Having sustained its supply chain through initial Covid-19 lockdowns, blasting and explosives specialist BME, a member of the Omnia Holdings Group, is looking ahead to continued growth in Australia and Asia.
Brad Bulow BME’s General Manager, Australia-Asia
“Our Australian and Indonesian mines continued to efficiently operate through the initial lockdown period where mine-based staff operated consistently, aligned to our corporate guidelines aimed at minimising Covid-19 infection risks. Additionally, our Brisbane and Jakarta offices applied a work-from-home policy and successfully supported customer requirements,” said Brad Bulow, BME’s general manager Australia-Asia.
Bulow noted that, “We have been able to maintain the supply of AXXIS detonators to our customers by utilising a combination of agile manufacturing planning, air and sea freight solutions along with leveraging inventories in strategic locations.’’
BME has recently commissioned a new emulsion plant in Indonesia in support of existing down-the-hole blast loading operations. Bulow said remote operations in both Indonesia and Australia, in line with Covid-19 safety protocols, are working well within the company and for customers. Where face to face contact is required, strict social distancing and hygiene practices are observed.
“We are forecasting strong growth for our AXXIS offering in Australia and Asia and have recently introduced two new customers to the product. Currently, our mining customers are producing good volumes, and their demand for our products remains high,” he said.
Future impacts of Covid-19 on the mining sector will include a growing demand for efficiencies at every level, according to BME managing director Joe Keenan. This will accelerate the leveraging of technological innovations and the effective implementation thereof. With employee safety of paramount importance, the emphasis on social distancing and how digital processes could be harnessed to reduce touchpoints in the workplace, is a focus that will be maintained.
What we can also expect in the future is a growing emphasis on more progressive and innovative ways of supporting customer needs, within the limitations presented.
“BME’s ongoing product development has positioned us well to contribute to these kinds of solutions,” he said. “The installation of our XPLOLOG system in our emulsion trucks, for instance, allows paperless handling of data between our customers and us.”
Joe Keenan Managing Director, BME
The company’s BLASTMAP software is ideal for remote working as it allows digital blast designs to be generated and shared between users located anywhere. With digital communication largely replacing the usual face to face interaction, Keenan emphasised that communication systems in mining would have to evolve further. The streamlining of the sales process – as well as the managing of contracts – would need to be digitized.
“Procurement processes must continue smoothly if services are to be delivered efficiently,” said Keenan. “This will also require that tenders be managed online and special arrangements made for site visits.”
A high level of automation enhances supply chain security in BME’s manufacturing operations. Initially installed to improve manufacturing quality, the company’s automation strategy has become very valuable in helping enhance the business’ ability to implement social distancing protocols across its employee base.The latest generation of BME’s AXXIS system – AXXIS TITANIUM – is expected to launch later this year. It will be the most advanced electronic blast initiation system on the market, according to Tinus Brits, BME’s global product manager for AXXIS.