Tag Archives: big data

Mine Evacuation Best Practices

Best Practices for a Safe Underground Evacuation

Best Practices for a Safe Underground Evacuation

Mine Evacuation Best Practices
Photo Credit: https://www.workplacesafetynorth.ca/news/news-post/mining-safety-report-new-heat-stress-standard-released-ontario

One of the biggest challenges underground mining operations face is visibility of events happening underground from the surface. When monitoring an evacuation situation, this limitation is even more pronounced when ensuring miner safety during an emergency.

Newtrax recently spoke to Michael Place, Unit Manager at Gold Fields’ Granny Smith mine, about the best practices to follow during emergency evacuations. Michael has spearheaded the implementation of the Newtrax Evacuation Notification system at Granny Smith and will be speaking about the benefits of this digital system at the upcoming IMARC 2018 conference in Melbourne.

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Newtrax: What types of dangers are miners exposed to underground that  could trigger an emergency evacuation?

Michael Place: When it comes to dangers facing miners underground, the most terrifying would be fire. Operating diesel powered equipment in a confined space can deplete oxygen when fire and smoke break out. Some other triggers of an emergency include, but are not limited to, seismicity (underground earthquake), fall of ground, unintentional initiation of explosives, any personnel medical emergency, gas intersection, water inrush, vehicle vs vehicle collision and so on.

 

Newtrax: What are the first 3 things personnel working underground should do when an emergency has been announced?

Michael Place:

  1. Park up equipment off main travel ways
  2. Make their way to the nearest refuge chamber
  3. Maintain radio silence to allow the airways to be clear for communication to the incident scene

 

Newtrax: What are the most important things to think about during an emergency underground?

Michael Place: Accounting for all personnel and if there is an injured person, getting them to the surface as quickly and as safely as possible.

 

Newtrax: How are emergencies in underground mines different from any other emergency alarm?

Michael Place: The sheer size of an UG mine adds a layer of complexity to an emergency. Accounting for personnel and communicating from above ground to underground are some of the hardest things to manage. Generally, the assistance required in an emergency comes from above ground through the form of a medical professional or the emergency response team (ERT).

 

Newtrax: How does technology enable emergency evacuation to be safer?

Michael Place: Accounting for personnel underground without the use of the radio allows the radio to remain clear for communication to the incident scene. Allowing real time tracking of personnel gives the incident controller data like never before to focus on the incident at hand.

 

Newtrax: What kind of advice would you give to other underground mines about best practices regarding safer emergency evacuations?

Michael Place: When it comes to enhancing safety UG during emergency evacuations, the most important aspect is getting all personnel out from UG or to a safe location in a safe manner, as quickly as possible.

Best practice now combines multiple technologies including stench gas, voice over alarm and the Newtrax Evacuation system to ensure communicating to all personnel that an emergency in in place is done as fast a possible. Investing in technology to enhance safety in UG mines ensures everyone goes home safely every day.

Learn how Big Data, IoT, and Predictive Maintenance can help you?

Contact a Newtrax Expert to answer all your questions on how our custom solutions can integrate seamlessly with your underground mining operation.

Underground Mine is the Future

Will underground mining replace surface mining in the future?

Will underground mining replace surface mining in the future?

Underground Mine is the Future

A wave of influential factors – including economic, political, environmental and technological advances – strongly suggest that underground mining will be the miner’s method of necessity in the not-so-distant future.

Mineral explorers and project developers are increasingly unable to find economically viable deposits with a proven plan for open-pit mining operations. Many companies currently operating surface mines will be looking towards brownfield underground operations to expand operations and extend mine life.

This, however, is not the entire foundation for the future of underground mining.

Emerging economies across the globe are growing their middle-class populations in bustling urban centers, putting ever-increasing demands on mining operations to produce the raw materials that make modern society possible, from infrastructure to consumer goods.

However, while consumers want a new car, a television and even renewable energy infrastructure, they tend to no longer accept the environmental and social costs that surface mining has on their communities. Policymakers and neighbors of mining operations vocally reject the visual impact of an open-pit, a waste dump and the destruction of habitat it brings during construction and operations.

