If you own and operate a mine in the 21st century, you may be reluctant to change how you operate and conduct your business — especially when the change involves hazy concepts like “the cloud.” Your paper inventories and checklists have worked just fine for more than a century. Your computers and hard-drive aren’t broken. So why overhaul your systems?
While paper forms and hard-drives do serve a purpose, using them exclusively eats into your time and, ultimately, your mine’s bottom line. Why? In many ways, advances in technology have given rise to far better, more efficient systems that leaders in your industry are most definitely using. To keep pace and stay competitive, you’re going to have to make the transition. A good place to start is with the cloud.
What, exactly, is the cloud? If you use programs like Dropbox, Gmail, or Basecamp, you already use it. To explain further, let’s consider something we’re all familiar with: the file cabinet. In all likelihood, you keep your papers in file cabinets. Those file cabinets take up space in your office, or likely a basement or storage unit, depending on how far back your records go.
The cloud, on the other hand, is like a digital filing system. It stores and organizes your documents. Instead of taking up physical space in your office, your information is stored on highly secure remote servers with “advanced redundancy,” which means the information is backed up on more than one server.
But the cloud isn’t just for storing documents. It’s also for accessing and working on your data programs, forms, and other documents via the Internet rather than your company’s storage drive — which comes with real advantages. What, precisely, are those advantages? Here are the top six ways the cloud can help your mining business.
Increases your mine operation’s efficiency
As a mine operator in today’s fast-paced, competitive marketplace, you know the pressure is on to make every minute count. Cloud computing can boost your efficiency in a number of ways. For one, it automates some of your workload, so you’re not paying staff to manually rekey information from a paper form into a computer. When you’re up and running on the cloud, you can gather and enter information simultaneously, so there’s no need to duplicate your efforts. This is particularly true if your miners use mobile devices and apps to record information, versus the old paper forms.
Enhances communication between miners and operators
Staying in close contact with miners and other employees is a key part of operating a mine. If you own and operate mines in various locations, as many mine operators do, your job is all the more difficult. The cloud can help you streamline your processes and make it easier for your employees to work together and stay on the same page. Instead of having to communicate the same messages time and again, you can direct team members to certain documents saved in the cloud.
Helps your mine keep up with MSHA regulations
Staying on top of safety regulations can feel like a full-time job, especially if you own and operate a small-to-mid-size mine and don’t have a safety specialist on your team. As safety regulations continue to evolve, you can use the cloud to track compliance issues and prepare for audits by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), or another governing body, if you operate a mine outside of the United States.
In 2010, MSHA itself launched a series of cloud-based tools as part of its “Rules to Live By” initiative, which enables coal, metal, and non-metal mine operators to track violations and see how they compare (in real-time) with mines nationwide. Without the cloud, this kind of real-time tracking and information sharing couldn’t happen.
The documents you save in the cloud are password-protected and triple encrypted. So not just anyone can access your data and information — only the people to whom you give admin rights. You can make certain folders and sections off-limits, if you want, while granting full access to a select few.
While some people question the security of saving sensitive documents in the cloud, the reality is that it’s safer and more secure than traditional methods. What happens, for instance, in the event of a fire or flood, and your records exist only on your hard-drive or in a file cabinet? There’s not much you can do to recover them. In the cloud, on the other hand, you can rest assured that your files are safe. Even if your computer crashes, you’ll be able to access all of your information.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of switching to the cloud is the potential cost-savings, which small-to-mid-size mine operators so desperately need in today’s tough economy. “With cloud services, small businesses reap the benefits of not having to deploy infrastructure like file and email servers, storage systems, or shrink-wrapped software,” explains Samara Lynn in an article for PC Magazine.
Paying for software, servers, IT support, and even things like photocopiers and fax machines (not to mention the reams of paper they require) can make a real dent in your bottom line. On top of that, most software needs to be upgraded periodically, and servers can be costly to manage and troubleshoot in the event of a problem. Many small-to-mid-size businesses see significant savings when they transition to the cloud.
At GoCanvas, we understand that your time is valuable, and that you need to do everything you can to streamline your business. Increase your efficiency and gain an edge in your marketplace — learn how our service makes it simple to convert paper forms into mobile apps. We even have an entire section of our Application Store dedicated to the Mining, Quarrying, Oil, Gas, & Chemicals industries.