Until recently Raffi Jabrayan managed digital and technology innovation projects for Dundee Precious Metals. He was intimately involved with operationalizing new technologies into Dundee's workflow. He has recently joined Exyn Technologies.
I caught up with him in advance of his appearance at Mines and Technology London.
In terms of innovation in mining technology where does the biggest opportunity lie and why?
The greatest opportunity in technology innovation is autonomy. Autonomy has not been fully defined, let alone implemented in most mining companies. A proper autonomous solution will minimise the hours spent underground as well as drive huge production and efficiency gains.
Can you tell us a little bit about what you will be speaking at Mines and Technology?
My address will be on “Autonomous Aerial Robots: From Science Fiction to Science Fact”. 18 months ago, we were approached by a company offering an aerial robot (drone) solution. In the last 18 months we have turned this pipe dream into a reality. We can now send in fully autonomous drones for cavity monitoring. As a result, our operations are much safer and more efficient.
What is the biggest bottom-line benefit that innovating in technology has bought to your company?
We have greatly increased production without putting in huge sums of money. Pervasive WIFI coverage was the first step in this journey. For technology, you don’t have to invest huge amounts of capital to see significant increases in production, coupled with a much safer working environment.
What are the cultural challenges of introducing technological change in a mining company? How do you win ‘hearts and minds?’
Whilst we have older employees who have been with us for a number of years, they are not averse to change, providing the rationale is communicated effectively with them. By effective communication I mean engaging with front line employees as well as C-Suite staff, explaining what everyone’s role will be and getting everyone’s buy-in. Technological change isn’t about people losing their jobs; it is about retraining staff and ensuring that their skill sets stay relevant.
What are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?
I’d choose two. The first is ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen Covey. I read this book at the start of my career. It helped me in my thinking in the roles that I undertook.
The second book is “Start with Why?” by Simon Sinek. This is especially relevant for technology change. Whenever you are looking to change what people have been doing for 40 years, you must start with ‘Why?’
What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?
Be ready to shake things up. The mining industry is ripe for change. I see a lot of young talented mining professionals take on C-suite roles. I’d encourage young mining professionals to not be afraid and to think out of the box. They shouldn’t keep their heads down and fly under the radar. Don’t be afraid to stand out and voice your own opinion.
Raffi Jabrayan will be speaking at the upcoming Mines and Technology London, taking place at the Business Design Centre, 25-27 November.