Austmine conference

Joining the dots of innovation

Austmine conference to be held in Perth, Western Australia, 20-23 May 2013

The skill of bringing together seemingly disparate and disconnected elements to provide a valuable solution to a new challenge is the key to making innovation relevant and meaningful.

That’s the approach being taken by leading strategic consulting, engineering and project delivery firm Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM). They are developing an innovation program, which focuses on both “on project” and “off project” incremental and major step-change innovations, which offer real value.

As a gold sponsor of the Austmine conference, to be held in Perth, Western Australia on 20-23 May 2013, SKM will be showcasing its innovation credentials, particularly in relation to the mining sector.

SKM’s executive leader for sustainability and innovation, Dr Nick Fleming, said that SKM developed an innovation program in direct response to client requirements for new solutions to increasingly complex business and project challenges.

“Our drivers for developing an innovation program are to meet the needs of our clients and their projects, as well as enhancing our people’s engagement and contribution by connecting with each other to share new ideas and innovative solutions,” Dr Fleming said.

In terms of mining, SKM has identified a number of drivers for innovation in the sector. These include, from a business perspective, the need to continually look for ways to increase shareholder value, to meet the global demand for commodities, to “do more with less” and maintain a social licence to operate.

Operationally, the increasing complexity of ore extraction, the shift towards continuous and autonomous mining and the continued focus on safety, means that mining companies are under increasing pressure to find new ways of operating.

Added to this, is the shortage of skilled workers and the location of mines increasingly being in remote locations and in harsh conditions.

“Our innovation approach at SKM is a two-part process. Firstly, of understanding the innovations we are already implementing and how they can be applied elsewhere in the business, what we call ‘on project innovation’. And secondly, collaborating with clients and external organisations to develop new approaches to future challenges, what we call ‘off project’ innovation,” Dr Fleming said.

“We have many examples of innovation on our mining projects, including utilising modularisation to improve safety and schedule, incorporating mass mining techniques to decrease the carbon footprint of the mine and the long-term costs of operation, and integrating our engineering design with procurement and delivery in a seamless system to reduce re-work and project costs in the long-term. These innovative approaches can be applied across our global business wherever our clients and projects are located."

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Issue 42