Samtech adds to deep Datamine tool chest

‘We’ve been building a complete ecosystem of technology that’s end-to-end’

Global mining software leader Datamine’s assembly of the industry’s broadest end-to-end product suite has taken a new turn with parent Vela’s acquisition of Samtech, adding telematics hardware and expanded fleet management capability to Datamine’s impressive tech stack and roadmap. It seemed like a good time for a call with CEO Dylan Webb.

Datamine’s iconic brand and products are woven into more than four decades of mining’s digitalisation journey.

They are embedded at over 4000 mine sites in at least 100 countries.

Webb says Datamine’s 2015 acquisition, via Vela, by Toronto-listed Constellation Software was a “pivotal moment” in the company’s long history. It marked circa-US$54 billion Constellation’s entry into mining at what would be seen as a crucial juncture, with the industry’s digitalisation progress since accelerating.

As well as the stability of an owner which takes a very long-term view of its position in markets, Constellation brought a depth of software proficiency that “supercharged our R&D capacity and capability”.

And magnified Datamine/Vela’s ability to compete for deals in what would become a hot mining-tech M&A field.

A succession of strategic deals later and the cluster of firms, offices, products and people under the Datamine umbrella has given the group an international profile that makes it a standout in its peer group.

South America is a major market and has been a happy M&A hunting ground for the group.

Webb is excited about what Santiago-based Samtech adds.

“Datamine has been experiencing increasing demand in two main areas, [being] real-time operations management and sustainability,” he told

“Transparency, control and optimisation of the full value chain through integrated technology has become a priority for many of our customers.

“Our sustainability software business has doubled in size in each of the last two years.

“Greater executive focus on health, safety, environment and stakeholder management has driven demand for professionally designed and supported solutions to replace ad-hoc spreadsheets, inhouse systems and even paper-based systems that were the norm on mine sites in the past.

“We already have good coverage of the value chain and material movements with Ore Contoller, MineMarket and Sodep.

“The combination of Sodep, PeopleTray and Samtech gives us improved coverage of equipment and people.

“You might not expect this but an interesting intersection is between PeopleTray and Samtech.

“In fact Samtech also has an accommodation solution because a customer asked them to develop one, due to the challenges ensuring logistics around operators available on site matched up to the assignments to equipment.

Dylan Webb

“If you’re working on remote sites you have this challenge of matching up your workforce to your equipment and the availability of the right skilled people with the current fleet that you have active, taking into account short-term challenges around maintenance problems and that sort of thing.

“So the idea of being able to seamlessly manage your flights, your accommodation, the people side of the business, with what’s going on with the mobile fleet, has appeal.

“From an environmental perspective you’ll want to know about the locations, fuel burn, emissions, etc, from all your equipment and have an easy way to collect and report the data.

“You can use sensor-based systems to provide more sophisticated real-time feedback for preventative action. For example, a driver has exceeded the speed limit by more than 15km an hour on three occasions over two days. You can receive an alert based on your tolerances and make an intervention before they cause an accident.

“Sensors and the associated software platforms also provide an auditable link back to source for the many governance reports now out there.”

Webb says Samtech’s innovative sensor technologies and ability to monitor very large fleets – up to 3000 units for one customer – impressed Vela and Datamine management, who see mining use cases and adoption of sensors in operations continuing to accelerate.

“The complementary fit between our existing dispatch and asset management technology with the Samtech offering is exciting and we look forward to providing a comprehensive, OEM-independent solution to our customers in Latin America and around the world,” says Webb.

“Samtech has a design and manufacturing capability which now allows Datamine to retrofit COTS and custom sensors to gather specific types of data.

“An example is the rotation speed sensors that Samtech fits to cement mixers.

“This allows continuous monitoring of rotation speed, which impacts the quality of concrete.  Alerts are provided automatically for any batches that fall outside predefined tolerances.

“Samtech has a 24/7 control room that provides an optional service to customers to monitor and manage alerts on their behalf.

“Customers that don’t have the expertise or capacity to monitor their fleets can instead receive specific actionable alerts to the appropriate department contacts based on severity, type of issue and required action.”

Webb sees mobile mine fleet monitoring evolving as an ecosystem of sensors and software from multiple equipment OEMs and suppliers.

“No single platform or supplier will be able to meet the needs of all the departments and stakeholders managing large mixed fleets,” he says.

“Samtech provides an overarching monitoring platform that can be connected to the entire mobile fleet – and/or intermediate software – and provide real-time views and alerts across haulage, ancillary and light vehicle fleets.

“What we’re looking to do is provide that complete cross-section of functionality to run an entire operation and enable all of these things to be linked together.

“We’ve been building a complete ecosystem of technology that’s end-to-end, but which is still flexible enough to accommodate other vendor solutions in any of those areas.

“We started working down this path about seven years ago.

“It’s a logical step for us to get involved in fleet management. It was a missing piece for us for probably the last few years that we saw as fairly important.

“It’s early days … We’re only in South America with these solutions at the moment. We need to spend some time to understand how we can take them out into other parts of the world and support them.”

On the shift from a pure software platform to a bolder software-hardware combination, Webb says Datamine was positioning to “go down that path at some point”.

“It’s fair to say we were a little bit hesitant to get involved in the complexities of managing hardware, with design and supporting it,” he says.

“We’re quite aware of the challenges and so you can say we’ve been treading with caution, getting involved in the space where it makes sense while maintaining a preference for off-the-shelf hardware whenever we can.

“Samtech, and Sodep for that matter, both take the same pragmatic approach to using off-the-shelf hardware that’s readily available and economical, but getting involved in design and manufacture of specialist components.

“They’re considered about the things that they build themselves and we’re pretty happy with that philosophy.

“An observation of the market over the last few years is that a lot of new tech firms are working with combined solutions of hardware and software.

“That makes sense if you are moving into this real-time world.

“There is an ever-increasing array of smart sensors available, with declining costs and more well-defined use cases proven in operations.

“This is driving increasing adoption of sensors in mining and providing significant opportunities to improve efficiency.

“As a software provider, Datamine is constantly looking at ways to interpret and analyse new data sources to improve an existing decision-making process or establish new workflows for previously unaddressed problems.”


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