Field Solutions Group : Empowering People and Mines

Jack Salter
Jack Salter - Head of Editorial

People are a real source of pride for FIELD Mining & Resources, the division of Field Solutions Group working to design, build, and maintain successful IT infrastructure for mining organisations. We find out more with Jody Barlow, Head of Mining and Resources.

EMPOWERING PEOPLE AND MINES

As technological advancements and digital transformation have drastically changed the face of the mining industry, reliable and seamless communication networks are of critical importance to operations. 

Indeed, from remote mining sites to global supply chains, the driving force behind innovation, operational efficiency, safety, and sustainability within the industry is connectivity.   

Due to a range of issues, however, implementing the correct technology for the mining sector can be challenging. 

Addressing complexities such as the distance between operations, large-scale data management, cybersecurity risks, and regulatory compliance requirements demands specialised expertise and a proactive approach to technology implementation and management. 

FIELD Mining & Resources, a division of Australia’s challenger telecommunications carrier, FIELD Solutions Group (FSG), understands these critical IT challenges faced by the industry. 

A technology leader that provides bespoke solutions for all IT needs, FIELD Mining & Resources’ customers in the mining and resources sector include Kestrel Coal Resources (Kestrel), Bowen Coking Coal (Bowen), Ravenswood Gold (Ravenswood), and more. 

“Every mining company has different requirements. In the case of our largest client, Kestrel, we are their trusted end-to-end ICT partner; we look after everything for them,” says Jody Barlow, Head of FIELD Mining & Resources.  

With dedicated on-site team members providing support and extra feet on the ground to Kestrel, the partnership exemplifies FIELD Mining & Resources as a one-stop shop for the IT needs of all clients. 

“If they need software, hardware, or anything else, they come to us, and we procure and manage it for them. It’s really bespoke, and we provide everything from data connections to desktop support,” Barlow notes. 

FIELD Mining & Resources, whose purpose-built network solutions are designed to optimise network performance, scalability, and connectivity, also looks after the security of the network, which is where the division’s expertise and professionalism come to the fore.  

“We focus on not only providing connectivity as a solution but a secure network. That’s an important piece; security can cripple a mine, so we spend a lot of time, effort, and money to make sure it is on point for our clients,” he adds.

FSG car at site Yamboon, NSW

STRIKING GOLD 

By providing a holistic approach to managed services and a single point of contact, FIELD Mining & Resources maximises operational uptime. 

“From our perspective, we need to guarantee a high level of uptime on the mine because if it goes down, it costs money. Ultimately, it comes back to being the partner of choice to look after their assets,” emphasises Barlow. 

In July 2023, FIELD Mining & Resources announced that it had been awarded an enterprise managed services contract by Ravenswood. 

The division will supply connectivity as well as managed services, security, and cloud services for Ravenswood, together with on-site resourcing supporting the mine. Additional IT and procurement services will also be sourced on an as-needed basis during the three-year contract. 

The deal with Ravenswood reinforces FIELD Mining & Resources’ focus on delivering integrated IT managed services and is a departure from the coal mines that the division has most experience in. 

“Coal is what we specialise in, and Ravenswood is the first time that we have forayed into gold mining,” Barlow reveals. 

Nevertheless, by partnering with FIELD Mining & Resources, Ravenswood will benefit from a very broad range of skillsets to service their requirements. 

“We’re an aggregator of professional services, so where our own internal staff don’t have the skillsets required, we are highly engaged with our partners who can then fill the gaps that we have,” outlines Barlow. 

“Ravenswood has three to four full-time IT staff working on the mine site, so our job is to support those guys. We also support everyone else from a remote hands point of view, as well as look after the security of their network.” 

Meanwhile, FIELD Mining & Resources is close to making some exciting announcements in the Tier 1 mining space, placing it even more firmly on the map. 

“That’s hopefully going to put us on another level and show some of the larger mining organisations that we are not just a smaller player, even though the Kestrel’s and Ravenswood’s of the world are very large clients,” Barlow affirms.

“From our perspective, we need to guarantee a high level of uptime on the mine because if it goes down, it costs money”

Jody Barlow, Head of Mining & Resources, FIELD Mining & Resources

TOGETHER EVERYONE ACHIEVES MORE 

As FIELD Mining & Resources’ recruits locally and invests in its people, the division’s head office in Queensland and remote office in Emerald are growing as a result. 

People are a real point of difference for FIELD Mining & Resources, as they substantiate how it provides mining clients with superior service both on-site and in the office. 

“The benefit of working with an outsourced IT firm is that we have the scale, but also the professionals,” Barlow states. 

The FIELD Mining & Resources team of qualified, professional Programme Managers, Project Managers, Network Architects and Engineers has extensive experience building and maintaining networks in remote locations and managing complex projects. 

In Townsville, for example, where Ravenswood is based, the team was tasked with understanding the lay of the land and the idiosyncrasies of a gold mine compared to the coal mines that FIELD Mining & Resources has traditionally worked with. 

“They’re a different mine, and they obviously mine different things, but at the end of the day it’s about going in and understanding what works and how it works,” shares Barlow. 

“We have dedicated staff to make sure we understand what makes Ravenswood tick, and that’s how we support their mine.” 

As a former professional rugby league player, team camaraderie was always a big thing for Barlow, a people person who has always enjoyed being around bigger teams. 

Replicating that feeling on the rugby field in the commercial world quickly led to mentoring, managing, and leading. 

“I like to classify myself as a leader more than a manager. “Together everyone achieves more” is the one catchphrase that I use; I lead from the front and don’t tell people to do something that I wouldn’t be prepared to do myself,” Barlow says. 

“I manage a good team, and I’ve always been able to put the right people in the right place, allowing them to do what they do to the best of their ability.”

Kestrel mine

ON THE LOOKOUT 

Together with his staff, Barlow is always on the lookout for the next large mining operation that FIELD Mining & Resources can partner with, especially now it has demonstrated its capabilities and the expertise of its workforce. 

“The utopia is always to find the next mining client that will need to utilise our services. We’ve got a really good story to tell, so we want to expand our client base and find more mining organisations,” Barlow sets out. 

Being a trusted advisor is the key to FIELD Mining & Resources expanding and putting its best foot forward in the marketplace. 

This is based on providing mining organisations with the services they require with true transparency and partnerships.  

“A true partnership for me is both parties going in with their eyes open and understanding what is required from each other – that’s what we’re looking for,” concludes Barlow.

Jody Barlow (far right) with members of his management team
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