At the university I attend, the mining students have access to a small underground mine that has been re-purposed and transformed into a teaching and testing facility. It serves as a laboratory that gives us a space for experimentation of different research projects in an active mine setting, allowing us to test the innovations of tomorrow, while keeping old mining traditions alive to help us remember our roots. The mine is student run, from the managerial positions on down to fresh miners. The students handle all aspects, including the training, repair/maintenance, and excavations that go on. Though, with this amazing facility there is a draw back; knowledge that isn’t passed on by students before they graduate is lost, and left for the new students to pick up as they go along. While this is taken up with the spirit of engineering and discovery, there is something to be said about the loss of time and efficiency. While there are training manuals and records, the use of paper is unreliable because over time it gets lost and/or damaged. From this I’ve gleaned the importance of the digitization of files and data to better foster efficiency and create a time saving work environment. I take inspiration from Malcom McLean, the inventor of the standardized shipping container that was truly revolutionary to the transportation industry. What he saw in making those standardized containers was the potential for streamlining something that most companies hadn’t previously considered; the ‘vehicle’ in which goods were kept, transported, and maintained. Standardization greatly increased efficiency, and thereby profit as well. I believe in our 21st century world within the industries of mining and metals production, we can take something away from that stroke of genius. If we let the ‘vehicle’ for us be the digitalization of information and files to a central network through an easily accessible cloud hub, then the data that we put in can be seamlessly assessed to find inefficiencies and where profit is being lost; making order out of chaos. Data wouldn’t disappear into filing cabinets in some dusty backroom and no more would there be massive amounts of paper work that would be needed to be sifted through to find information; you could have the records for every shovel, truck, mill, and crusher all online. Decade’s worth of repair orders could be sorted by type or date. The options are endless. In an effort to support this idea and bring it to life at our own mine I’ve started sharing everything that I’ve made, as far as training and documentation goes, on the mines central file network to increase accessibility. While this represents just a small, localized effort, there is an inherent truth that remains; when you centralize and increase access to information then innovation is sure to follow, there by resulting in greater efficiency. As we move forward into the future of mining and metals production, I believe that it will be in the ‘white noise’ of the data where some of the greatest improvements will be found, and that by having all of the information digitized readily at our finger tips those improvements could be easily unearthed. The great thing about it is there is so much more to explore, with opportunities ranging from having the equipment themselves notify mechanics when they require repair or general maintenance, to having warehouses create buy-orders when materials are checked out. It’s an exciting time to be in the mining and metals industry, and I’m happy to be able to come in and help foster new growth!