International mining houses, with assets across multiple geographies and commodities, need EHS software that can accommodate the broad and diverse requirements of the organization, software that is by definition enterprise-class.
What then constitutes enterprise-class EHS software? Beyond the obvious need for stability and performance with large user and transaction volumes, there are six other criteria that need to be closely analysed when selecting a preferred product.
1. Configurability at site/region level
Global mining houses will be faced with region-specific requirements, as well as requirements based on what commodity is being mined, and how it is being mined: open cast or underground, or marine.
Enterprise-class EHS software needs to be able to apply business rules that hide or show fields, tabs, reports and process flows based on asset and site-level requirements. This cannot be at the expense of standardization and meaningful corporate reporting, however, and these region-, asset- or site-specific enhancements need to be built around a common core, fields and processes that all assets complete and adhere to.
2. Integrated risk management
The very point of an enterprise system is to facilitate proper understanding and control of risk across multiple disciplines. The inter-related nature of risk, described so clearly in this blog by Michael Rasmussen, requires a federated approach to managing risk, one that is “integrated and collaborative”. Any EHS system that is implemented cannot be a group of separate modules loosely cobbled together; what is required is a system that has been designed from the first with interconnectedness in mind and that can provide insights into the associations across different risk disciplines.
These links are also important for the potential success of predictive analytics. And there is also the flip side of risk, which is the uncovering of opportunity. An integrated view of risks usually exposes areas of potential opportunity, as the business is able to analyse the potential consequences across silos.
Users will use a system better and enter more accurate information if they are able to do so in their home language. Modern tools such as Google Translate or Azure’s Translator allow for real-time (and ever-improving) translation of text into other languages, allowing users’ descriptions of events etc to be automatically translated into the company’s principal language.
4. Ease of integration
The evolution of EHS software has been from disparate point solutions to integrated platforms. The evolution will extend into a broader eco-system in which EHS platforms pass and receive data to and from other systems (HR, ERP and other operational systems), IoT devices, data lakes, wearables etc. Enterprise-class EHS systems need APIs and connectors that facilitate this flow of data, creating a broad, data-centric ecosystem.
5. Data analytics
The ability to understand data visually is a given. But true enterprise EHS software should provide the ability to present associations across data, data coming from within the EHS system as well as from other systems. Overlaying training attendance with near misses, for example, can highlight potential leading indicators. Integrating with spatial platforms also provides the ability to present data more powerfully: at different shafts and levels what is the correlation between safety and productivity? Or what is the association between environmental impacts and social grievances?
To prevent harm it is crucial that critical control are closely monitored. Visualising leading indicators from a broad array of data better equips companies to respond to developing trends regarding the potential materialization of risk.
6. External users
The evolution towards a broader EHS ecosystem, and the externalisation of numerous activities, means that data needs to flow into the system readily from contractors, vendors and other suppliers. Supplier vetting, certification, induction and processing all have to be offered in a manner that is easy, streamlined and not dependent on complex training programmes.
EHS systems have evolved within mining companies over the past decade from isolated point solutions to critical programmes used to manage the company’s risk around its licence to operate. The ever-growing importance of EHS and ESG means it is imperative to put in place an enterprise-ready system that reduces risk and increases efficiency.
ESG factors influence investment decisions. They are integral to assessing the ability of an organisation to manage fundamental inherent risks while doing business. They provide evidence of how an organisation creates long term sustainable value and the impact it has on business, society, and the environment. Positive impacts will validate its license to operate.