“They are unwilling to accept the loss of farmland, the possible impacts on ground and surface water, loss of recreational space or the noise and traffic issues stemming from truck traffic associated with surface mining,” according to the research. “Underground Mining for Meeting Environmental Concerns – A Strategic Approach for Sustainable Mining in Future.”

The pioneering work of Newtrax is eliminating the current digital divide between surface mines and underground mines to make operations safer, environmentally sustainable and more profitable.

Big Data is helping to reach ore deposits more economically

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are helping miners reach underground ore deposits more economically.  Digital twinning, first created by NASA, allows geologists and engineers to develop predictive work models using real-time data from the field to test out production scenarios before they are implemented, leading to productivity and environmental improvements.

Real-time data improving productivity

Rio Tinto generates 2.4 terabytes of data every minute from mobile equipment and sensors at its  16 mines, 1,500km of rail, three ports around the globe. Data-driven precision mining powered by machine learning will make the mining industry more profitable.  The data helps miners know how much of the ore has been extracted and which direction it has traveled – key performance indicators vital to driving improvements in the mine. This can be especially helpful in block caving, an efficient underground mining method that uses gravity to force ore to strategic draw points below. Other miners are reducing fuel and energy costs by using smart machines to sort mined material based on set criteria defined by real-time analytics.

IoT technology is making underground mining safer

Working deep within an underground mine is dark, wet and inherently hazardous. Having initially adopted a ‘fast follower’ approach to IoT technology, the notoriously risk-averse sector is finally waking up to the fact that data is now, arguably, its most precious commodity, with 40% of mining businesses now expecting to leverage the technology within the next 12 months.

IoT has the potential to improve safety, automate machinery operation, facilitate predictive rather than preventative maintenance, improve traceability and harness real-time data and analytics.

Equipment performance and maintenance

Unplanned downtime is very costly to mining operations. Mobile equipment sensors give miners real-time health checks of their equipment, including temperature, speed, and vibration. This allows operators to predict when to schedule planned maintenance. In underground room and pillar settings, this can keep an operation in continuous production, avoiding costly shutdowns.

The ability to access this data empowers mining companies to understand the precise manner in which their machines are being used, how well each individual machine is functioning, and can offer predictive suggestions to increase both productivity and profit.

The data mining of today is literally setting the groundwork for the next-generation underground mine that will be powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning capable of producing incredibly productive operations that protect human life and the environment.

Learn how Big Data, IoT, and Predictive Maintenance can help you?

Contact a Newtrax Expert to answer all your questions on how our custom solutions can integrate seamlessly with your underground mining operation.

Using Technology to Increase Safety during Mine Evacuations

Using Technology to Increase Safety during Mine Evacuations

One of the biggest challenges underground mining operations deal with is visibility of events happening underground from the surface.  When monitoring an evacuation situation, this limitation is even more pronounced when ensuring miner safety during an emergency.

The team at Gold Fields’ Granny Smith mine recently decided to change this by using technology to increase safety.  Newtrax was engaged to provide an underground personnel tracking system using their enabled cap lamps.

Through the Newtrax enabled-cap lamp technology, the Granny Smith Mine was able to improve:

  1. Safety
  2. Performance
  3. Profitability
  1. Improved Safety

The technology incorporated into the Newtrax enabled cap lamps transform the lamp into more than just a Personal Safety Device, it is an integral part of a mine evacuation system. Where the limitations of communication through two-way radio make it difficult to be 100% sure of the miners’ safety during an emergency, the Newtrax Evacuation Notification system is able to position each team member underground in real-time.

All existing Cap Lamps at the Granny Smith Mine were replaced with the Brando Corded and Cordless Cap Lamps with Newtrax Safety Features and a High-brightness Light. This allowed Granny Smith to integrate with the Newtrax Evacuation system which sends an emergency message underground to every cap lamp. When activated from the surface, the lamp lights flash, notifying all employees that an emergency has been initiated. They set up their system to work in parallel with their stench gas system and their voice over alarm.

