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Case Studies

Real Time Instruments and HINDSITE: Empowering customers to solve problems

Nathan Field
Head of Customer Marketing and Brand

This article is one of our favourites from around the web. We've included an excerpt below but do go and read the original!

Original source:
  • March 15, 2024
  • Case Studies

Lower mineral grades, higher levels of innovation.

In the face of escalating global demand for minerals and against the backdrop of diminishing deposit grades, the mining and Mining Equipment, Technology, and Services (METS) industry finds itself at a crossroads.

Innovations that enhance efficiency, reduce downtime, and empower customers are not just advantageous but necessary. Real Time Instruments (RTI) stands at the forefront of this innovation, transforming challenges into opportunities.

A vision for real-time solutions

Robin Sheehy, Head of Research and Development at RTI, outlines the industry's pressing challenge: "The biggest challenge facing miners is getting the most you can out of what's in the ground," highlighting the increasing need for minerals like copper, lithium, and nickel amidst the declining quality of available deposits.

In fact, a comprehensive analysis featured on ResearchGate as early a 2016 discussed the global reality of diminishing ore grades in metallic mining, emphasising the critical role of technological processes in adapting to these lower grades. The study highlighted the evolving techniques in the mining sector aimed at efficiently processing and extracting valuable metals from increasingly lower-grade ores.

RTI has addressed this challenge head-on by supplying equipment that allows for real-time quality measurement of materials in the mining and mineral processing industry. This capability is not just an improvement; it's a revolution, enabling decisions that allow for optimising the extraction process on the fly.

The introduction of HINDSITE

With growth comes new challenges. As RTI has rapidly expanded into international markets in recent years, the need for a scalable solution to support customers around the clock, across the globe, became apparent. The business has a 24/7 phone support system, but time zone differences were becoming unmanageable.

Enter HINDSITE, designed to provide Guided Work Instructions directly to customers. Daley Smeltzer, RTI's Remote Support Manager explains, "We wanted to incorporate a self-help tool to assist customers...and provide customers with something they could do themselves."

HINDSITE does not replace RTI's 24/7 support line but complements it. The platform unlocks a self-help option that empowers users to troubleshoot issues independently, thereby alleviating pressure on RTI's support staff and enhancing customer satisfaction through autonomy and immediate problem resolution.

A typical HINDSITE use case: Empowering problem solving in real-time

In a typical RTI installation, a control room operator on a remote mining site notices an anomaly in the material quality data being reported by their RTI sensors. The traditional approach would involve calling RTI's support line, possibly waiting for a technician to become available, and then verbally navigating through troubleshooting steps—a process that could span hours or even days. This is particularly concerning for operations that depend on RTI machinery and would result in a costly shut down period.

With HINDSITE, this process is short-circuited. Smeltzer describes a typical interaction with the platform: "Say an analyzer has an error...They could go down to the instrument and open up HINDSITE on their mobile app, go through the guided Workflow for troubleshooting, and by the end, just with some basic tools, reboot or do whatever is necessary to get the analyser up and running again." This scenario not only reduces downtime significantly but also empowers on-site operators with the knowledge and confidence to address issues independently.

Robin Sheehy further emphasises the efficiency and educational value of HINDSITE, noting, "They [customers] are able to go through a step-by-step process that will either solve the problem if it's something that can be solved by themselves or will send them to the service team - but at a known point in the diagnostic process." This approach facilitates a faster resolution and enriches the customer's understanding of the system, promoting a sense of ownership and engagement with the technology.

The added implementation of QR codes on equipment cabinets also simplifies the process of identifying the correct workflow, ensuring that operators are always guided accurately and efficiently. "There's no issues about using the wrong workflow or if a new person on site isn't sure which instrument this is, they can easily find out that information just from the QR code," Smeltzer explains.

The impact of Guided Work Instructions

Guided Work Instructions represent a paradigm shift from traditional manuals. With HINDSITE, customers receive step-by-step, interactive guidance to diagnose and resolve issues.

"Guided Work Instructions are a massive difference to manuals," Smeltzer notes, emphasising the digital media, real-time feedback, and reporting capabilities that enhance the troubleshooting process. This approach ensures consistency and quality in troubleshooting, regardless of the operator's experience level.

In addition, Sheehy explicitly outlines the biggest impact of HINDSITE, stating, "For us, the biggest impact is freeing up the time of our service team to be dealing with those things that are more complicated and more challenging". 

Scaling into new markets with empowered customers

HINDSITE's self-guidance capabilities are core to RTI's global expansion plans. It will provide a direct touchpoint for customers and facilitatethe onboarding and training of local staff without the need for extensive travel or face-to-face interaction. Smeltzer reinforces this point: "HINDSITE is going to be a massive help with that [expansion] assisting more customers with getting a greater understanding of our products."

Future applications

Feedback from customers has been overwhelmingly positive, with many expressing appreciation for the autonomy and depth of knowledge HINDSITE provides. "Customers have been very keen to have just some sort of self-help tool," Smeltzer shares, highlighting the tool's effectiveness in enabling customers to resolve issues on their own, thereby reducing downtime and, by extension, increasing profitability.

The team at RTI look forward to implementing HINDSITE into production processes next. The platform will be used to standardise task execution across global production lines where it makes fiscal sense to do so in-country rather than in Mackay. Beyond production, HINDSITE will be also used to bring new team members up to speed in the field and in manufacturing.

Conclusion: A new era for mining and METS

The RTI application of HINDSITE demonstrates not just the practical application of Guided Work Instructions but the overarching philosophy of RTI: to empower customers through technology. By providing tools that facilitate real-time, on-site problem solving, RTI not only enhances operational efficiency but also fosters a deeper connection between the users and the technology they rely on. In doing so, RTI sets a new standard for customer support and satisfaction in the mining and METS industry.

As the mining and METS industry continues to evolve, RTI's approach demonstrates that empowerment through technology is the key to overcoming today's challenges and seizing tomorrow's opportunities.

To learn more about how HINDSITE can provide your frontline with guidance as they need it, get in touch with us.

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