Top five benefits of using IoT in Mining
Mining is a complex business — companies use heavy machinery for their operations, which stretch from pit to port, and manage a workforce ranging from miners to executives. Consequently, the mining industry faces many challenges including fluctuating prices, demand volatility, falling productivity and hazardous conditions. Constantly on the lookout for ways to increase productivity, profitability, and safety, mining companies are turning to technology to solve some of their problems. And this is where the Internet of Things (IoT) technologies are coming in useful.
IoT enabled equipment provide real-time updates allowing mining companies to jointly manage operations and delivery and improve business decision-making. With this real-time information, mining companies can anticipate and prevent problems, better monitor logistics and equipment, improve quality control, and adapt production to match demand. Cisco has helped Dundee Precious Metals to connect people, process, data, and things, both under and above ground, in ways never before imagined, to quadruple production from 5,00,000 tons to 2 million tons and cut costs to the tune of $2.5 million.
Sensors embedded in equipment monitor the performance of machines and trigger alerts to predict failures before they occur. These advance warnings allow companies to proactively carry out maintenance before the problem can halt operations. Predictive maintenance means no breakdowns, higher asset uptime, and increased productivity by delivering more ore from the existing infrastructure.
IoT enables autonomous mining operations where the machine operates by itself without the need for a human operator. The equipment is internet-connected so that an operator sitting in a control room, either onsite at a safe distance or at a remote location, can monitor the equipment. This increases safety by keeping humans out of harm’s way. Cisco has helped Goldcorp Éléonore deploy a ventilation system on top of its underground wifi network, which has helped increase safety and reduce energy costs. The tracking feature of the solution provides Goldcorp with the exact location of its workers which translates into shorter evacuation and rescue time when there is an accident.
IoT helps reduce costs by cutting energy consumption at mining sites and preventing downtime. Internet-enabled automation increases productivity and reduces costs by eliminating manual monitoring. For instance, tracking devices help supervisors to ensure that the right machine is available at the right place at the right time, thereby preventing production delays and related costs.
Data and analytics
The increased use of IoT in mining will spew out huge volumes of data on several aspects — environment, safety, production processes etc. Gathering all the data and analyzing it will give useful information and bring about the next level of optimization by identifying inefficiencies and waste in existing processes. Advanced analytics on this data will give insights on past actions and help mining companies to predict upcoming trends.
Clearly, IoT innovations offer a chance for the mining industry to move out of its traditional style of functioning and step into the digital age.