New sensor and data technologies are helping big and small miners to make better and faster decisions. And the potential impact of these technologies is huge.
The internet of things or IoT will have a US$160 billion to US$930 billion impact on the world mining, oil and gas construction industry by 2025 according to the CSIRO.
Automation and IoT means being able to capture real-time data from all sources – machine sensors, environmental sensors, apps, software and enterprise resource planning,” says Ashley Bosworth, Director of Pulse Mining Systems a software developer specialising in developing technology for the mining industry.
“Data is rapidly integrated and analysed to present one single version of the truth as an easy-to-read visualisation that’s continuall
y updated. There are no delays waiting for human interactions, nor any opportunity for human error or misinterpretation.”
Benefits for end users
For Gavin Wood, Chief Information & Digital Officer at Newcrest, IoT and digital technologies present an excellent opportunity to increase productivity without necessarily needing to invest in capital-intensive mine or plant expansion.
“At Newcrest we believe (and have demonstrated) that IoT and digital technologies can significantly improve plant and mobile fleet availabilities, throughput, and recoveries, which in turn will lead to more gold production and more free cash flow, delivered at a fraction of the cost of mine or plant expansion” says Mr Wood who will join a panel discussion on digital strategies in the mining sector.
According to Pulse, today’s promise of IoT is fulfilled by people at all levels possessing business information (BI) that’s timely, accurate, and meaningful; and by managers accessing instant drill-down to the transactional details for immediate corrective actions. The empowerment of human decision-making by IoT and BI together produces quantum improvements in productivity, profitability, and organisational culture.
“Kestrel Coal Resources, a newer entity, has just implemented IoT analytics right from the outset. Being frontline enablers for IoT in mining we’ve noticed the discussions evolving from why mining should embrace IoT and what might be gained, to when this can be achieved and how to manage it,” says Bosworth who will be co-presenting on achieving operational excellence through agile collaborative methodologies on Tuesday 30 October within the Collaboration Theatre at IMARC.
Challenges of rolling out IoT
The trend of digital convergence that drives the application of IoT solutions isn’t just about the technology says the Newcrest CIO. It involves the teams from different “tribes” coming together from the Information Technology (IT) and the Operational technology (OT) worlds.
“Having all the players on the same page and working together well in the industrial IoT space at a mining company is critical to success.
“Integrating IT teams and OT teams is a key step to being ready to deliver secure and scalable IoT solutions, with integration at the both organisational and the process levels,” says the Newcrest CIO.
While Pulse Mining Systems mantra is to make the technical side of IoT roll-out smooth, in their experience challenges arise from the impact of real-time KPI visualisations being suddenly made available throughout the organisation.
“The most challenging issue is often gaining acceptance of increased scrutiny and the loss of certain freedoms as newly-extracted information replaces assumptions with actuals.
“For example, at one company, the KPI ‘time-to-first-coal’, the length of time taken from the start of a shift to mining the coal, was humanly reported as 120-minutes. When we started capturing data directly from the miner machines via IoT with Pulse Analytics, this unproductive period was found to be more like 180-minutes,” says Mr Bosworth who will also be chairing the afternoon session of the Operational Excellence conference on Wednesday 31 October at IMARC.
When the miners understood there was no way to get around “the system” with its accurate and highly-visible reporting, the time-to-first-coal was reduced by 33 per cent with corresponding increased productivity.
The mine of the future
Looking into the not too distant future, Wood theorises that all of Newcrest’s mining and processing activities will be automated, hosted in public cloud offerings and delivered to the company’s remote sites using IoT Edge technologies – a Microsoft technology that allows users to run their IoT solutions securely and at scale whether in the cloud or offline.
“The IoT Edge part is vital as mine sites are often in remote places where communications to the site can be challenging in terms of bandwidth, reliability or redundancy, and full automation from the cloud requires a suitable level of robustness and availability.
“We already have in place world leading Big Data and Data Science platforms to support this ‘mine of the future’ and we are in the process of building out our IoT platform to fully support the ongoing delivery of data science/AI to our sites regardless of whether the communications to the site are working or not at a point in time,” said Mr Wood.
As the only technology company in the IoT space that’s totally dedicated to the mining industry, Pulse is continuing to collaborate directly with mining businesses in product development to ensure that they’re delivering exactly what they need to achieve measurable results.
“Our user-focused collaborative approach is the new paradigm in development. An example is our co-creation of Pulse Analytics with Centennial Coal where Centennial saved millions of dollars and made productivity gains in double-digits.
“With each new implementation of Pulse Analytics, our end-user collaboration means we’re ongoingly developing new configurations with different KPI visualisations that will benefit others, and so this business intelligence gets more affordable,” said Mr Bosworth.
Hear from Gavin Wood, Ashley Bosworth and more than 350 mining leaders at IMARC at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre 29 October to 1 November 2018.
For more information visit https://imarcmelbourne.com/
The International Mining and Resources Conference is Australia’s largest mining event. Bringing together over 6,000 decision makers, mining leaders, policy makers, investors, commodity buyers, technical experts, innovators and educators from over 90 countries for four days of learning, deal-making and unparalleled networking. IMARC will run from 29 October to 1 November 2018 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.
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