Mobility in Mining: How Does Mobile Device Management Play a Role

  • March 21, 2022

Introduction

The mining industry runs on the extraction of minerals and ores from the Earth and converting them into useful forms that lead to economic benefits. Some of the common ores recovered from the process of mining include oil, metals, limestone, potash, clay, etc. Considering the rugged nature of this industry, mining sites are generally located far away from cities and civilizations. Also, as it demands heavy-duty operations, the mining industry employs workers in bulk. According to a report, the US alone has 615,062 people employed in the Mining industry as of 2022.

However, today every industrial sector is technologically sound and so is the mining industry. The concept of ‘Smart Mines’ is recently introduced to the world wherein mining companies are now adopting the right set of technologies to simplify their operations, reduce costs, enhance employee safety and improve productivity. According to another report, the global smart mining market size is expected to hit $23,465.8 million in 2027, from $9,265.7 million in 2019, growing at a CAGR of 16.3% from 2020 to 2027. 

Why Must the Mining Industry Be Technologically Forward?

Enterprise Mobility has influenced several industrial sectors to adopt workplace flexibility, powered by the use of mobile technology. The mining industry, however, has always been mobile in nature since its inception. Employees working at mines do not have traditional offices. They have a permanently remote and on-site work environment that presents several operational challenges and health hazards. People working from traditional office spaces enjoy the benefits of a secure workplace with high-tech amenities and quick communication. However, on-site workers such as employees at the mining sites who operate with heavy machinery in accident-prone areas do not get to leverage the connectivity and benefits of traditional office culture.

Smart Mines are a form of enterprise mobility that has introduced the use of mobile devices in the mining industry to achieve operational excellence. Because the mining industry relies heavily on remote operations and they have a large workforce operating from hazardous sites, it is imperative for mining companies to stay connected with their on-site employees. Furthermore, all the communication that happens between the mining company authorities and the on-site miners is dependent on mobile devices.

Challenges in Deploying Mobile Devices at Mining Sites

The ultimate aim of deploying mobile devices at mining sites is to help mineworkers communicate better, perform operations with greater efficiency and also for companies to keep a better watch over their on-site workforce. However, it is not so easy to achieve this. There are several hurdles that mining companies experience in provisioning their on-site employees with mobile devices.

  1. Securing corporate data on employees’ devices

Mobile devices are the primary source of information exchange. Mineworkers operate from rugged remote locations and may not always have corporate data security as their topmost priority amidst operating heavy-duty machinery. Mobile devices being of a portable and compact nature are prone to be lost easily. Device loss is equivalent to the data on it being compromised. Since every business values its confidential information the most, this poses a major information security risk to mining companies.

2. Device safety in remote and rugged environments

Mining companies not only have to consider their employees’ safety, but also the safety of the mobile devices that they are providing to their on-site employees for work. Mobile devices act as a means of keeping the on-site employees informed and engaged, relaying real-time data and much more. However, the devices need to be such that can withstand the rigorous on-site terrains. Commercial off-the-shelf digital devices are convenient to use, but at the same time, they are slick and brittle. Mining sites need special devices that are made to endure harsh work environments to ensure maximum usage and continuity.

3. Policy enforcement on bulk devices

All businesses have a set of corporate policies that the workforce is expected to follow. This set of guidelines helps organizations monitor and manage their diverse operations with ease. Deploying corporate policies is simpler when you have a stationary workforce that operates within limited office boundaries. However, for remote industries like the mining industry,  ensuring compliance with your corporate policies is a complicated process. Mineworkers are constantly on the move and work from remote mining sites. Deploying the company policies and ensuring compliance on every individual’s mobile device can be a tricky task.

4. Remote provisioning of devices

All corporate devices, BYO devices, rugged devices that the mineworkers use on-site have to be provisioned, not only with security policies but also with work-specific tools, content and documents. Businesses have to go out of their way to share business files, changes in plans, company updates and any other form of notice or documentation that is to be shared remotely with their on-site employees.

5. Device maintenance to upkeep performance

Mobile devices are the most convenient way to stay in touch with the on-site mineworkers and to share business resources with them over the air. However, mobile devices are also prone to errors and glitches. They also require routine updates and timely repairs. Mineworkers may not always be tech-savvy enough to resolve any major or minor device issues that they may encounter. The inability to understand the error and fix it quickly leads to loss of precious time, increased miscommunication and panic.

How Does Scalefusion MDM Help in Streamlining Mobility for the Mining Industry

Deploying mobile devices to your mine workers and on-site employees is just half the battle. Maintaining the devices in good condition, ensuring the security of the devices and the data on them, resolving device issues, etc. play a vital role in ensuring a streamlined mobility experience. Scalefusion is a unified platform that helps mining companies achieve simplified mobile device management in the following ways.