The Newtrax Evacuation system allows Supervisors and the Emergency Response Team (ERT) to quickly determine the location of all employees below the surface, improving safety.

  1. Improved Performance

Emergency drills are important, and they take time and resources to effect, ensuring that all personnel are accounted for while handling the incident. Mines rely heavily on two-way radio for communication, and in an emergency visibility can be lost when the understanding is only as good as the radio calls made to and recorded on the surface.  

The first ever Newtrax Evacuation test was conducted at Gold Fields’ Granny smith mine on July 31st, 2018 through an underground mock emergency exercise. This is the second time worldwide that the Newtrax Evacuation system was adopted in its full capacity, and the hardware functioned seamlessly.

These systems allow the Emergency Rescue Teams (ERT) to know exactly which miners are in which refugee chambers in the mine, and refocus their energy on those who have not yet made it to their chamber.

  1. Increased Profitability

The Newtrax Evacuation system allows for effective and accurate safety drills. Using Newtrax technology reduces the time and resources needed to effectively execute and complete the drill, leaving more time for production.

The result of setting up the Newtrax Evacuation system in the Granny Smith mine was evident: improved safety, performance and profitability during an evacuation drill. Due to the safety features that the Newtrax enabled cap lamps offer, additional features can be added on to the software as required. These include vehicle proximity detection and full mine employee tracking and positioning through an expanded Newtrax Minehop network.

Talk to an expert today on how to best implement the safety measures your mine requires today.

Improve Safety, Performance and increase Profitability.

Have a Newtrax expert contact you to learn how our Custom systems can integrate into your current infrastructure.

Future of mine safety

The Future of Mine Safety and Profitability through Data Collection

The Future of Mine Safety and Profitability through Data Collection

Future of mine safety

“I think that what we are doing right now at Newtrax is defining the future needs of the mining industry.” Louis-Pierre Campeau, an AI expert with Newtrax Technologies said while describing his role and its impact on mining.

Campeau was the subject of our recent blog on  “How Big Data is Solving Three of Mining’s biggest Challenges”.  Since his role and expertise will have such a huge impact on how the mining industry will conduct business in the future, we took some time to sit down with him and talk about his personal journey, and where he sees his work impacting the mining industry over the next 5-10 years.

  1. Future of Safety in Mines
  2. Future of Mining Productivity and Profitability
  3. Future of Data collection for mining

The Mining Industry is very niche, what inspired you to branch off into Mining Engineering?

“I always knew that I wanted to go into engineering, but I wanted to do something different and unexpected.” Said Louis-Pierre who took Mining Engineering with Polytechnique. He has found the mining industry to have become much more of a passion than expected.

The new reality will make it easier to foresee possible risks and prevent them...

1.  Safety in Mines

How will the algorithms you are developing impact safety for the underground mines of the future?

“The new reality will make it easier to foresee possible risks and prevent them.  Predictive maintenance would be the best example of this” explained Campeau. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, companies with a 9% reactive maintenance rate had a recordable incident rate of .1%, while those with a 64% reactive maintenance had a recordable incident rate of 4.3%.

These statistics highlight how having reliable equipment is safer.  Interpreting real-time data on your equipment and how they interact in the mining environment keeps everyone safer in the mine.  These algorithms are preparing today for the future needs of safety compliance in safety and prevention.

2.   Mining Productivity and Profitability

How do you see the shift toward technology impacting the future of Underground Mining profitability?

Louis-Pierre explains how productivity in mines is lower than in other industries, that working underground creates a gap of knowledge transfer between supervisors of different areas of the mine in real-time.  “Decisions are made while there are still variables which are unknown. Solutions like what Newtrax offers makes it possible to have a global view of situations for better decision making.” There are serious cost savings when you can make important decisions with a full and clear picture in mind.

3. Data collection for Mining

Once mines are collecting data and digitizing their systems and fleets, what’s next?

Mines have started digitizing their fleets and collecting data.  This is where data contextualization comes in. Through the fleet and network agnostic systems at Newtrax, the data collected can be connected and contextualized.  Louis-Pierre explains “Being able to have the full context of any data will bring more possibilities. Using trends and algorithms trained by multiple mines to predict events in any given mine.”

