INNOVATION

Mining a digital revolution

Increasing use of digital technologies to capture and report real-time mine operational data has the industry finally on a path to unlocking “billions of dollars” in productivity and efficiency gains, and cost reductions, says MineWare CEO Andrew Jessett. Miners have generally been slow out of the blocks, but the ‘digital revolution’ is gaining speed, prompting some leaders to suggest the industry will be unrecognisable in 10 years.

Staff reporter
 Better data management is leading to greater process optimisation in areas such as equipment utilisation and scheduling

Better data management is leading to greater process optimisation in areas such as equipment utilisation and scheduling

Jessett, MineWare founder, says there has been a "real increase" in the number of mines adopting digital technologies to harness real-time information flows in the past 12-18 months.

"IoT is driving this acceleration, enabling new levels of connectivity between mines, people and equipment and unlocking new ways of working and decision-making," he says.

But while the Internet of Things is delivering more data, Jessett says managing and analysing the information to produce better operational outcomes, and value, is key to increased industry investment in technology - and even more significant outcomes. Making "actionable" information available, quickly, at all levels of an organisation, is seen as a vital step forward.

"There's a real thirst for real-time information that drives real-time decisions at all levels," Jessett says.

"While there is an increase in sites extracting big data from individual machines and systems, the most long-term value will come from delivering a real-time feed of this information to centralised operations centres.

"We're starting to see much more of this, with remote centres focusing on continual performance monitoring and improvement—in people, processes and production.

"A real-time feed of information to centralised operations centres empowers sophisticated, centralised decision making and actions to improve operations across an entire global operation rather than local silos. Better data management is leading to greater process optimisation in areas such as equipment utilisation and scheduling, live reconciliation and integrated reporting."

MineWare's development of advanced monitoring systems for the industry's major capital machines, such as its signature Argus Shovel Monitor and Pegasys Dragline Monitor, underpins its position as a global leader in mine information management. The technology drew in a buyer for the company in Japan's Komatsu, one of the world's biggest mining and construction equipment manufacturers.

MineWare technology harnessed operational data from multiple sources in real time to deliver real-time performance improvement, Jessett said.

"The use of these technologies is also helping mines to improve the repeatability or predictability of their operations to deliver more consistent rates of operation and production," he said.

"This means more reliable time estimates for scheduling, reduced down-time waiting on tasks, increased utilisation of equipment, predictability of production rates and subsequent job duration.

"Latest advances in digital technology are connecting machines, data and people to perform faster, safer and more reliably.

"To fully leverage the opportunity that lies ahead, collaboration, integration and agility is key. We must find a way to integrate new technologies and take a coordinated approach to embedding these across the entire value chain—from machine functions and processes to complete system integration."

 

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