20 July 2022
BHP Technology has introduced a new symbiotic operating model that delivers high-impact digital solutions for our operations globally, enhancing the way we work and achieving our future-focused priorities.
Digital Ways of Working is an approach adopted by the Digital Product Team — a unified community of technical roles, where software engineers, technologists, designers, operators, analytics experts, machine learning experts, and mining subject matter experts in maintenance, technical and operations, unite, to bring new ways of thinking to BHP.
Group Technology Officer, Kelly Ferguson, said this unique way of working is helping drive improvements in performance outcomes for the Company.
“Technology is a critical value lever for BHP and is key to building a safer, more reliable, and more productive business,” Kelly said.
“Our approach to delivering high-value digital solutions is supporting this in many ways through improvements in performance outcomes, introducing cloud adoption at sites to help simplify maintenance and improve security, and we’re also seeing our teams co-design products with our engineers to improve safety controls across automated systems.
“It’s been really exciting to see our Digital teams deliver innovative solutions to challenges facing our teams at site and on the frontline; and identifying opportunities where we can improve at a larger scale across our operations globally.”
The Digital Ways of Working was originally piloted in 2020 in Brisbane, through the concept of a Digital Factory to support the Coal operations across Queensland.
This unique way of working has now been replicated globally, supporting our Iron Ore operations in Western Australia, and our Copper operations in Chile and North America, as well as the priorities of our Functional teams and our Centres of Excellence.
“Today, the acceleration of digitisation globally is extraordinary, so as a Company it’s important we hire and retain people with diverse talents, disciplines, and experiences, to ensure we’re continuously improving in all that we do, and deliver long-term, world class value,” Kelly said.
“I’m really proud of how diverse, multi-disciplinary and mission-focused our Digital teams are. The products and systems our teams deliver are achieved through thoughtful collaboration — always ensuring the end-user is front-of-mind and their needs are met.”
To-date, the products and systems delivered by the Digital teams have driven significant safety, productivity and cost-savings outcomes.
In Minerals Australia, the introduction of Processing and Set Point Optimisation (PASPO) — the first cloud-based solution and application of machine learning for BMA — provides a competitive edge to achieve industry-leading coal blend compliance. In FY22, it has delivered 385,000 additional product tonnes exceeding its target by more than 250 per cent through a period of record market prices.
PASPO was delivered in partnership with the BHP Integrated Remote Operating Centre (IROC) to improve blend feed visibility for coal handling and processing plants and provide optimised wash setting recommendations to achieve target product quality specifications. PASPO has also been recognised as a finalist in the Queensland Mining Awards.
In Minerals America, a digital tool FROTH (Flotation Recommendation Operation Tool and Heuristics) supports our sensitive flotation processes at our Escondida processing plant, to concentrate the Copper rich particles from other substances. The tool was developed collaboratively between Integrated Operations, Planning and Process Control and Technology, to support decision-making using artificial intelligence models that result in real-time set point recommendations for systems and tools impacting the operations. As a result, in FY22 FROTH delivered greater revenue and cost reduction in reagent consumption due to greater ore recovery, standardisation of operational practices and safer and more stable process outcomes.
“The solutions being realised already by our teams, really have the potential to revolutionise the way we operate and enhance our operational capabilities,” Kelly said.