If managing employees within a single office space is considered difficult, one can only imagine what being a manage on a mining operation is like. These operations are, as expected, gargantuan in size, meaning there are hundreds – if not thousands – of employees scattered across a vast space.
Churning out somewhere around $120 billion per year despite slipping away from the boom of earlier times, Australia’s mining industry remains massive, with a number of operations running across the nation at all times.
Easily the most popular location for mining in the nation is Western Australia, where the local mining sector generated $94.8 billion last year, according the most recent statistics from the Department of Mines and Petroleum.
Looking to support the Western Australian mining industry, as well as mining operations across the globe, is Perth-based startup Springtech. Through ‘Spring Portal’, one of the startup’s two core online platforms, mining companies are able to easily manage their exploration and field staff online.
Meanwhile its sister platform, Spring Data Room, offers mining companies a set of tools allowing them to churn their data, such as mine designs, resource models as well as transactions, and present them in a format that banks and investors can easily understand.
To Alex Goulios, the startup’s founder and CEO, working around mining-based solutions came naturally.
With a long background in mining consulting, Goulios had found that a lot of clients were looking for a solution that allowed them to connect their office employees to the operators on a mining site, who were separated by huge distances.
Naturally, they were looking for a cloud-based solution that would allow company staff to communicate their data and progress regardless of where they were positioned on a site.
“Our first need to solve was that customers were paying $40,000 to $60,000 for a data tool, and we saw an opportunity to develop something a lot more cost effective and tailored for the mining industry. So we created the product, combining new features with what existed previously,” said Goulios.
While there were a lot of “enterprise grade” options in the space that helped companies deal with “hardcore technical and geological data”, Goulios felt there was a clear space for cost-effective tool that would focus on collation and collaboration, which would become Spring Mining.
As for developing Spring Portal, Goulios said that there wasn’t a mining-focused “dataroom” tool out there for companies.
By supporting a plethora of file formats and data types, the product would offer an organised method for mining companies to securely upload and distribute their data to stakeholders, such as banks.
Data uploaded to Spring Portal can later be distributed through mapping tools and 3D modelling platforms supporting mining file formats. The alternative for mining companies, Goulios explained, was to use unsecured cloud-storage platforms such as Dropbox.
Development for the products began roughly two and a half years ago using Springtech’s in-house development team, with the project bootstrapped by Goulios before being supported by customers who came aboard as early adopters.
Spring Data Room later emerged from development as a “full collaborative platform” where, similar to a traditional project management tool, mining companies are able to delegate who access the platform, what permissions they have, and how data is captured.
“Miners traditionally go out into the field, run a program, do some drilling exploration, capture data, and it’ll be three, four, five weeks or even longer before that data is digitised, compiled and sent to the boardroom. That’s the problem we looked at, by aiming to minimise the time from observation to digital capture,” explained Goulios.
“It’s about helping the boardroom members gain access to the data faster, then make decisions about what to do next faster. The guys back at head office view this data through the live dashboard and reports.”
Specifically, Spring Data Room can be used to track safety issues, drill management, planned maintenance and geospatial features, allocate crews members to tasks, visualise a snapshot of the operation, and integrate data from mining plant sensors to a security log.
While Goulios emphasised that mining was the core market focus of Spring Data Room, he said the product is also being used in the agriculture industry.
Hay farmers dealing with vast paddocks use the platform to help manage data around contamination, before sending the information back to a managing company or head office to inform them about what’s happening on the ground.
As for the mining industry, the entrepreneur said that a number of companies both locally and internationally are using the platform to inform their work, with some companies using the technology to manage projects occurring across borders in areas as remote as Utah from a central base.
Goulios said he’s now looking to improve both of the startup’s products, and is looking Springtech’s customer base to hear about what can be developed or added.
Image: Alex Goulios. Source: Supplied.