Agnico Eagle Mines has been managing remote mining operations around the globe for decades. Over time, they identified a need to extend their JD Edwards inventory applications and provide mobile solutions to use both online at sites and offline in underground mines. Agnico Eagle spoke at COLLABORATE 19 about how they established the need to extend their JD Edwards system with mobile, what they needed out of a new solution, and the phases of how they moved forward with the implementation.
About Agnico Eagle Mines
Since 1957, Agnico Eagle has been mining gold and producing precious metals in Canada, Finland, and Mexico. Today, the organization operates seven underground mines and four open pit mines, and it continues to explore additional mining opportunities in the U.S. and Sweden.
Agnico Eagle first began using JD Edwards in 2006. Since then, the company has been running a single instance at all divisions and has incorporated Financials, Procurement, Inventory, Maintenance, HRM, and Canadian Payroll. A few years ago, leaders identified a need to track internal shipments, and they decided to work with ERP-One Consulting Inc. to make the necessary changes to their platform.
Establishing the Need
Over time, leaders realized they had a gap in their processes. Lost materials and items showing up at the wrong delivery points began to cost the company large amounts of money. To fix their inventory issues, leaders decided to create an integrated system for tracking internal payments. After determining their top priorities, leaders at Agnico Eagle brought in consultants from ERP-One to oversee the implementation.
The need for tracking internal payments was apparent because of three primary parts of the mining process:
- Underground mines are made up of thousands of kilometers of tunnels, so large amounts of material must be sent to different workplaces daily.
- Material is stocked on pallets or in containers and can go through several points of delivery until the final delivery.
- The management of materials for internal shipping was currently done on paper.
Once the need had been realized, leaders put their heads together to determine five action items that the application would need to be able to carry out:
- Provide quick information about the quantity and location of materials
- Prepare shipments with material received from direct POs and with items in inventory—either in the warehouse or from outdoor storage
- Know where to send the material and track when it is sent, when it arrives, and each particular delivery point
- Provide usable information in the field—especially where there is limited Wi-Fi coverage (remote locations, underground, etc.)
- Provide multilingual language support
Next, they defined three core ways that the new system should be used:
- To provide accurate information on shipment contents
- To have information available from any computer or mobile devices
- To provide real-time information on shipment location (or at least last known location)
There were several business drivers that lead to the decision to create an EnterpriseOne mobile application. Decision makers wanted a mobile application that would work both above ground and down in the mines. They also desired a streamlined and job-specific interface instead of the typical JD Edwards screen. Ultimately, they wanted to retire the current pen and paper method, which led to lost materials or materials at the wrong delivery points.
There were also several technical drivers behind the decision. This mobile application solution would need to build shipments with data that was already stored in the Inventory and Procurements modules. The organization had already developed a custom JD Edwards app for plane shipment prep that could be leveraged. In addition, the implementation team knew that they didn’t want to maintain any additional servers for the integration.
Both the business and technical drivers led to the decision to create a more robust, online tablet application that could be used to create and edit internal shipments. Additionally, there would be an offline phone application (to be used on a small screen) for editing internal shipments while down in the mines.
Eventually, Agnico Eagle and ERP-One Consulting decided to design an application that could:
- Support multiple languages to accommodate global work
- Track all changes to ensure offline changes weren’t overwritten
- Function as a simple and streamlined interface
- Make usage easy on small screens in the mines
Today, the application has been developed and integrated with the JD Edwards programs. Check out the video below for a sneak peek of what Agnico Eagle and ERP-One Consulting came up with. You’ll see how they:
- Create new internal shipment using the JD Edwards Application
- Create new internal shipment using the online tablet application
- Log in to the mobile application and download shipments
- Log in to the mobile application while offline
- Make modifications to shipments and filter offline data (changed data, statuses, etc.)
- Upload changed shipments
There were four phases of Agnico Eagle’s implementation approach:
During the discovery phase, Agnico Eagle determined the needs behind this project and the approach for moving forward. This phase is the point in time where they identified both the business and technical drivers of the project. It’s important to engage people during this phase in order to identify gaps upfront rather than after the project is already underway. They asked themselves:
- Why do we need to change?
- What are we going to do about it?
- How are we going to do it?
The implement phase is when the application begins progressing through the actual implementation phases. These phases include:
- Documentation & training
- Support strategy
During this stage, Agnico Eagle wanted to get the application into the hands of end users as early and often as possible. This ensures that they are always in line with end user requirements and business and technical drivers. This eliminates the gap between what’s being requested and what’s being delivered.
The review phase involves reviewing, refreshing, and extending the strategy after the application has been implemented. It’s a chance to identify any changes or improvements that need to be made. During this phase, you’ll need to set a schedule for reviewing applications. During your review, you’ll determine if the application needs to be refreshed. You’ll also need to set a schedule for analyzing recommendations for future enhancements. After you’ve set these schedules and reviewed the application and recommendations, you’ll extend the application as needed.
The final step is the administer phase. This involves ensuring that you have a tools and administration strategy in place. During this phase, you’ll develop a software/hardware update schedule, an administrator training schedule, and create a runbook and documentation. Having these resources will help you plan for the future and stay on top of things moving forward.
Tips and Tricks
Agnico Eagle provided a few tips and tricks to help others who are also looking to develop their own EnterpriseOne application.
- Always use the standard JD Edwards controls that AIS returns when possible (labels, titles, etc.)
- Be mindful of the various AIS server timeouts and account for them if needed.
- AIS Client Class Generator is a great tool for auto-generating JAVA classes for any JD Edwards application.
- Think about using JD Edwards orchestrations where applicable.
- Utilize the JDE Rest API website as a resource.