The future of the mining industry will be shaped by technological trends emerging from the pandemic, which will help companies create safe and efficient mining productivity.
FREMONT, CA: In the era of artificial intelligence (AI) and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), there will be a continued transformation in every aspect of mining, leading to improved visualisation and optimised throughput. Digital and automation tools enabled miners to operate and sustain production during the pandemic. Consequently, technological mediums such as remote connectivity continue to sustain and enhance plant commissioning and asset maintenance. Europe’s mining industry will witness major trends due to digital and automation technologies, such as remote working and operations, safety and wellbeing, and collaboration.
Remote Operations Enabled by Digitalisation
By introducing remote working systems, businesses across the globe could continue their production even during the pandemic. It was the only method to resume the normal business process in all sectors. However, this immediate and necessary way has now become highly effective in reducing set-up time, labour, and resource costs. Tele-working also ensures better health and safety measures as the tasks can be performed in a comfortable space.
One of the major challenges faced during the pandemic was travel restrictions. Remote support systems resolved this issue by enabling working processes to run effectively in their respective places. It helped companies to fulfil logistical requirements and carry out projects, manufacture, and install the products within the project timelines through remote support. New technologies are helping companies carry out commissioning and collaborate with clients in real-time from different places. Remote operations are enabled by advanced connectivity, which helps in vendor-client engagement from different places. However, improved technological connections lead to the need for protecting data by enhancing cloud solutions and data analytics. Therefore, cybersecurity plays a vital part in unlocking contextualised data using IoT, which helps to optimise productivity and reduce downtime.
Ensuring Safety and Wellbeing
In the aftermath of a pandemic, health concerns became even more significant. When observed in the mining industry, safety issues prevail as one of the most significant matters to address. Digitalization can bring certain changes in underground operations, ensuring the safety of the workers through improved connectivity systems. For example, operators can be connected to a central operations hub using geo-location tools and track their real-time locations. It can be carried through geolocation devices in smartphones and wearables, which help them identify their proximity to hazardous locations.
Manufacturing companies are also developing electric trolley truck systems that help to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and improve the working environment at underground mining sites. These electric trucks are driver-friendly which will reduce noise pollution and remove hazardous gases from the air.
A goal can be achieved swiftly and effectively when it is carried out by a team of people with different skills. Similarly, building alliances will be a fruitful way of developing technological solutions by collaborating with technology suppliers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). This method is largely used for electrification projects such as mobile fleet integration. Collaboration helps to jointly develop solutions based on expertise in each domain and has technological and economic advantages. The responsibility of the project scope can be shared among organisations, which helps to reduce the burden of the manufacturing process.