Mining and Engineering Solutions - 04/11/2010


Jane Ball, Maptek, Australia

Maptek is a provider of software and solutions for the mining and engineering sectors. Listening to customers and responding to their needs is the philosophy, and founded on this products have been developed including Vulcan software for 3D geological modelling and mine planning, I-Site hardware and software for 3D laser scanning and imaging, and MineSuite fleet personnel and production information systems.

Established in Sydney, Australia by Bob Johnson in 1981 and now headquartered in Adelaide, South Australia, Maptek maintains a global sales and support structure based in the regions. A policy of vigorous expansion in 1986 led to an international network that expanded over the first twenty years and now includes more than 260 employees in twelve offices in Australia, Europe, South Africa, North and South America.

A background in software allowed the company to move into building survey instruments. Vulcan 3D modelling and mine-design software now has more than 5,000 users worldwide. I-Site Studio software emerged onto the market in 2000 for modelling and analysis of 3D laser-scan data; and in 2001Maptek introduced the MineSuite system for mine information reporting and fleet management. In 2004 the company entered the survey equipment market with the Australian-built, I-Site integrated 3D laser surveying and digital imaging instrument. So successful was this move into laser surveying that the next-generation I-Site 8800 laser scanner has just been released.

Listen and Learn
The Maptek vision is to help companies realise the benefits of implementing new technology, allowing its mining customers safely and efficiently to develop their resources. Understanding the challenges facing customers means delivery of products and services of quality and value, and an ongoing commitment to research and development that has cemented the company's position in the market. Each office offering local support and sales operates as a unit backed by product and development units in Adelaide and Sydney, Australia; Denver, USA; and Viña del Mar, Chile.

Home and Abroad
Maptek is thus a global company with local presence. In 2009 the economic climate forced it to re-evaluate business strategy, and a new goal emerged: to achieve greater revenue diversification. Significant growth is expected from both I-Site and MineSuite sales and services. A proposed Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory has presented an exciting opportunity for scanning the myriad of tunnels in the former Homestake lead mine in South Dakota (USA), and the project to install MineSuite at Newmont underground gold operations in Nevada was a major sale. Maptek continues to target the US and Canada, including growth in established, traditional mining markets, as well as new markets like oil sands. The wish to better serve oil-sands customers has resulted in a decision to establish a new office in Edmonton, Canada by late 2010.

The company also plans to increase its focus on other countries in the North American region, such as Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Expansion in the Indian subcontinent is well underway, with a new local office by the end of 2010. This is a huge market with a well established and large mining market; commodities from iron ore to copper and nickel and coal are all mined extensively. Sales and marketing of Maptek products in central Asia is also being ramped up in response to the strength of mining activity there.

Africa is another region offering opportunities. The southern and western portions of this continent are experiencing enormous growth in the mining sector, and will provide solution providers abundant chances to expand operations. The team in Johannesburg has been strengthened with the aim of increasing reach beyond the current customer base. A renewed emphasis on professional consulting services and training has been well-received since implementation in 2010.

Maptek continues to partner universities the world over, training students to use modern mining software and systems and sharing technological insight. This will help ensure that students graduate with skills equipping them for work in the real world of geoscience.

Staying Ahead
The mining world is continually evolving as technology progresses. Maptek aims to remain at the forefront by partnering customers to apply skills to needs for integrated applications that share a single source of data across networks, sites and operations. The sense in the company is that there has certainly been more positive uptake of technology in the mining industry. It seems most companies now approach this with the idea that they are adopting technology to increase productivity and enhance efficiencies. The challenge is to continue to innovate and deliver technology.

The recent release of the Maptek I-Site 8800 laser scanner signifies an area of Maptek future focus. Developed in response to the demand for a scanner that is both robust and reliable and provides increased efficiency, productivity and versatility without compromising quality, the I-Site 8800 is set to raise the bar for survey instruments. The new long-range instrument has brought about enhancements to I-Site Studio modelling and analysis software, giving surveyors the tools they need to deliver data and models for their counterparts in planning, design and feasibility teams.

In addition to its survey capability, the company continues to develop Vulcan software to streamline the processes followed by geologists and mine engineers in their everyday tasks. MineSuite will also continue to evolve in response to industry demands.

The future for Maptek will continue to lie in innovation and development through customer feedback. Maptek is currently developing new software solutions as a result of direct collaboration with customers. While these solutions are being developed to address specific requirements of individual companies, they are evolved with the global industry in mind. This is an exciting step forward for Maptek and a sign of its future software development.

Last updated: 18/11/2017