Al Fajar Holding is a well-known drilling and blasting company with more than 600 employees and offices located in Oman and the UAE. With employees from different backgrounds, working in remote areas, they had concerns about fleet management. Software that enhances communication and increases productivity was seen as an answer to the problem.
At the same time, Epiroc was conducting a study, gathering customer requirements in order to develop a new service called My Epiroc, a solution intended to help customers increase their fleet efficiency that can be used anywhere – on the road, in an office or in a drill rig. Gathering all data at one place, it assists technicians and operators in managing their daily flows, reporting breakdowns, scheduling, and ordering spare parts. Epiroc developed My Epiroc in tandem with some key customers, and invited Al-Fajar to be a part of the pilot. Mining & Construction met up with Al Fajar’s Saša Jović and Epiroc’s Sergey Ivanov to find out more about the collaboration.
How did Al Fajar come on board for the development of My Epiroc?
Sergey Ivanov: We have a close relationship with the Al Fajar group, and believed we could jointly come up with solutions for tracking breakdowns. We approached them, and found them interested. Saša Jović: Yes, being able to develop the application with Epiroc and some other customers of theirs was a very exciting prospect. We felt that My Epiroc could help us deal with machine breakdowns and malfunctions. By tracking them, we can improve the analysis of our operators and machines.
“During the pilot, workshop managers, operators and other concerned positions started to use My Epiroc to detect any obstacles” Saša Jovic, General Manager at Technical Drilling & Blasting Co. LLC
What were the main challenges during the pilot, and how did you tackle them?
SJ: There is always the challenge of communicating operators’ needs to the developers. In our case, Epiroc is already knowledgeable about our machinery. Our role was to add the human angle, and so we helped to develop features that address tracking and reporting human behavior, and help to reduce paper work.
SI: One of the challenges has been the international pattern of Al Fajar; how to engage people from different cultures and languages to use an application that was initially created for English language. To come to terms with this, we are making the interface more user friendly and less dependent on English skills.
SJ: During the pilot, workshop managers, operators and other concerned positions started to use My Epiroc to detect any obstacles, and the platform was developed continuously.
For Al Fajar, what are the major benefits of My Epiroc?
SJ: The data helps us increase productivity because this is not just about reporting breakdowns but also about preventive maintenance. Using the application, real time data is at your fingertips, and gathering it in one place makes everyday work run a lot smoother. Safety will definitely be enhanced as the machines are better maintained and will also boost productivity. Also, proper analysis of breakdowns reveals what kind of spare parts are required, so that money won’t be wasted on unneeded parts.
SI: The application will enable operators in remote areas to report problems immediately, and get the support they need as soon as possible.
Is there a human resources aspect here as well?
SI: Yes, My Epiroc will definitely improve communication and reduce frustration because data is collected directly from the machines. As a result, workshop managers will get transparent information. For instance, if managers know that a delay has been caused by mechanical failure, there won’t be an issue with the operators.
SJ: The employees are at different levels of education and training; some are less skilled, and others are only at the beginning of their career. So, to bring them to the same level, you have to know what leads to mistakes. Until recently, information has been transferred via Whatsapp chat groups. They’re not a bad communication tool, but you cannot guarantee that messages are read by everyone. In contrast, My Epiroc is designed to set an alarm that both operators and managers have to commit to.
Is My Epiroc limited to fleet management and mining activities, or can it be extended to other fields?
SI: It can be adjusted for other industries. Also, My Epiroc has the ability to connect people across different countries, as long as there is GSM signal. And even when there is no signal, it stores data and sends it afterwards, when reconnected.
What lessons have been learned through this joint work, and where are you heading next?
SI: I would say that we’ve learned that open discussions among partners and mutual commitment are crucial ingredients for sustainable collaboration. As is transparency and the desire to develop and move forward. We have received valuable feedback from Al Fajar that we are currently working on. As mentioned, they need an interface that uses more icons and less wording in order to better suit non English speakers and also be an easier interface for less experienced employees. Our team in Sweden that develops My Epiroc has already started working on the design and logic for implementing this requirement for Al Fajar and other customers with similar needs. This responsiveness to customer needs, and what adds value, is what makes the team creating My Epiroc so successful. It’s an agile approach that adds both speed and accuracy to the entire creation process with minimal waste. There are also other requirements, such as modifying the application to be able to track rock drill tools, and we are striving to respond to all of Al Fajar’s requests.
SJ: If you want to stay competitive, you have to think outside the box and know that a partnership is a “give and take” relationship. Partners should trust each other and have open communication.
Epiroc operated under the trademark “Atlas Copco” prior to January 1, 2018.