2 August 2018 – There was a typically positive mood among attendees at the Queensland Mining and Engineering Exhibition in Mackay last week where some 200 exhibitors and more than 4,000 mining personnel, leading suppliers and renowned speakers came together to discuss innovation and progress in the sector.
However, despite record levels of infrastructure investment from governments along the east coast and improving market conditions in the mining sector, some in the industry remain apprehensive about the future.
There’s little doubt that this lingering uncertainty is a result of the ups and downs the sector has faced over the last six years – particularly in Queensland where work has come and gone in quick succession.
Even with a long pipeline of projects and work already set out, the broader challenges facing the sector remain with a shortage of labour, capital and equipment keeping growth for many on a tight leash.
For those on the ground at the event, the potential that technology offers the sector to unlock new opportunities and productivity gains was brought into sharp focus. Technology continues to enrich all parts of modern life both at home and in the workplace. Australia’s heavy industries are no different with advancements playing an increasing role in driving efficiencies, compliance and safety, and streamlining design.
A prime example is the increased use of 3D mapping and GPS technology by earthmoving companies in an effort to ensure compliance with site requirements and achieve cost management efficiencies. This is particularly evident across civil sites, including the large-scale Pacific Motorway upgrade.
What also caught many peoples’ attention was the potential of automated machinery and equipment enabling companies to reduce wastage and improve effectiveness – both helping the bottom line.
Offsite, the technology being utilised to deliver high quality, reliable products is astounding. Ultra Haul, part of the SMW group, are a Rockhampton based design and fabrication firm building fully customisable lightweight dump trays for haul trucks. The firm’s intense focus on research and development has enabled them to deliver considerable efficiencies and productivity gains at the mine site.
These are inspiring stories and examples of ingenuity that will help overcome the uncertainties some may have. They will also be sure to support the sector to rediscover its strength and continue building the Australia of tomorrow.