City widely recognized as a global center for mobile application development
BHP Billiton Ltd, one of world's largest mining companies by market capitalization, has launched its new Mobile Applications Hub in Shanghai, in order to help its global operations enhance their productivity, increase efficiency and reduce costs.
Diane Jurgens, BHP Billiton chief technology officer, said the new hub is one example of the potential for technology innovation to improve the way the company works and benefit people and the company.
BHP Billiton's mobile apps hub in Shanghai will also support the company to work closely with its China partners, such as steelmakers, to improve visibility of the entire supply chain.
"About 70 percent of BHP Billiton's iron ore is exported to the Chinese market, so it is important to stay connected with Chinese clients, particularly the visibility of supply chain, from pit to railway, from ports to yard. Now we have technology team in China and we can stay better connected to our marketing team to meet clients' demands," said Jurgens.
One of the key issues for enterprises that want to move up the value chain is to attract talent to develop automation and innovation to improve proficiency, she said.
The company's $5 million apps hub will initially employ 50 technology applications designers. Shanghai is an ideal location for the hub as it is widely recognized as a global center for mobile apps development and has highly experienced, skilled workers and leading universities offering excellent programs in technology and engineering, she said.
Mobile apps in the field have helped the company reduce its costs.
A solution that allows files and data to be managed securely on a shared device in mines located in South America and Australia with 350 users sharing 85 devices and another 1,000 devices deployed to 5,000 workers will help BHP Billiton save $6.5 million.
Analysts said as prices of commodities such as iron ore and gasoline have been experiencing wild fluctuations in recent years, players in the resources sector have been making various efforts to reduce costs and improve productivity by using better technologies, a key move for companies to survive difficulties and grow.
"Many players have suspended investments to open new field. Instead, they seek to exploit potential by using better exploration technologies to increase productivities, or optimize the supply chain, manufacturing flows, or human resources deployment to reduce costs," said a research note from Guolian Securities Co Ltd.
BHP Billiton has not approved new investment in iron ore since 2011, while resources will be deployed more extensively in copper mining, according to the company's disclosure materials.
Jurgens said technologies will not only help reduce costs but also will significantly boost productivity, such as by using sensors to identify copper from waste in mines. Big data emerging from the process will help geoscientists better analyze information and improve exploration results.
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