BHP Billiton is rapidly scaling up a new information technology and operational technology (IT-OT) team in Perth to oversee mobile control systems used at its iron ore mines.
The team will form part of a new organisation called Production Systems Operations (Australia).
The organisation will consist of “production systems operations”, “site operations” and “technology operations” teams.
The technology operations team will take over responsibility for IT-OT systems on manned and automated equipment, as well as mine site networks.
The miner closed its first round of recruitment for new roles including a principal of technology on manned equipment and “multiple” technical engineers over the weekend.
A BHP Billiton spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment on the timing of the build-out of the new organisation and technology team, nor on how many existing IT-OT resources have been moved in.
However, its now-expired advertisements - together with a fresh round of ads - reveal the extent of the remit the new team will have over technology systems at its sites.
It covers manned fleet management systems such as Caterpillar’s Minestar, Modular’s Dispatch and Leica’s Jigsaw.
It also has responsibility for the technology underpinning BHP Billiton’s autonomous operations, including Caterpillar’s Minestar Command and Atlas Copco’s Surface Manager.
In addition, the team covers the systems used for blast hole drilling, driver safety, and “in-cab and end point technology devices for all fleet and drill”.
A fresh batch of recruitment advertisements indicates the new team will also house an extensive radiofrequency engineering capability that will take over functions including spectrum planning, predictive maintenance and incident response.
And the team will also cover the control systems associated with BHP Billiton’s fixed plant. This will include both IT and OT systems from the likes of Cisco, HP, Microsoft and VMware, through to SCADA systems, Allen-Bradley PLCs and GE’s Proficy historian.
BHP Billiton – like other big miners – has used its iron ore operations in Western Australia as a testbed for innovation that can be brought into other areas of its business.
The miner this month revealed it is taking the integrated remote operations centre (IROC) concept that it perfected in iron ore and transferring it to its coal operations on the East Coast.
The establishment of a production systems organisation and technology team in iron ore could be a precursor to similar moves into other parts of the BHP Billiton business, should the project be successful in driving further efficiency into mine site operations.