LKAB paves the way for the future of mining

LKAB has been a pillar of Swedish industry since 1890. The company is now undergoing a digital transformation journey, on which new standards are being defined. Not only for technical management, but also in terms of core issues such as maintenance, safety and effective teamwork.

In her role as Strategic Maintenance Manager at LKAB, Maria Ryytty is ultimately responsible for creating the conditions for maintenance systems and methods in accordance with European standards.

– Strategy-driven maintenance is a central component. There are more than 700,000 machines and objects in our fleets. With everyone at LKAB working according to similar standards, we can see common investments and improvements, Maria Ryytty says.

TAK, a Swedish acronym that stands for Availability, Site Speed and Quality, summarises the key factors in LKAB’s quest to maximise the performance and efficiency of its mining operations. In addition to being translated into operational progress, the factors can also be understood in economic terms through the use of UEB, another acronym that stands for the Economic Importance of Maintenance.

UEB is essential to ensure optimised mining processes and long-term sustainability for LKAB, by providing a cost picture that plays a central role in company decision-making.

Leadership builds trust

LKAB has a strong work culture, where each individual strives to contribute to the maximum, taking into account their own circumstances. Maria Ryytty explains that LKAB’s leadership vision is a central component:

– Our leadership vision is based on an inclusive and relationship-oriented leadership that is built on trust. It is a powerful tool for leaders, where trust in those who work together is at the core. Everybody does their best in their own way, and it’s this mutual understanding and trust that creates a strong work culture in our organisation

Digitalised maintenance strategy: Technology of the future

Maria Ryytty explains that LKAB is moving from traditional to data-driven maintenance. In the future, predictive maintenance will be used to manage critical machinery according to its individual challenges and needs.

– We are looking at predictive maintenance, especially for machines where additional monitoring is crucial. Through pilot projects and innovative approaches, such as implementing this monitoring on a conveyor belt, we aim to integrate these technologies cost-effectively, where the value of the machine does not exceed the cost of maintenance, Maria Ryytty says.

To explore new digitalisation models, LKAB is collaborating with a number of universities, and different platforms are already being used to mobilise permit orders and work processes. Ryytty emphasises that the right competence is needed to use these tools and models, which is also part of the company’s overall strategy to embrace digital transformation.

Security first

In addition to the right skills, Ryytty underlines that LKAB handles sensitive information, which requires a comprehensive approach to security, especially given the threats facing Sweden.

– At LKAB, security comes first. Predictive maintenance using AI, IoT, machine learning and similar technologies is exciting for analysing and predicting events in maintenance processes, but it requires a new level of expertise and an understanding of security issues. We have to be careful about how we use and protect sensitive information.

Diversity is a key factor in skills development

Continuous skills development is also high on the agenda. To address skills-related challenges, LKAB has developed diversity-oriented recruitment strategies and an inclusive career path.

– We have a career path where employees can develop, climbing a competence ladder based on their roles and knowledge levels. Diversity is also a key factor for us. Different educational backgrounds, competences and experiences enrich our workforce. We make sure we have a wide range of competences, from engineers to technicians, and create steps to introduce new employees to maintenance, Ryytty says.

She concludes:

– As the industry moves from traditional maintenance to Industry 5.0, we face opportunities and challenges, especially when it comes to building new facilities or transforming existing ones. We need to understand the opportunities and aim higher. The digitalisation of maintenance is sensitive and requires not only technical skills but also investments in education and skills supply. We need to boost Sweden with all types of engineers. A diversified labour force is the key to future success.

Read more about Underhållsmässan.