By Jami Dwyer
I’m excited to be a part of Barrick’s digital transformation and leading the development of the Asset Health tool. This project is something new and innovative, and it’s a chance to improve the current system. Before I came to Barrick, I had 15 years of experience doing research for the mining industry, and I loved those projects. But I also love working at the mine, playing in the dirt with HUGE equipment, blasting and all of those fun activities that define mining. Digital transformation is a way of marrying my love of mining with my love of innovation and research. It ties everything together very neatly.
I’ve worked in a number of different roles at Barrick and got my foot in the door in 2007 as a Drill and Blast Engineer and worked my way up to managing the engineering departments at Goldstrike and Cortez’s open pits in Nevada. In 2014, I had the opportunity to move into maintenance and manage the Cortez open pit maintenance group. That was really an eye-opener and gave me a whole new perspective on a facet of the business that I had not been exposed to very much.
It’s about more than changing the oil and a few filters.
These are multi-million dollar machines with very complex electrical systems that require dedicated and well-trained technicians to keep them running. I’ve been lucky to have many different roles and feel very lucky that I am now a part of the digital effort to transform the way we do maintenance. The goal of the digital projects is to make life easier for the people that I have worked with in the past.
The Asset Health tool we’re developing is going to benefit the mechanics and the shop supervisors. Instead of firefighting one breakdown after another, they will be able to focus on planned jobs making their days a lot less hectic and much more prioritized. Rather than running around trying to collect and verify data needed for maintenance work, data will all be available to our maintenance teams through the suite of Barrick Digital Maintenance products and software that are currently being developed.
These digital maintenance tools will also save planners and reliability engineers hours per week, so that instead of spending time gathering data, they will be able to spend more time analyzing data, prioritizing planned work and making better and faster decisions. The time saved and the monitoring of asset conditions will help our maintenance teams do their repair work proactively by catching failures before they occur and will allow us to extend component life while ensuring the equipment is still in good operating condition. Late last year the Cortez open pit experienced a planned to unplanned work ratio of about 50/50 (i.e. about half of the work rolling into the shop was an unplanned breakdown). I know this tool will help us do better.
I think people have a sense that digital can improve our lives – look at everything your iPhone can do now compared to five years ago. Technology advances exponentially so we are trying to harness all of this data and these innovative tools to make maintenance easier. The project will bring value to our operations by decreasing unplanned breakdowns, preventing collateral damage from failed systems, and using equipment condition data to extend component life. This will lead to improved availability and lower maintenance costs. If the pilot project is successful, other Barrick sites and other equipment types will be added to the system.
People don’t know what the future looks like but I’d say, keep an open mind and focus on what’s important.
Jami has more than 28 years of experience in mining. She holds B.S. degrees in Applied Computer Science and in Mining Engineering from Montana Tech as well as an M.S. degree in Mining Engineering from the University of Missouri-Rolla. She has experience in research, health & safety, operations, engineering, and maintenance at open pit and underground mines.