Monday, June 23, 2014

MineQuest Perth 2014

The MineQuest Perth 2014 at the Esplanade Hotel in Fremantle was quite a successful one, with nearly 40 clients coming down to see the new improvements to the software, and hear a bit about some of our new family companies in the Hexagon group. The news of sale of Mintec to Hexagon some months ago now has been positively received by clients, especially as they know that the MineSight product and service will not be diminished by the move. MineQuest provided an opportunity for SafeMine and Jigsaw to show their product as well, both of which were very interesting to those in attendance. MineQuest is always a great time to catch up with clients, both new and existing. It is particularly good for allowing both clients and MineSight staff to put faces to names, as well as discuss ways to improve the process for both sides.

Thursday started with registration before Glenn Wylde gave an overview of how MineSight fits in with the Hexagon group, the newly developed Hexagon Mining and the companies and services making that up, and a quick overview of the new functionality coming in MineSight. The more detailed product development would come through the presentations relevant to that particular program. Mark Gabbitus then presented the Implicit Modeler tool and the improvements and functionality that have been added to the tool over the last year since its release. This is a very useful tool and one I made good use of a week ago while running training with Phonesack at their Kaleum coal project.
MineSight Atlas, Planner and the unfolding utilities made up the next three presentations. This was good as Atlas continues to be a flagship product, MSPlanner is a new tool for us and replaces the outgoing MSIP toolset. And Grant McEwen presented the unfolding utilities, comprising Relative Surface Interpolator and the Dynamic Unfolding tools. This was important for a few of our clients and allows MineSight to accurately calculate the true distances along a fold instead of just the vector distance. This brought us to lunch and another chance to catch up with the clients and discuss more than just work.

Verne Vice led the after lunch presentations by bringing out some tips and tricks to working with MineSight 3D. This is always helpful and people tend to learn something new, regardless of how small it is. Rohan Anchan then presented the new and improved Reserve utility. This works in that is combines the 4 different ways of reporting reserves in the past and brings it all together in a new and modern way. The ease of which this tool is set up and used was a surprise to one of the Boddington representatives who is looking forward to implementing its use on site.
After an afternoon break the final presentations for the first day were under way. Mark was back to talk about the Performance Manager. This tool allows users to track key metrics regarding the drill and blast process, dig rates and truck locations which allows the user to reconcile and hopefully improve the blasting and mining process to better improve productivity and profit. The last presentation of the day was Andrew Baxter showing the new Stope and underground design tools. When combined with MSAtlas this allows for MineSight to be a complete underground solution for the engineering department. A quick discussion with the attendees then commenced regarding future development. This included both where MineSight is heading as well as what the clients would like to see added and improved in the software. The good news arising here is the potential for the MineSight software to leverage some of the tools and abilities from the other softwares within the Hexagon group. Whether this be to give more functionality to our plotting tools, add in some GIS abilities or just better interact with the likes of Jigsaw and SafeMine, the potential for the software group and Hexagon Mining is huge.

Then it was time for some drinks and canap├ęs for those attending MineQuest. Again, this allowed for clients and MineSight staff to have a chat, whether it be the mining industry, software usage, needs and wants, or the world cup. The only solace to Australia being knocked out already is that so too are England. And the odd quality team like Spain, who really aren't that quality so far.

Day two brought out most of the same people, with a few clients not making it and a few others showing up who couldn't attend Thursdays sessions. While Thursday had been a single room for the feature presentations, Friday would have MineQuest split into two rooms, one predominantly for the engineers and the other more geologically related. I was lucky enough to spend my day in the geology room so I didn't have to interact with the engineers (ewww, icky people :p ).
The geology day started with Anurag Sharma running a workshop about the workflow of sub-blocking in MineSight. The only real query about sub-blocking was about how we treat the child blocks compared to other software providers. In this way we are unique in that we store our sub-block information to an SQL-light file which allows for greater flexibility and quicker response times within MS3D. After a break Andrew was back up and talking about using Implicit Modeler and Unfolding to create better grade models. This led to a lot of healthy discussion regarding our implicit modelling tool, surface generation and manipulation, and work flows. The conversation also somehow moved into a little bit of MSAxis and validating and archiving data for later auditing and recreation if required.

Then it was time for lunch again. Though on the way to lunch I stopped and helped Dallas from Crystal Sun Consulting and we had a bit of a chat through the ease of use with MSTorque and its ability to reproduce and exceed the abilities of the files 11 and 12. This would allow for better abilities when it came to compositing, but also for him to access the abilities of the unfolding tools and Implicit Modeler.
The first discussion after lunch was given by myself regarding using Value of Information to better define drill programs to use to improve the mine revenue. This would incorporate using conditional simulation and MSEP to create the values for the blocks and then produce an optimised pit around it. Due to available time, we then talked about MSAxis and using the Process Manager for not just grade control, but also resource work as well as an engineering case. Basically using the utility to create a process work flow that must be followed and validated in order for it to work. The primary reason for finding time to do this was in response to queries earlier in the day about the archiving of the process at different stages to make the data auditable and recoverable in the future. This was seen to be of great benefit to the clients in the room when we were discussing this. The last geology room workshop was by Grant who went through the MSTorque improvements over the past year. MSTorque is Grants baby in that he has presented something MSTorque related every year we’ve had the tool. This year the onus was on the compositing functionality that had been brought into and improved within the tool.

The last session of the day had everyone brought back together for the all-important prize giving and then Plotting for Productivity by Rohan. This went through the changes that have been made to plotting within MS3D that have made the process a lot easier for users to work with. The prizes were given for best idea to improve the software (the winning idea was done asked for by 4 different people, so the runner up idea got the prize, Matthew Cotterell from Snowden for a dump design tool where the dump design angle only went to one direction instead of all directions) and best question (Alex Hatch from Alcoa was the first to ask for the best idea, can we get an importer to import GIS software poly information easy). There were many other questions, requests and thoughts to come from MineQuest Perth 2014 and it was positive to see so many clients there and good to catch up with those who haven’t needed technical support for a while. Thanks to all the clients for attending, to our new partners in the Hexagon family for attending and sharing, and to the MineSight staff for presenting quality product and putting together a well detailed MineQuest.

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