Features, Tips & Advice

Eltirus committed to a drive for change


Surveying the landscape of the past year and what lies ahead for 2023, Eltirus Chief Executive Officer Steve Franklin expands on the technical innovations that are key to the Eltirus business.

How did Eltirus perform during 2022? Any highlights from the team?

We had a tremendous year, bringing on new clients and working with some of the most interesting construction materials businesses in the region. In 2022, we re-branded the business from Cement and Aggregate Consulting to Eltirus. It was our biggest year so far in terms of research and development activity. Bringing on new staff and systems has fundamentally added to our capabilities and how we help the industry. A primary highlight for us is the development of Enable, our site-wide data collection and analysis system, that we now have in daily use with a major quarry operator.

In your view, what factors are driving investments in the quarrying industry?

I think most operators are more focused on meeting the high demand from the various infrastructure projects in play rather than major investments.

Following from the above, have you noticed any trend changes in recent years?

There is an increasing (and necessary) focus on diversity, inclusion and mental health as primary areas for the industry to address. It is good to see that the mining industry has (in the main) embraced these challenges and is working diligently on making them a reality while now also focusing on decarbonisation. This may be a guide for our own industry in the foreseeable future.

What are some challenges facing the extractive industry over the next 3-5 years?

I attended the International Mining and Resource Conference in Sydney in November. A consistent message there was that the companies saw the decarbonisation of their own businesses (and the broader economy) as their primary objective and that technological innovation – such as autonomous electric technology – was key to achieving this. Central to this is the need to find the resources to drive this technical change, and there was much debate about whether companies should develop the technology and skills internally or rely on external partners, particularly given the skills shortages attendant to both approaches – problems that are going to be potentially even more difficult for the quarry industry to manage. By way of example, construction material businesses don’t generally have a technical services department with large numbers of geologists, mining engineers and the technical specialists with the skills and time to embrace and develop the processes and systems needed to make this change – if not, who will do it?

How is Eltirus placed to help quarries address these challenges?

Our realisation was that autonomous electric technology would not be workable in a quarry that didn’t have effective survey control, known geology, a well-defined operational plan and a means to collect the data produced by each of the systems and analysed in such a way as to provide the “levers” to better control operations. Technical innovation is at the core of our business, and we have a well-defined and proven decarbonisation strategy for construction material businesses that has been built in conjunction with key stakeholders in the software and technology areas and specifically with major players in the autonomous and electric haul truck space.

Which new technologies in the quarrying industry are you most excited about?

The primary area of interest for us now is autonomous electric haul trucks, and autonomous technology generally. We are heavily invested in this area through involvement with manufacturers and with the Global Mining Guidelines Group in the development of international guidelines for the use of small autonomous trucks. This technology is much closer than most people realise, and significantly more cost effective. We are starting to see the advent of Autonomy 2.0 – where the truck is “smart”, rather than relying on external processing to direct it. This will really change how we look at these types of technologies. We are planning to take an industry group to visit with one of the key players in the quarry autonomous truck field in early 2023 and have been delighted by the positive interest and take-up.

What are Eltirus’ key objectives for 2023?

Our primary goals are to help clients know what’s in the ground, to extract it sustainably and to ensure compliance with both internal and external stakeholder requirements. Our focus this year is twofold: First is getting the message out that major innovations such as autonomous electric haulage, advanced data analysis and resource optimisation strategies are here now (or will be, in the very near future) and that they pay significant dividends environmentally, socially, and economically. The second goal is ensuring that we are the partner of choice for companies adopting these technologies to ensure that they have the planning, systems and support necessary to make innovation a reality and to be a collaborative partner they can trust.

Any final words?

The industry is ripe for innovation through digitalisation and autonomous operation – to name but a few key initiatives. The companies that are wholeheartedly adopting these exciting new technologies and making them their own are gaining a substantial advantage over their peers. We are very honoured to be a fundamental part of these transitions.

For more information, visit: www.eltirus.com

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