How Visualizations and 3D Animations Simplify Complexities and Improve Safety Outcomes for Mining, Oil and Gas Projects

Industrial and Mining-Construction Modeling

Technically accurate visualizations and 3D animations offer an array of applications and benefits for the mining, oil and gas industry. From maintenance and shut downs, through to education, training and marketing, 3D animations deliver previously unattainable technical storytelling capabilities.

Traditionally, the mining, oil and gas industry employed project management tools like Gantt Charts to illustrate construction sequences. However, these traditional tools are complicated, disorganized, and overwhelming—their inefficiencies reduce collaboration and stakeholder management, particularly during the construction process.

Industrial visualizations offer a major step-change in how mining and oil and gas assets can be operated and maintained. They deliver real-time, realistic and technically accurate representations of complex assets, resulting in increased levels of communication, clarity and engagement for all stakeholders. Visualizations can help engineers and asset owners predict future performance, plan maintenance and shut downs, improve safety, expedite approvals and augment marketing activities.

Visualizations and 3D animations simplify complex stories for a wide variety of stakeholders.

Maintenance and Shut-Downs

Operations within the mining and oil and gas industries are highly technical, exceptionally complex and can be extremely dangerous. Animations that outline maintenance and shutdown protocols can help reduce schedule slippage, mitigate safety risks, and alleviate economic concerns.

For example, a train load out system at an iron ore mine site will convey approximately AU$14 million worth of iron ore per load, with two loads shipped every hour. Planned maintenance might require a train load out system to be shut down for a total of 22 days. This represents a significant loss of capital.

In this instance, asset owners and operators must communicate with two key stakeholder audiences: shareholders and seniors executives; and the workforce. These two audiences require unique data to satisfy their divergent objectives and concerns.

With significant revenue curtailed for a prolonged period, shareholders and senior executives will want to know what is happening, the process involved, and likely risks. A 3D animation can communicate this information quickly and accurately—telling the shutdown story via an easily digestible, high level configuration.

A second animation can be created for the workforce that contains more detailed information, outlining step-by-step how the maintenance works need to be executed.

Education and Training

In the mining, oil and gas sector, staff are at risk of exposure to dangerous situations. 3D animations can help mitigate these risks. Animations are imbued with capabilities that ‘normal’ videos simply do not possess. They can zoom in to a microscopic level, display the internal workings of machinery that are not visible to the naked eye, and depict processes that might be too dangerous to film with a camera. All of this functionality can help staff better understand maintenance procedures, drilling processes and system behaviors like flow and heat transfer.

Visualizations can even be used to replicate dangerous scenarios, such as a fire at a mine site or on an offshore oil rig. This animation could describe processes for preventing injury to staff, extinguishing the fire and ensuring the rig was safe for occupation, as well as model likely fire paths.

Local Community Engagement

Mining operations can have huge impacts on local communities, making the social licence to operate vital. Ineffective stakeholder engagement can severely damage a company’s reputation and cause delays in obtaining permits, or even mine closure, with price tags in the millions of dollars.

3D animations that clearly articulate factors such as environmental and social impact, pollution and waste mitigation strategies, site timeline, and mine site remediation plans can be a highly effective way to communicate complex information to the local community. Open and transparent communication with the local community on progress and performance is essential.

Marketing and Investor Communications

3D animation is a great tool for investor relations and marketing presentations. It can convert complex data like geological information into a realistic model that illustrates oil, gas or mineral reserves located hundreds of meters under water or underground. This gives potential investors a realistic depiction of the asset in which they are investing.

Visualizations can illustrate details that cannot be depicted in video footage—particularly in the project planning phase—such as how a mine will look in the future, or the subsea oil production process. The illustration of details such as these can be essential in showing a project to a client, investor, or even in obtaining permits. They explain complex products succinctly and effectively. Plus, these animations can be used on websites, in online or social media marketing, or at trade shows.

By simplifying complex stories for a wide variety of stakeholders, visualization affords the mining, oil and gas sector a whole host of benefits.