Kaizen philosophy, also known as the continuous improvement cycle, is the ideal approach to sustainability in the mining industry

normet

Kaizen philosophy, also known as the continuous improvement cycle, is the ideal approach to sustainability in the mining industry. Using this method, areas for improvement are identified, new processes or equipment are planned and implemented, and these changes are continuously reviewed to identify further opportunities for betterment.

For Normet, innovation begins at identifying where waste can be reduced, whether this is by minimising water waste, optimising shotcrete application, or reducing energy consumption. Unlike many of its competitors, Normet does more than just provide sustainable machinery; it partners with its customers to help them continuously improve sustainability credentials.

“It’s not a ‘sell and forget’ scenario for us. What we’re really selling is a result, and the machine is only one part of that,” explains Mark Ryan, vice president of equipment offering and new technology at Normet. “One of the clear differentiators when it comes to Normet is not only having the technology, but also having the people to help our customers get the absolute best from that technology and to be able to achieve their safety, sustainability and productivity targets.”

Normet’s field and audit services are part of this continuous improvement initiative to reduce waste and improve safety. Ryan adds: “We do audits on the equipment to ensure that it’s safe and compliant with regulations, but also from a sustainability viewpoint, we do a fair amount of process audits for our customers.

“We’re able to go in there, analyse what they’re doing, help them improve their processes, reduce waste, introduce tools and technologies, and help them with the management of these changes. We’re also helping them to implement a continuous improvement process with the data that we provide through our IoT systems.

“For example, we’ll look at their sprayed concrete approach and work out how we can improve the process, such as altering the concrete mix, changing the ways of working, or revising underground logistics.”

One way that Normet can help its customers to update their sprayed concrete methods is by implementing its SmartScan solution. This technology provides automated calculations and monitoring of applied sprayed concrete thickness to improve efficiency and reduce wastage, as well as allowing operators to remotely scan areas where repairs and concrete application may be needed.

Another smart solution that Normet provides is SmartDrive, which is used with its fleet of battery electric vehicles (BEV). The benefits of BEVs extends far beyond the typical advantages of using electrified vehicles, such as not requiring the transport and usage of fuel. By eliminating harmful exhaust fumes from diesel vehicles, the air quality underground is significantly improved, which in turn drastically reduces the required infrastructure for ventilation systems and the associated energy consumption.

Normet also works with its mining customers to prevent contamination or impact on the local environment. By utilising its Charmec systems, Normet creates a cleaner reaction during explosive charging to reduce the amount of gas produced. Not only is this an important step in preventing environmental pollution as a result of mining, it is also a major part of meeting sustainability targets that allow operations to continue. Similarly, its range of eco materials used for ground conditioning and cleaning tunnelling equipment minimises environmental impact.

Normet helps its customers to meet sustainably targets before, during, and after implementing these solutions. One way that it ensures that its products are used optimally and safely is through training programmes.

“Training is one of the core things that we pride ourselves on,” Ryan explains. “You can have the most brilliant machine that’s ever been conceived, but if people don’t know how to use or get the benefit from it, it’s pretty much a doorstop.

“We really pride ourselves in being a master of the processes that we provide our customers. So, masters of sprayed concrete, explosive charging, scaling and logistics, as well service and global benchmarks.

“We are one of very few companies that provides this equipment that also provides cost-per-hour service contracts. It all comes back to making sure the customer gets the maximum value of the product that they have bought from us, and training is really key to making sure the customer is able to maximise the productivity and safety of the machine.”

Normet’s training programmes are state-of-the art, utilising simulators that allows workers to be trained without putting them in danger or risking damage or waste of expensive equipment.