Newcrest Mining has created 36 mobile apps to get its 3500 remotely-based mine workers away from their desks and more productive when out in the field.
The ASX-listed gold miner was recently outed as one of the first companies through a Melbourne-based SAP Apphaus, a growing network of spaces run by SAP or its partners to encourage design thinking around problems.
The Melbourne-based space is run by Bourne Digital and was officially launched in late March, though it has been part of the Apphaus network since December.
The miner also landed a global SAP innovation award for the project in the past month.
Newcrest’s chief information and digital officer Gavin Wood said the company’s IT and digital function had used the space to find ways “to deliver a number of mobile innovations” using SAP cloud.
“With user centered design we're developing a range of apps that improve productivity for our people working remotely at our operations,” Wood said.
“This gets them away from their desks, out in the field, and reduces manual processes.
“To date, we've delivered 36 mobile apps with around 35,000 mobile transactions per month.”
Wood showed off several apps that had been developed under the project so far.
These included a “Telfer shutdown app, simple maintenance fix-this app, warehouse management mobility app, and [an] EasySAP employee self service app.”
Mines undergo periodic planned shutdowns to allow time for equipment maintenance or replacement.
“The Telfer shutdown app supports our shutdown workforce at our Telfer mine site in Western Australia,” Wood said.
“Shutdowns lead to an influx of temporary workers who often aren't familiar with the site.
“They need safety information, they need to find their way around the site and the app helps them do that.”
The “fix-this” app, meanwhile, offers workers a way to capture and log maintenance requests at the time they identify a potential problem or concern onsite.
Prior to the app, notifying maintenance planners of a problem was done mostly via email, and that led to requests being missed, delays, and potentially unplanned outages and safety hazards, the miner said.
“The fix-this mobile app simplifies the process for raising maintenance requests for our assets at site,” Wood said.
“The app uses machine vision to identify the asset - a light vehicle for example; speech-to-text, which captures the issues from the operator; text analytics to identify the asset's attributes; and an offline capability to send notifications to SAP so they can be scheduled.
“Offline is important because our sites are in remote locations and don't always have wi-fi or mobile coverage.”
The miner said that the speech-to-text and text analytics pieces of the app come from Apple’s Siri.
The warehouse management app is built to run on Zebra barcoding handheld devices “with the objective of improving control and optimising warehouse operations and inventory processes from goods receipt to goods issue.
“This has improved lead time for supply of goods to maintenance and visibility of parts reducing the risk of unplanned outages,” Newcrest said.
Meanwhile, the employee and manager self-service app saw 23 functions migrated to SAP cloud.
Newcrest estimated that it had so far saved 105,000 “productivity hours” annually by moving more administrative tasks to mobile.