Q1: What are the main challenges facing aggregate producers today?
The main challenge we see for our aggregate producing clients in today’s markets, is how to make their operations more efficient and therefore more profitable. Key to building better efficiency is having the right information to make decisions. With mobile crushing and screening equipment moving frequently between sites, often in remote locations, it can be really difficult to track, monitor and maintain fleets of equipment for maximum performance. The oftentimes conflicting pressures to drive performance while keeping costs in check can also be problematic. When a decision is made without the correct information or data, the result can be extended downtime or lower production rates which impacts the bottom line of any operation.
Q2: What trends are you seeing in the industry to address these challenges?
What we are seeing is that more and more aggregate producers are trying to focus on their core business while turning to partners to find smarter, more efficient ways to design, operate and service their equipment and processes. Services and tools that can help them address things such as utilization rates, maintenance planning and spares management in order to lower costs are all being looked at by our clients.
Q3: You recently launched a new digital solution, Metso Metrics Services at Conexpo 2017 in Las Vegas. Can you explain what exactly it is?
Metso Metrics Services is a remote monitoring and reporting system that gives our aggregate producing customers access to key operational metrics and data. It allows utilization rates, production levels, maintenance plans and fuel consumption for mobile equipment to all be accessible from any location by authorized personnel. The solution also helps track the location of a single unit or an entire fleet wherever they are located. Time stamped alarm notifications and maintenance planning and logging capabilities are also built in. Through access to the right information at the right time, a producer supported by advice from Metso can maximize equipment utilization and minimize maintenance related costs so that they can achieve their business goals.
Q4: Does a digital tool like this solve all of your customer’s production issues?
No. A solution such as Metso Metrics Services is not just a digital tool, it can provide a range of operational and maintenance data on a single crusher or an entire crushing and screening fleet. Once a trend or outlier is identified, steps can be put in place to take actions to address the issue. The key is in having that expertise to analyze the data provided by such digital solution, and this is where the expertise provided by Metso and its partners makes the difference. Using decades of crushing and screening experience working with customers coupled with intimate knowledge of our equipment, means that you can rely on us to provide solid recommendations to allow you to get more out of our equipment and your process.
Q5: How can this solution help producers get more out of their existing assets?
One key way it can help is by providing the data to really see how each crusher in your fleet is performing in terms of production levels and utilization rates. By looking at outliers, customers, supported by Metso when needed, can quickly identify underperforming assets. The interesting part then becomes trying to understand what is causing the underperformance. Is the machine set up with the right operating parameters? Is the equipment out of action due to not having the right spare parts readily available? It could also be a question of a need for operator training in order to push the equipment to its full capabilities. Metso Metrics Services will not identify the exact cause of underperformance but in order to start asking the right questions, you need to have the data to analyze and spot these types of situations. With additional support, insights and expertise available from the Metso team and our distributors in terms of operational or maintenance planning, there are opportunities to really make the big difference in terms of performance.
Q6: How does a solution like Metso Metrics help with maintenance planning?
It helps by shifting the focus away from corrective maintenance and more towards preventive maintenance. Corrective maintenance has been shown to be many times over as costly as preventive maintenance. The reason being is that when assets fail in the field, production is often interrupted, resulting in costly downtime. Parts may not be readily available or may be on order, causing further delays. Repair staff may not be available immediately or allocated to other sites. With a built in digital log book, individual maintenance plans integrated into the system and access to optional troubleshooting and advice, customers gain visibility on their equipment to help them take the next step towards having a true preventive maintenance program. This in turn, helps to minimize unwanted service issues in the field, and ensures that operations are run in the most cost effective manner
Q7: What does it take for an OEM like Metso to succeed in a world pushing towards digitalization?
A very good question! At Metso we see digitalization not as a stand-alone subject. We see it tying in with all the service activities we offer but also taking everything a step further, amplifying the results we provide. To succeed in a world heading towards digitalization, we believe an OEM needs to:
(1) Have a global service presence with people on-site, close to the customer
(2) Possess a deep understanding of the customers’ processes and productivity levers
(3) Create skills and capabilities to solve the customer’s digital challenges with remote monitoring and advanced analytics, coupled with efficient backend and service processes and supported by easy-to-use digital sales channels.
In all three, Metso is already the leader in crushing and screening. We however believe there is much more to do and we feel we are very well positioned to extend our digital capabilities and to capture the growth that digitalization offers. We believe the next 10 years will be an incredibly exciting time for Metso as we blend together technology, parts and service elements to offer the very best solution for our clients. To spearhead our efforts in this this area and maintain our leadership, Metso recently appointed Jani Puroranta as our Chief Digital Officer.