How has Norda Stelo’s business model transformed in recent years?
AB: About six years ago we decided to change our business model, so our focus now is to create long term partnerships with our clients. In order to achieve this aim, we have three main objectives. First, we build confidence with our clients in order to facilitate long term partnerships. Second, we work to build our expertise to exceed our clients’ expectations, and third Norda Stelo is committed to have a local presence which helps us better understand the reality of our clients. We are focusing on two markets. One is the infrastructure market, such as bridges, roads, ports and railways, and the other is the industrial market, which includes energy, mining and metals, and manufacturing. We have clients like Rio Tinto with whom we have developed long term partnerships, and our business model is to sign master service agreements with them, giving us the opportunity to participate in the development of their strategic projects year after year.
Can you elaborate on Norda Stelo’s involvement in mining projects throughout Québec?
SB: We mostly conduct engineering on existing sites and plants that are brownfield projects. A lot of our projects consist of equipment and asset retrofitting, integration of new equipment, modification of process and layout, environmental evaluations due to modifications, asset integrity evaluations, etc.
Norda Stelo is specialized in brownfield projects. What are the advantages resulting from this focus?
AB: Because of our specialization in brownfield projects, we have come to understand that by extending the life of existing equipment and entire facilities, we ultimately have an impact not only on the financial health of our clients, but on the environment, including climate change. With this approach, we developed an AI driven digital platform that gives predictability on the health of existing facilities and supports sound decision making and planning regarding asset management. Optimizing the lifecycle of industrial facilities and assets in general is more profitable for asset owners and makes them more environmentally and socially responsible towards their surrounding communities and the planet.
How is Norda Stelo implementing digital technologies into its services?
SB: The mining industry should adopt technologies that favour a high level of autonomy. Optimal analysis of equipment data by artificial intelligence allows generation of a large volume of relevant information for sustainable asset management.
Currently, most maintenance operations are based on the knowledge of experienced personnel without it being scanned or secured. By using analytical techniques to increase comprehension and scanning of asset data, the mine raises the level of monitoring and comprehension of its operational process.
This is why we have developed a platform that merges the data gathered during asset inspections, maintenance activities, real time operational data with human engineering knowledge which will lead to machine learning models to improve the precision of predictions of asset performance. Human knowledge and artificial intelligence team up!
We also add environmental parameters in relationship with asset performance. For example, you decrease the environmental amortisement of a site by intelligently increasing its perennity. Our models consider GGE and the risk of loss of containment during the life cycle of each asset. The most optimal balance between equipment performance and environmental impact can be achieved.
How are automation and robotics impacting the mining world?
SB: Norda Stelo has a deep knowledge and experience in advanced automation and robotics coming from decades of manufacturing expertise. We have transferred this knowledge to heavy industries like mining. We develop and integrate robots in mining sites where human safety is an issue.
AB: There is a significant advanced automation and AI component associated with robotics, and when we think about mining, we mostly think of tier one, but there are also tiers two and three which include the manufacturers and equipment suppliers who are also in need of accessible solutions. We support the Investissement Québec approach with what they call the Initiative for Production Innovation through all the manufacturing industry in the province of Québec, and we are acting with them to help implement digital transformation technologies for companies who act as stakeholders for the mining district.