The World Economic Forum metals and mining group, together with Accenture, has explored how mining and metals companies can start to shift to the ‘new paradigm of work' to build resilience and flexibility for operations and the workforce through uncertain times.
Specifically, three stages have been identified to assist the mining and metals industry to rebound from the unfolding crisis, take collective action and shift to the new paradigm of work.
The first, rebounding operations, is about finding creative solutions to keep people in the workplace and maintaining production in a tight economic period.
Secondly, evolving digital solutions, involves shifting to digital to address the need for flexibility and fast action and maintaining an agile response as businesses shift to virtual operating models in the mid-long term.
And thirdly, building a skilled ecosystem - creating systemic and sustainable change in operations through building an organisational culture that can thrive through disruption. Partnerships and collaboration will be essential to creating an ecosystem for operational resilience and flexibility.
The COVID-19 crisis has heightened the need for companies to put employee safety first and many organisations responded by protecting their workforce through adjusting fly-in, fly-out rosters, decreasing the number of people on site, implementing quarantines, and exploring further digitisation of planning, dispatch and asset health functions.
By adopting creative solutions, operational continuity can be maintained. For example, minimising worker movement and exposure between sites, tracking and monitoring contractors, assessing jobs and identifying necessary skills and focusing on scheduling and planning flexibility will all help keep people in the workplace and maintain production in a tight economic period.
Evolving digital solutions
As COVID-19 pushes remote working, the health response has accelerated the shift to digital. The need for flexibility and fast action has demanded that companies scale their implementations of digital solutions and provided an opportunity for them to build and strengthen their virtual operating models.
Ultimately, a virtual operating model will give mining and metals companies the ability to improve productivity, reduce energy costs and enable greater safety. When it comes to what companies can do, maintaining agility is essential and can be done by building a strong foundation of data, connecting people and assets, enabling automated decision making and scheduling and implementing autonomous operations and remote operating centres.
Building a skilled ecosystem
By creating a strong ecosystem of companies and external organisations, the industry can create resilience and flexibility that will sustain. Ultimately, the focus must go on to creating systemic and sustainable change in operations through building an organisational culture that can thrive through disruption.
The metals and mining sector has opportunities in building industry attractiveness, transitioning a workforce to work with automation, building a leadership culture, and creating opportunities for skill building.
Companies can make changes and grow towards the future by starting with a flexible organisation and building a culture of leadership. They can also assist in transitioning a workforce to work with technology, creating opportunities for skill building and to increase industry attractiveness and engage new talent. Now is the time to excite new recruits about the opportunities in the industry.
The COVID-19 crisis has created an opportunity for mining and metals companies to ride the winds of change and collaborate. Companies need to start working towards creating an industry-wide response to attract new talent, define and map workforce skills and collectively invest in different educational pathways to build skills and future talent.
These three stages are a structure to rebound from the unfolding crisis. They can guide the mining and metals industry toward a collaborative response and while businesses need to respond differently, these stages can provide a framework to move towards collective action for the industry.
*Gaston Carrion leads Accenture's talent and organisation practice for resources across Asia Pacific.