  1. Remotely share business resources

Scalefusion MDM helps mining companies provision their devices in bulk. No matter where your mining site is, no matter how further your employees are dispersed, your IT admins can remotely push business tools and resources of varied files and formats on your bulk devices within minutes.

You can manage the applications, their versions, updates and usage all from the Scalefusion dashboard. You can push public apps via Google PlayStore, Apple App Store, Windows Business Store, or you can push your in-house apps via the Scalefusion Enterprise Store depending on the OS type of your employees’ devices. Similarly, you can also push business files and folders containing sensitive corporate information over the air. With this, your on-site employees can skip the tedious management of paper-based files and documents and go digital.

2. Monitor Device Inventory in Real-time

Keeping a track of your remote device inventory is a crucial factor. Scalefusion MDM offers you multiple ways to monitor your on-site devices. You can leverage real-time location tracking of your dispersed devices to keep a tab on the movement of your mining workforce. You can also set Geofences to monitor your inventory based on a specific geographical area and set compliance alerts in events of Geofences being overpassed.

Not only location monitoring, but you can also obtain detailed reports of your devices based on various crucial vitals such as data usage, battery consumption, inactivity status and much more. Furthermore, you can leverage a comprehensive overview of your entire device inventory based on layered bifurcations such as OS types, compliance violation data, inventory snapshots, etc. with Scalefusion DeepDive analytics. Mining companies can benefit tremendously from such in-depth device monitoring capabilities.

3. Maintain Devices in Perfect Health

Keeping mobile devices updated and in good condition, resolving device issues quickly to prevent extended system downtime are all factors that the mining industry struggles with. IT admins of mining companies can remotely reach out to their on-site employees via the Scalefusion dashboard to offer instant remote troubleshooting.

IT admins can also automate a few tasks to ease out the burden of remote management with Scalefusion Workflows and Remote Commands. You can create predefined workflows for a specific time and frequency to automate your redundant IT tasks such as publishing apps, device reboots, settings compliance alerts and much more. You can also configure remote commands on your Android devices to automate simple yet tedious IT tasks such as installing and deleting files, launching services, sending broadcasts, etc.

4. Secure Corporate Data on Employees’ Devices

Securing your corporate data is tough, especially in a world where cybercrimes are prevalent and remote working is becoming more popular than ever. Mining companies struggle to protect their business information, especially on their on-site employees’ devices. Since remote workplaces are a greater source of data loss, Scalefusion MDM Solution offers a plethora of security features that can be configured and pushed on your on-site employees’ devices effortlessly.

Be it network security settings such as configuring the firewall and VPN or data encryption with BitLocker and FileVault, device security measures such as configuring passcode policies, remote device lock and data wipe, browser security to allow or block selective websites, it can all be configured from Scalefusion’s unified dashboard.

5. Prevent Distraction in Employees

Simply pushing corporate policies on employees’ work devices is not enough. Businesses also need to ensure that their employees do not engage in any malpractices on their mobile devices. Mobile devices with internet services can be a great source of distractions. Mineworkers may feel drawn towards using mobile devices for their personal or entertainment purposes. Mining companies can ensure that their on-site workforce uses mobile devices only for corporate purposes during their working hours by setting restrictions on the usage of selective websites and applications.

Scalefusion MDM for Rugged Device Management

Mining companies generally opt for the deployment of rugged devices owing to the fragile nature of commercial digital devices and the harsh nature of the mining sites. According to a report by Technavio, the rugged devices market size is expected to grow by USD 1.67 billion and record a CAGR of 5.42% during 2020-2024. Keeping in mind the growing adoption of rugged devices by remote and on-field industries, Scalefusion offers comprehensive features for Rugged Device Management.

Mining companies can leverage all of the features related to application and content distribution, device and data security, remote troubleshooting, task automation, etc. offered by Scalefusion on their rugged device fleets. Be it your rugged smartphones and tablets, or specialized devices such as RFID scanners, wearable computers, vehicle-mounted devices, Scalefusion helps you streamline your Rugged Device Management effortlessly.

Closing Lines

The mining industry is volatile in nature and much of it depends on the unstable and hazardous surroundings. Mining companies can switch to Smart mining by implementing mobile technology and solutions like Scalefusion MDM that make mobility management a breeze.

Thousands of businesses rely upon Scalefusion for managing their mobile device, desktops, laptops and other endpoints

Shambhavi is a Senior Content Writer at Promobi Technologies with prior experience in commercial writing, creative planning, product cataloging, and content strategizing. She is a "Biotechnologist turned writer" and believes that the inception of great ideas happens over coffee.
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