Brodie von Berg, MD at Australian mining digitisation firm MiX Telematics talks crunching data and how his company helps customers turn that into real-life success stories in areas as diverse as improving driving performance, video-based monitoring and increasing efficiency.
How long have you been in the telematics industry and what do you do for MiX?
I am the MD for the Asia and Oceana regions at MiX Telematics. As I approach my 15th year at the company, I can say that my enthusiasm for this business only increases over time. My tech background and passion for road safety has allowed me to work with great customers from all over the world to help save lives, reduce accident-related injuries while also optimising their fleets. It is truly rewarding to wake up each day knowing we are making the world a better place.
How are your mining clients using AI and other technology to improve their mining operations?
Our mining customers have a great appetite for data and while this is no easy feat within the harsh mining environment, we successfully acquire vast amounts of rich, high-quality data from both vehicles and assets (such as generators) on mine sites.
The challenge now lies in turning that data into information that can produce tangible benefits such as preventing a potential vehicle crash by improving driving safety or eliminating redundant assets without impeding vital operations. Business intelligence data visualisation tools are a current mainstream method of combining multiple data sets and providing dashboard-style analysis that enable customers to rapidly identify anomalies and quickly make informed decisions.
A small portion of our customers have made investments in AI to reduce manpower while at the same time increasing the accuracy and speed with which anomalies are identified so that action can be taken to, for example, improve driving performance or realise cost savings.
Another avenue that yields fantastic returns for customers is integration of telematics data across their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and other business systems. The results of doing this have been incredible and have helped, among other things, to automate servicing schedules and parts orders, validate payroll and improve tax credit reporting.
What mining safety tools are in the MiX pipeline?
The most exciting leap is the adoption of AI into our in-vehicle camera systems, providing real-time detection of driver fatigue, distracted behaviour and lane positioning. As soon as any of these issues are detected, immediate alerts are sent to the driver. This capability, coupled with the rich data we collect, is combined with GPS and video which provides an unparalleled method of mitigating the risk of a vehicle crash occurring.
As mobility continues to become the primary device for staff on the move, we are also embedding more technology within apps to empower users on the go. Along with our dedicated driver-focused apps where they can regularly review their own driving performance, we are also deploying our risk-based journey management engine which enables simplified and rapid journey planning with an automated risk assessment. This allows for smart, quick decision-making around the potential risk of each journey before it has even started.
What do you see customers asking for in today’s mining market?
As the focus for mining operators has turned to the bottom line, there is a strong focus on leveraging a tool that was previously more health and safety focused to now also drive efficiency and cost savings. The telematics data we deliver in dynamic formats enables the assessment of utilisation, fuel efficiency, harsh driving behaviour that increase maintenance costs, and fuel tax credits that are due to mine sites being off public roads.
The demand extends beyond vehicles and into mobile assets, a unique capability we offer to locate mobile assets using vehicles that have been equipped with our telematics hardware. This provides an extremely cost-effective solution to keep assets visible and it is a positive ROI case for mine sites needing to locate light assets on-site to avoid loss.
Can you provide examples of ways in which your technology is being applied by your mining clients, such as improving driving performance?
We are fortunate to have great customers that care deeply about the safety of their people. All of our mining customers have been able to reliably quantify the risk profile of their road vehicle drivers. Using the real-time feedback, management reporting and executive dashboards we provide, they are able to identify high-risk drivers and reduce unsafe behaviours. Some customers extend the monitoring to on-site assets like heavy mining equipment in order to have a single view of all mobile assets, not just vehicles. Video-based monitoring that includes fatigue detection is certainly being adopted rapidly and further adding to the risk reduction theme.
The joyous part is the return on investment multiple that is achieved by combining a reduction in fuel consumption, unnecessary mileage and assets, unnecessary maintenance and fuel tax credits for fuel burnt off public roads.