There's little argument that, after a number of boom years in many places around the globe, the resources industry has hit something of a slow patch.
Towards the end of 2015, Deloitte's Mining: Tracking the Trends 2016 report noted that falling commodity prices had placed miners in the position of needing to recalibrate, something many in the industry were struggling with.
Faced with dwindling profits, not to mention reduced levels of capital investment, miners need to turn their attention towards cost reductions and increased efficiencies in other parts of their organisation. That is easy to recognise but difficult for some to achieve, that's where the services of experts like Bluefield can come in, and in Europe, the company is spreading the word about the importance of smart asset management.
Savings are achievable for those who trust the experts
Having been in operation for just one year, the team at Bluefield in Europe has been hard at work in a difficult time for resource companies.
"The next step after establishing the European office is to share our work and make people aware of how we can get more out of mining assets in Europe," says Antti Nikula, Bluefield's general manager in Europe.
"Commodity prices are low, so it's a tough market, and justifying to customers that we can get more out of their assets isn't easy."
These are undoubtedly challenging times, however under the guidance of Antti, Bluefield has shown some terrific results for those willing to take its advice on board.
"We have already helped several organisations to improve their asset management. In the first year we've had a couple of really successful projects, with one in particular where we helped one strategic partner achieve a $1.5 million monthly cost saving, which is something I'm really proud of," says Antti.
Understanding the value of asset management
Making all manner of complicated systems run more effectively is an area close to Antti's heart, stemming from his background in the motorsport industry - another field where squeezing a limited budget can pay big dividends.
"The bottom line regarding good asset management is about products and cost per unit. It has to always be able to optimise the products and cost, and show organisations that the benefits of asset management lies in actually managing the equipment, not equipment managing organisations," he says.
"With low commodity prices it's really time for mines to streamline their operations, and make their assets do the job they were purchased for."
Helping mining organisations help themselves
Some of the resistance towards mining asset management may come from the idea that, when finances are tight, allocating a portion of operating budgets to an ongoing service agreement is just one more added expense. Breaking through that attitude and promoting the importance of the service is a challenge for Bluefield, but according to Antti, they may have the answer.
"We have new developed certification processes which are about to launch, which I'm really excited about. We can actually help and coach the owner-based maintenance organisations to achieve their own targets."
Working with mining companies, Bluefield is teaching a new generation of asset managers and maintenance engineers to take charge of their own equipment. Rather than tying themselves to a lengthy contract, the organisations themselves will learn the skills necessary to optimise their operations.
"We listen to what the customer wants to achieve with their assets, and evaluate what actual tasks are required to get those results. We will coach the organisation itself, and certify people once they are up to speed," says Antti.
"The goal is to have the full commitment of those projects inside the organisation, working with the customer to take control of their maintenance themselves and grow their capability."
With the future of the resources industry still on shaky ground, getting the most out of what you have can defer the need for further investment. With Bluefield asset management on board, companies can ride out the turbulent times with confidence.