Vale, in partnership with Chemtech, is implementing a new management system for its iron-ore and manganese business units in Brazil, replacing 17 other systems that were being used.
Overall, 38 mines, plants and warehouses will have the new system, called Vale Production Management – Mining (GPV-M). The implementation has so far been rolled out across 20 units in Minas Gerais, Maranhão and Pará, and Vale expects the initiative to generate US$70 million in savings until 2020.
GPV-M began development in 2014. Vale’s IT and Ferrous areas businesses partnered with Chemtech, a Siemens Group company, and implementation began in October 2016.
The product provides a supply chain management platform for the ferrous business, encompassing mines, railroads and ports, to streamline the entire production process.
Janio Souza, Vale’s IT innovation manager, said: “GPV-M is one of the foundations of our digital strategy, which aims to establish a platform that will allow Vale to reach new heights of productivity through a combination of new technologies and processes.”
Vale said the change brings three major financial gains: first, a reduction in IT costs associated with the maintenance and evolution of different systems and platforms, which represents up to US$19 million up to 2020.
Second are avoided costs to the business through a reduction in downtime. And lastly, relevant gains are expected with more labour productivity and better asset utilisation, supported by improved availability of information and decision-making. These two operational gains are expected to generate US$53 million in the same period.
The reduction in downtime (time during which the system is ‘offline’) is the result of more modern and robust technology compared to the older systems. Increased agility is also achieved through a higher level of integration with automation systems that provide immediate and reliable data.
Vale said another great advantage of adopting a single system is that it allows the standardisation of concepts and indicators in different units of the company. The whole operational expertise of these units will be gathered into a digital database, facilitating the replication of best practices and internal benchmarking, making the decision-making process more dynamic and competitive.
Jonas Chagas, project manager, commented: “Over the years, Vale has acquired several companies and each one adopted its own system. For the first time we are standardising all these systems.”
Marcelo Baltar, Vale’s ferrous information manager, added: “Now we can compare more easily the performance of our units, thus identifying process improvement points to enable increased productivity.”
GPV-M is capable of processing 1.2 terabytes of information in real time for thousand concurrent users. Since it began to be deployed, the system has already been used by a thousand different users, with over 150 users accessing it simultaneously.
Because the system is the intellectual property of Vale, it will be possible to keep extending the solution in the future and developing new functions from the analysis of the data generated and other technologies.