Making the Connection-IoT in Mining

Making the Connection-IoT in Mining

If you’re a player in technology in 2015, you've got inevitably encounter IoT, or Cisco’s Internet of Everything (IoE), two terms wont to describe the interconnection of “things” to the remainder of the connected world, people, devices, process, and data. Coined a decade and a half earlier, it's only within the past two years that “Internet of Things” and “Internet of Everything” have gained the incredible attention and momentum that are fuelling a subsequent wave of the web.

Connecting “things” is that the assumption of IoT, a modern-day occurrence that's making a replacement economy centered on helping in connecting people to people, people to devices and devices to devices. The impact of this new economy is predicted to succeed in $8.0 trillion by 2020 consistent with IDC or $14.4 trillion consistent with Cisco Chairman, John Chambers.

The impact of IoT is staggering and suggests a fantastic opportunity for industries that are traditionally slow to adopt technology to take advantage of the advantages of connecting “things” to drive greater efficiencies. As a case point, consider mining; typically considered as risk-averse, many would propose that mining has done just fine without the hype promised by IoT solutions. From a standard ICT perspective, underground mining has remained within the Middle Ages, sitting years behind the technology adoption curve. The massive majority of North American operations use outdated communication systems that contribute limited scalability not able to deliver high bandwidth, low dormancy data to support modern IoT type applications like autonomous vehicle operation, Ventilation on Demand, real-time location, et al.

“Change is that the new status quo” and as Cisco‘s John Chambers stated eventually year's Cisco IoT World Forum in Chicago, “…companies that fail to remake and embrace the IoT will lose their competitive verge…" this is often a strong statement and one that forward-thinking mines are taking to heart.

The Internet of Everything encapsulates the notion of big data and data analytics that interweave data from multiple sources to create a contextual story to decision makers

Consider organizations such as Rio Tinto, Glencore, Vale and others all of whom have taken a hard look at their technology road maps to determine how the implementation of modern wireless technologies in both underground and surface operations can provide greater insights into their business. Rio’s "Mine of the Future” provides an excellent example of IoT in mining. Their autonomous mining operations in Australia’s Pilbera are a prime example of the use of wireless technology to increase productivity, safety and minimize downtime and disruption to mining operations. As enabling technologies make their way to mines across the globe, a plethora of new applications challenge the traditional methods of mining. Connected sensors on geotechnical instrumentation provide engineers with real time visibility into ground movement; connected drills provide feedback on drill times, operator behavior and drill performance.

Connecting production vehicles and their onboard network of sensors to reporting, analytics and decision support solutions allow mine operators to identify inefficiencies in their processes, anticipate equipment failure before it occurs and deliver a holistic view of the entire mining process from drill and blasting to movement of ore from the face to the mill.

While not all applications necessitate a complete displacement of legacy systems, greenfield projects are almost exclusively designed with scalability to accommodate the IoT in mind. However, the tides are shifting as more and more mining operations begin overlaying high speed networks to connect their disparate array of sensors to remote monitoring systems that feed valuable data to decision support systems allowing operators to gain greater insight into their business. The ability to unlock valuable data from mobile equipment, add sensors to ground control infrastructure and monitor environmental condition from surface is changing the way mines run their rock factory. The connected world of IoT is slowly bridging the gap between the underground and surface, providing stakeholders with valuable insight to improve decision-making. As in many manufacturing applications, the ability to identify bottlenecks on the process and adjust accordingly can only be accomplished by connecting and looking at the “things” in the process.

However, connectivity and data acquisition do not necessarily equate to insight. The Internet of Everything encapsulates the notion of big data and data analytics that interweave data from multiple sources to create a contextual story to decision makers. For data to be meaningful, it must be contextual and actionable to those who need it. Insight and the ability to turn data into predictive context is one of the top technology forecasts outlined in Cisco’s Technology Forecast 2015 representing a significant growth area in IoT ecosystem, representing an estimated $7.3T of IoE opportunity over the next 10 years. Needless to say, the future of connected mining is here and slowly becoming more pervasive.

Read Also

Advances in Mobility & Data Promise to Transform the Future of Mining

Advances in Mobility & Data Promise to Transform the Future of Mining

Dennis Gibson, Chief Technical Officer of Black & Veatch Mining
Metal Additive Manufacturing (AM): Enabling a New Emerging Technology

Metal Additive Manufacturing (AM): Enabling a New Emerging Technology

Bill Massaro - Director of Advanced Manufacturing, Moog Space and Defense Group
7 Important Machinery and Equipment Required to Optimize Mining Operations

7 Important Machinery and Equipment Required to Optimize Mining Operations

Kevin Hill, ‎Online Marketing Manager, Quality Scales Unlimited
Digital Wave in Mining

Digital Wave in Mining

Christine Gibbs Stewart, CEO, Austmine
Intelligent Methods Drive New Understanding

Intelligent Methods Drive New Understanding

Anthony Scriffignano, Chief Data Scientist, Dun & Bradstreet
When IoT Meets Mining

When IoT Meets Mining

Sean Dessureault, President, MISOM Technologies