"The use of Augmented Reality (AR) in mining will disrupt and revolutionize the industry and is set to change the future of mine safety."
What is the role of GEOCOM in the Chilean mining industry?
GEOCOM is the leading provider of geospatial equipment and software used in measurements for mining in Chile for the last 35 years, representing and distributing for world-class suppliers, such as Trimble from the USA, Riegl from Austria, Geoslam from the UK, senseFly from Switzerland, DJI from China, amongst others. Our goal has been the provision of the best and latest technology available on the market. In 1990, we introduced GPS technology in mining and, in 2000, we installed GNSS reference stations on sites. A decade later, we started providing laser scanners, creating point clouds for precise measurements. We work with large-scale mining companies as well as juniors, as our drones offering is relevant across the industry.
How did the demand trends for geospatial equipment in the mining industry evolve?
Mining represents 50% of our sales, and we have a market share of approximately 43% in geospatial equipment in Chile. Today's industry is demanding remote control and automated equipment in all its processes to minimize the physical presence of workers on-site and optimize the operation. Mining companies look to operate equipment from control rooms in Santiago. We worked with some mining companies to help navigate and operate drills remotely.
As a result of the pandemic, we altered our business model to rely on less physical interaction. Therefore, today we offer training to our clients’ staff online as opposed to going on-site, which saves time and costs. I believe this model will continue even after the pandemic.
Can you elaborate on the NASAP technology GEOCOM offers and how it enhances efficiency?
Several mines in Chile are located in the Andes at high altitudes, where snow in winter impacts operations. This was our first comprehensive development for mining to navigate machines to help in removing the snow from the roads more safely. This is our HUSKY product. With this knowledge we developed new products such as NASAP, which uses HP-GNSS technology and other sensors and comms. This technology is used in drills to navigate and guide them precisely to each borehole and gather critical information for drilling and blasting operations.
How did GEOCOM evolve into a solutions provider as opposed to a service provider?
We ensure the establishment of strong communication channels between our clients and us. We are fully dedicated to providing as much support as we can. GEOCOM employs 84 individuals, of whom 30 are engineers. Our sales and support teams consist of skilled engineers who can ensure the clients’ needs are met by finding the best solutions. The aftersales process is crucial to our operations.
Is there a market gap you identified that you are conducting R&D for at the moment?
GEOCOM has a department dedicated to R&D to develop equipment with the latest technology. We are focused on supplying technology that processes measurements in the shortest timeframe, which is a market gap we saw in mining. Mining companies need technology that saves time in processing and analyzing measurements, that usually take over one or two days, so we are looking at more products that allow real time processing.
Another area of research we are focusing on is augmented reality (AR) technology in mining. This technology can be a game changer in the industry, since it can be applied in different areas, such as drilling, critical inspection, site operator training, maintenance and repair, as well as real-time operator assistance. It will enable remote distance support and provide management with a real-time visual guide to operations. The use of AR in mining will disrupt and revolutionize the industry and is set to change the future of mine safety.
Where do you wish to see GEOCOM in the market by its 40th anniversary?
Our teams travel the world to source the best technology for the market. We have witnessed rapid and sustained growth of our business over the last 35 years. Our strategy will continue to be one that thrives on technology and ensuring a high level of support to our clients by leveraging the unique skills of our workforce, who worked on mining sites and are familiar with their needs.