By: Jane Ball Issue: Resource Management Section: Business
Innovative Technology Solutions for Mining and Engineering
Maptek is a leading provider of software and solutions for the mining and engineering sectors. Listening to customers and responding to their needs underpins Maptek’s development philosophy. Maptek products have emerged as the benchmark in the industry. Products include Vulcan software for 3D geological modeling and mine planning and I-Site hardware and software for 3D laser scanning and imaging. They are in use at most major operations. The company provides technical and professional support to customers at the local and regional level, while drawing on a pool of global specialists for complex projects.
Maptek was established in 1981 by Dr. Bob Johnson, a geologist in Sydney, Australia. Today, Maptek employs more than 300 people in a network of 14 offices across Australia, Europe, South Africa, Asia, North and South America. Headquartered in Adelaide, South Australia, Maptek maintains a global structure with regional sales and support. A vigorous expansion policy began in 1986, in order to deliver local services to customers. In the first 20 years, offices opened in the USA (1986), the UK (1989), South Africa (1992), Chile (1994), Brazil (1997) interlaced with the Australian network in Sydney (1981), Perth (1989), Adelaide (1990), Brisbane and Newcastle (2001). Products are also represented in Mexico, New Zealand, India, Japan and Canada.
Maptek is fundamentally a software company. Vulcan 3D modelling and mine design software, a pioneer in the industry, has more than 6000 users worldwide. Vulcan accounts for about 30 percent of the global market for mine planning software. I-Site Studio software emerged onto the market in 2000 and has since revolutionized the modeling and analysis of 3D laser scan data. In 2004, Maptek entered the surveying equipment market with the I-Site integrated 3D laser scanning and digital imaging instrument. So successful was this move into laser surveying that Maptek has subsequently released a long range I-Site 8800 laser scanner and a medium range I-Site 8400 for routine topographic survey applications.
The Maptek Vision
The Maptek vision is to help companies realize the benefits of implementing new technology. As Barry Henderson, Maptek chief executive officer explains, “We see our role as creating innovations for our mining customers, helping them develop their resources in a safe and efficient manner.” Aiming to be the first choice of customers and to maintain a leading reputation, Maptek continues to develop applications that address issues facing customers. By understanding customer challenges, the company is able to deliver targeted products while building value into their deliverables. This has cemented Maptek as the leading provider of innovative technology solutions to the mining and engineering sectors.
Local support is important to customers. Maptek’s hallmark is providing quality training and responsive services. Each of the 12 offices operates as a sales and business support unit, backed by networked product and development units in Australia the USA, and Chile. Close contact with customers promotes a collaborative relationship. Every year, the company invests almost 20 percent of revenue back into research and development, allowing for continuous evolution of existing products and commercialization of new ideas.
Emerging Strongly From the GFC
“In 2009, the economic climate forced us to re-evaluate how we did business. We looked to achieve greater revenue diversification,” said Barry Henderson. “Our strategy proved successful and positioned us to emerge strongly from the global downturn.”
Aggressive goals are pursued for all regions, aiming for continued growth in traditional mining markets and developing a presence in new areas. In fact, the company is currently adding staff in Calgary, Canada to address the needs of the Oil Sands. The North American mining market has always been strong and continues to do a lot of business in this region. In South America, Vulcan design and scheduling tools are widely used by mine planning engineers. The emerging market in Brazil is expected to represent a large amount of business for the company in the future. In addition, Maptek will increase its focus on other countries in the North American region such as Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. A new office in Delhi is tapping into the huge market in India, which has a well-established industry mining commodities including iron ore, copper, nickel and coal. Sales and marketing of Maptek products into central Asia is also being ramped up in response to the strength of mining activity there. And a significant customer base in Mongolia is serviced by the Denver and Australian offices. The Australian mining industry leads the way in applying technology solutions to mining. Since mining represents a significant portion of Australia’s GDP, it is no surprise that this is Maptek’s biggest market.
Africa is another region where Maptek sees the opportunity to expand its operations. The team in Johannesburg has been strengthened to move beyond the current customer base with a renewed emphasis on services and training.
The company continues to partner with universities the world over, training students to use modern mining software systems and sharing technology insights. Students will then graduate with the skills that will equip them for working in the real world of geoscience. New Maptek scholarships were established in several regions in 2011, as one of the initiatives undertaken to commemorate 30 years in business.
A Bright Future
Technology is continually evolving and improving the mining industry; Maptek’s technology will be incorporated into ongoing development agendas. A customer’s need for integrated applications that share a single source of data across networks, sites, and operations will drive planning going forward.
Henderson comments, “There is certainly a positive uptake of technology in the mining industry. My attendance at APCOM, an international symposium on the Applications of Computers in Mining, held in Wollongong, Australia recently, reinforced our assurance that technology is the answer to increasing productivity and enhancing operational efficiencies. The challenge for us is to continue to innovate and deliver products that anticipate and more than meet their needs.”
The 2010 release of the Maptek I-Site 8800 laser scanner, followed by the I-Site 8400 system in 2011, highlights Maptek’s success in diversifying into quality hardware that matches its software products. The I-Site 8800 was developed in response to customer demand for a robust and reliable long range scanner integrated with powerful software. Concomitant enhancements to the I-Site Studio modelling and analysis software give surveyors even more tailored tools to deliver data and models for planning, design and feasibility studies.
Earlier this year, Maptek unveiled a customized truck to showcase the I-Site laser scanning system to U.S. mines. The team embarked on a five state roadshow in late March. Site personnel were able to see how the I-Site 8800 mounted on a vehicle with an integrated laptop running I-Site software could obtain near-instantaneous data and how results are processed while scanning continues. “It’s a very powerful demonstration of the benefits of the technology when mine staff can see the surveyed results, and fly-throughs of their data, virtually in real time. The venture has been a huge success, with inquiries and follow-up work still underway,” added Henderson.
The rapid uptake of the I-Site 8800 laser scanner and the proliferation of sites with multiple scanners for different purposes pointed Maptek toward another market. The recently released I-Site 8400, an entry-level scanner, will appeal to specific sectors of the survey market and is aimed squarely at quick turnaround for topographic, pit and stockpile survey tasks. Onboard controls, extendable memory, and removable scan storage are just some features of the new survey instrument.
Maptek is continuing to develop Vulcan software to streamline the processes that geologists and mining engineers use every day. Ongoing redesign of Vulcan modules will introduce new mine planning and scheduling functionality and strengthen existing tools. Vulcan will run more efficiently on 64-bit systems which will allow the development of a platform for mobile applications and tablets. Seamless data import/export will make Vulcan multi-compatible.
New software solutions are being developed as a result of direct collaboration with customers. BlastLogic is a comprehensive system for collating and analysing drill and blast data and performance. Input from a large Australian mining company will ensure BlastLogic meets the requirements of modern operations. An exciting new product, Eureka, is expected to set best practice standards for exploration work, another market which the company hopes to explore further. These products are set for release in early 2012.
All solutions, even those addressing specific requirements from individual companies, are developed with the global customer base in mind. The world’s expanding needs will drive operations to become more efficient at finding and developing resources. Maptek intends to work alongside the mining industry to provide solutions to the complexities they will face going forward.
Learn more about Maptek at www.maptek.com, or contact them at email@example.com.