IoT in the Mining Industry: The Internet of Things is an extension of internet connectivity into physical devices. These devices are embedded with electronics that communicate and interact with other machines, sensors, connected appliances, and internet-powered equipment which can be remotely monitored and controlled.
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The IoT is changing how entire organizations operate and has the potential to transform the mining industry. It allows the industry to introduce underground monitoring and control systems to improve safety, and to automate certain operations so they run more efficiently and at a lower energy and financial cost.
A recent survey of 100 mining organizations revealed that 70% of participants believed IoT would give them a significant advantage over their competitors, yet the mining industry has been slow to adopt the technology. Additionally, 41% thought it could help build business process automation while almost half said it could be used to help save costs.
IoT to Improve Efficiency
Mining already makes use of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and drones, but digitalization and automation can further improve efficiency, save operational costs and increase excellence in mines.
The main purpose of IoT in mining is to increase productivity and reduce costs; this can be achieved using sensors on mining hardware and systems that monitor equipment. The data these sensors gather – known as big data – can be used to determine more cost-effective methods of conducting their operations and further increase efficiency.
The data from these sensors can also be used to reduce operational downtime by training machinery to be more efficient. Glencore, for example, have been using digital sensors to gather fundamental data from interconnected resources and equipment to see how it functions to improve overall efficiency. This has enabled them to increase the average tonnage from 55 tons to 60 tons in each outing.
Furthermore, the data from a completely integrated network allows companies to perform predictive maintenance as opposed to preventative maintenance, thus reducing equipment downtime through breakdown. The use of sensors allows companies to gain insight by monitoring, gathering, and analyzing the data from individual pieces of mining equipment.
Assessing each part of an operation is therefore much simpler and provides administrators with the opportunity to identify wear and tear for crucial equipment, and determine when repairs or maintenance are necessary. Incorporating IoT also means that when something does need fixing, engineers can sign in remotely and fix issues, potentially saving the site time and money.
Improving Safety in Mining with the Internet of Things
Mining has always been a very hands-on industry – there is often a need to physically extract or handle the product and with that comes a risk to the workers in terms of injury and falling debris – particularly as mines are getting deeper and more dangerous. […]
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