The mining industry may be struggling at the moment and several miners are seeking ways to exit, but for South Africa’s Ansys boss Teddy Daka the capital-intensive sector is alluring to his firm, which develops technology based solutions for enterprises, including the resources market.
“If I look at our business from a vertical perspective, mining is one vertical that we are interested in,” Daka told Techfinancials this week in an interview held at the offices of the company’s manufacturing subsidiary Parsec in Centurion.
“I know mining is not as sexy as it used to be and we have seen disinvestment in that area.”
To beef up its capability in the mining sector, Ansys last month snapped up Profitek Industrial Communications for R40 million, which owns Minelert – a mission critical communications service provider in rugged mining environments.
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However, Daka sees opportunities for Ansys in all these challenges faced by mining firms.
“Investors are not investing, but mines have to find a way of being more productive and ways of reducing costs,” he said.
“To do that, they have now to invest in what they referred to as ‘digital mine’. “
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Mining companies are shifting their strategies and adopting new business and operating model than ever before, a report published by Accenture titled: Digital Mining shows.
A combination of market volatility, changing global demand, radically different input economics, new locations in search of more reserves, a focus on a longer asset lifecycle and a commitment to operational excellence – as well as policy shifts around the globe – are all contributing to a seismic shift in the industry, according to the report.
“To seize the opportunity, mining companies must leverage digital tools and capabilities to reach new levels of performance across the mining value chain.”
Ansys is seeing more growth opportunities in digital mining and that’s one of the reasons it bought Profitek.
In line with its corporate strategy, Ansys believes the acquisition of Profitek gives it the opportunity to create a leading empowered South African engineering
company with a focus and strength in the mining sector.
“So, the digital mine is just for us to enjoy locally and internationally,” said Daka.
“So, Profitek is giving us an edge in building wireless technology and we are good at building underground. This expands our capability in what we will be building in the mining environment. Hence Profitek acquisition.”
The Digital Mine leverages the best of digital technology and Internet of Things (IoT) cloud or on-premise platforms to connect the mining value chain from mine to market and from sensor to boardroom, according to Accenture.
“Data is consolidated from siloed databases such as fleet management, dispatch, historians and ERP solutions. Once consolidated, powerful analytics can be run to provide operational intelligence and trend analysis – all visualised – on tablets, smart devices, desktops and in operation centres.”
Ansys sees more opportunities in this space also.
Daka points out that the company has the capability through its telecoms business to build networks for its clients, such as mining companies.
“We don’t have licences ourselves. We are looking at building networks underground. For Wi-Fi to work underground you need to know something. That’s an area we are getting into now.”
Asked how long would it take Ansys to build an underground network for a mine, Daka chuckled and said: “We are there. It’s a question of putting the dots the I’s and crossing the T’s”.
That said, this move is helping Ansys to pursue its strategy to become a digital technology solutions provider, which leverages its own Intellectual Property to provide world-class products for global distribution.