In order to cope with this rising global demand mining companies are making improvements from mining operations to improve production, through the supply chain, and on to integration with global markets and sales. Integration through the use of APIs assists in automating the process while also providing benefits to safety and the environment, while also reducing costs through automated alerts and monitoring for exceptions.
So, let’s “unearth” some API use cases in the Metals and Mining industry. Once again I’ll use the structure I previously introduced (here
). Mobile (Internal) App Development
– Use of mobile devices is prevalent in Metals and Mining. In his blog “Mobility of everything – future of metal industry
”, Abhishek Kaul describes the benefits of the combination of mobile devices and IoT in the metal industry.
I’ll refer to some of his examples plus others to demonstrate use cases where APIs can assist:
- Basic APIs: View product catalog, quote prices, view commodity market prices
- Custom APIs: Shipment alerts, daily production reports, customer account information, Management approvals for employee actions, purchases, customer access for order status, invoice, payments. Sales can capture leads and opportunities. Field engineers can use mobile devices instead of computer terminals to directly record data (e.g. quality parameters, yield, record inspection data, trigger maintenance orders, etc.)
- Mobile advantages include using GPS coordinates, NFC, and the camera. Bar code readers can track shipments and manage warehouse operations. Positioning of employees can improve safety.
What APIs are available today in Metals and Mining? Here are just a few samples of existing public APIs:
- XigniteGlobalMetals - offers real time prices and quotes for metals including Gold, Silver, Palladium, Platinum and other base metals. In addition to real time precious metals prices, the service provides daily London Fixing prices, gold coin prices, and delayed NYMEX and COMEX Future precious metal prices as well as historical precious metal prices, charts and metal news.
- Integrated Earth Data Applications - provides geology data and mapping through a set of web services built on the MapService platform of the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC).
- EarthChem - provides a platform for data sharing and queries serving researchers in geology and related sciences.
- SpotPrices.Biz - provides price data for gold, silver and other metals, as well as currency rates. The SpotPrices.biz API provides developer access to price data.
- Geo3DModelService - is a program for generating cross-sectional models of subterranean conditions using geologic data.
I will admit that finding API examples in Metals and Mining was a bit more challenging than some other industries. When searching on “Metals” I found several APIs related to heavy metal music and “mining” searches result in Data Mining. So, a little more specificity is required to find the correct context.
Besides creating Mobile Apps for their customers, there are many other areas where APIs can provide value for Metals and Mining companies. Partnering
– A mining company’s supply chain covers several stages, extending from mines to ports and then onward to the purchaser of the product. Companies need to coordinate to efficiently work across the supply chain. APIs can integrate between the different businesses in the chain across mine operations, ore processing and blending, train transport to port complexes, unloading trains/loading ships, unloading ships at the destination and transferring the metals onward to the purchasing location. Each of these phases often implemented through partner relationships.
APIs can also be used across the supply chain to provide visibility to the status of the shipment. Public APIs
– Supply chain integration may be done through auctions and competitive bidding. Public APIs to allow for bidding to provide
materials or choose low cost shipment alternatives can use public APIs. Also, basic APIs for viewing the product catalog, quote prices, and viewing commodity market prices are good public API candidates. Social
– Employees can be trained using “serious gaming”. APIs to access demonstrated behaviors and results can identify strengths and weaknesses of candidates for job roles. These can also assist in identifying potential safety issues and possible error situations before they occur. Devices
– Devices used in metals and mining (furnace, mill, plates, coils) can be fitted with sensors to provide a seamless data flow to the
enterprise and equipment operator. APIs can be used to access this data and invoke processes to handle abnormal situations, create reports, etc. In other cases, APIs can be used to direct the devices to take appropriate actions, change settings, etc.
Devices can also track workers, assets and the environment to minimize risk exposure and improve response if failures occur. Data
– APIs can access data to mitigate the risks leading to health, safety, and environment issues and help avoid failures. Data access via APIs can also assist with compliance management and as a resource in the enterprise risk management model.
APIs accessing analytics can also be used with devices for preventive maintenance to reduce costs for heavy equipment.
Finally, understanding costs through the use of APIs to track personnel, equipment, and all other costs provides data allowing for accurate product costing which can be used to assist in market pricing.
APIs are helping Metals and Mining companies face and solve some of their most pressing and immediate challenges. APIs provide access to company resources, support partner integration, improve safety, help enhance supply chain planning, optimize operations and improve production.
Remember that to achieve success you should always put controls around the APIs so that you know who uses the APIs and how much and can map this to the results. With this visibility, you can use the analytics to determine which techniques are working and which are not.
Connect with me through comments here or via twitter @Arglick
to continue the discussion. You can also read my earlier blogs