hot seat. You bring more than 15 years’ experience in both open pit and underground operations. You were involved with your own startup business. Tell us a little bit about how you got into the industry.
RD: Yeah, so my background’s from the primary industry. I originally grew up on a farm in remote Western Australia. I started out in the surveying world, slowly progressed into the engineering consulting purposes, and then really dived into the technology world, trying to enable the mining operations with different and unique technology. So, I was a cofounder of MiPlan Consulting, and what we really did focus on there was around enabling data for mining operations and being able to progress that technology through and now to within Hexagon. It’s really been an epic journey and something I’ve really enjoyed as much as the mining industry itself, but also that technology journey.
NJ: Very cool. You were recently appointed Chief Technology Officer. What are your expectations, and what are your business priorities as CTO?
RD: For me, I really want to focus on what we do today. So, we are delivering some of the world-class technologies to the mining industry. We want to continue to focus on our customers and how we can deliver more value through our products, and as well as assisting with the services of those products as well. So, it’s really looking at ourselves and making sure that we practice what we preach as well, and being able to deliver to our guys internally how we can get better in our day-to-day jobs as well, and help them out.
NJ: You travel a lot, visiting mines, talking to miners. What are the most common challenges you’re hearing about from them?
RD: Yeah, I think over the last three years, or five years, even, in the industry, we’re definitely increasing productivity, improving safety, reducing costs, those being the three key drivers. And they’re as relevant today as they have been over the last five years, or 10 years, even. I think the big challenge is, that I’m starting to identify, as a lot of these new technologies that the industry is starting to pick up, you know, things like autonomous and these areas; the social change that is coming into the mines; social licensing, if you want to call it; how we adapt our workforce; how we bring our workforce along with us on the technology journey is definitely something that is going to be a challenge for a lot of the industry and something that I think we need to really have a strong focus on.
NJ: So, Rob, just for people who don’t know anything about Hexagon’s mining division, give us a snapshot of the portfolio, from exploration right through to reclamation.
RD: Yeah, so I think we’ve touched on it previously around how broad the portfolio of technology Hexagon has. So, everything from our MinePlan product suite, where we touch on exploration from drill-hole analysis, and storage into design, scheduling, planning, and then to the production world for drill and blast and all those tools. We, then, have the technology to then push that into the operations world. So, we have our capabilities through fleet management, asset health, and then also looking at things like our safety portfolio where we have collision avoidance in personal alert, so vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-person protection, as well as then intervening on those particular instances as well, so vehicle intervention. And then we have a really exciting area we’re starting to work on as well with our autonomous portfolio where we are looking at assistive technologies. So really working with our clients on the journey and the roadmap to autonomy, so we can facilitate that change-management process in those mines as well. And then the big thing with all these different technologies is they serve a purpose and they deliver value on their own, but what they also do is generate a substantial amount of information and data. And so we also have the enterprise platform which enables us to pull all this information together and really then drive value through understanding the interactions between these different technologies and giving insights, or unparalleled insights, into each of those portfolios, but also a holistic view as well.
NJ: What are the long-term challenges you’re keeping an eye on with regards to research and development?
RD: Yeah, so the key, I guess the hot topic in the mining industry really is around autonomous, but for me as well, there’s also an element of with autonomous so I think we look at the trucks, the equipment, and automating that process, but for me, there’s also a whole other world of autonomous in terms of technology with processes and you know, some of the office-type technologies that we can automate as well. So, I’m really keen to look at how those two worlds, it’s almost the office and the field can merge in that autonomous role.
NJ: There’s a lot of tech vendors in the marketplace, Rob. Where do you think Hexagon has the edge?
RD: I think our experience—we’ve got 50 years of software experience, we’ve got 200 years of hardware experience, and that does tell a lot. I’m coming from a startup myself. I really do understand the challenges of bringing technology to a marketplace, and having that experience really does drive consistency. It drives certainty for our clients. And I think that’s really what stands us apart from a lot of the other tech vendors.
NJ: Exciting times ahead, Rob. Thanks so much for joining us.
RD: Thank you.
NJ: We’d like to thank our guest, Rob Daw. For more information about today’s topic, visit hexagonmining.com. And to listen to additional episodes or learn more, visit hxgnspotlight.com. Thanks for tuning in.