Mining will be much more calculated in the next 5 – 10 years, this means knowing exactly what is going on under the surface from to make the mine safer, more profitable and understanding how all of these elements interact with each other to have the most productive operation possible.

Digitally transform your operation today!

Speak to an expert about how with Newtrax you can monitor data in real time, improving Safety, Productivity, and Maintenance.

How Big Data is Solving Three of Mining’s Biggest Challenges

How Big Data is solving three of mining’s biggest challenges

Blog_BigDataSolvingMiningChallenges

Advancements in Industrial IoT systems have made data collection in hard to reach places such as underground mines more accessible than ever before. Thousands of sensors can now automatically upload millions of data points, revealing potential insights that were previously unattainable.

The pioneering work that Newtrax is investing in to collect this data is on the forefront of the digital transformation that the mining industry is going through, helping mining companies around the world solve their three biggest challenges:

  1. Increasing Safety while optimizing productivity
  2. Reducing costs
  3. Reducing waste to increase sustainability

However, while invaluable, all of this data can quickly become overwhelming.

To sift through the data-noise, Business Intelligence (BI) analysts can interpret past data to understand the historical performance of a business, while Machine Learning (ML) algorithms can analyze the past data (trends or patterns) to make future predictions.

Louis-Pierre Campeau, Ph.D. candidate and expert in mining optimization joined Newtrax to help us do the latter.

“If you’re on the sidelines waiting for the right moment to enter the world of Big Data and Machine Learning, you could easily get left behind,” Campeau said. “The bigger the datasets you start building now, the better equipped your Machine Learning algorithms will be five years from now, giving early adopters an incredible competitive advantage.”

For a typical large-scale operation, the mine accounts for a third or more of total operational cost. Some mid- to late-stage mines can expect capital and operational costs to double in the next five years as they navigate geological, operational and regulatory challenges.

That’s why operators of Tier 1 assets are accelerating their investments in data collection and analysis capabilities to be better prepared for the wave of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

The Big Data collected underground through IoT systems will solve mining’s biggest challenges in the following ways:

 

1. Through the data collected from people working underground, Machine Learning algorithms will be able to clearly identify trends in dangerous and hazardous situations based on past behaviour and incidents. This will enable mine management and the Health & Safety departments to take preventive measures to significantly reduce the risk of accidents and fatalities underground.

2. The data collected from mobile equipment, such as tire pressure and engine performance, will enable the prediction of maintenance so precisely that time and cost associated to unplanned maintenance will be significantly reduced, or even practically eliminated. The better we can predict the previously unpredictable, the more productive the mine will be.

3. The environment, such as water, ground and gas levels, are also very powerful data points that can enable the mine to significantly reduce waste and mine with precision. By collecting, analyzing and interpreting historical data on the environment, underground mines can increase the safety of their workers and significantly reduce waste for a more sustainable mining operation.

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Is it time to go Big Data?

Big Data is, well, really big. It can be overwhelming for companies to determine where to start. Newtrax is well-positioned to provide the services, the technology, and the coaching to guide mining companies on their Big Data journey. Our staff of engineers, technology experts, and data scientists are here to help you become the industry’s next data-driven underground mining operation.

Using Big Data will help your underground operation.

Get in contact with a Newtrax expert.  Learn more about how Big Data can increase safety, reduce costs and increase overall sustainability.

Disrupt Mining Goldcorp Newtrax

Newtrax is Proud to be Sponsoring #DisruptMining to Support Innovation in Mining

Newtrax is Proud to be Sponsoring #DisruptMining 2018 to Support Innovation in Mining

Disrupt Mining Goldcorp Newtrax

Newtrax is very proud to be sponsoring #DisruptMining, a platform for entrepreneurs working with disruptive and exponential technologies to showcase their ideas to revolutionize the mining sector.

Join us at #DisruptMining on Sunday, March 4 in Toronto, where the winner of the competition will be announced in a live shark-tank style finale!

Newtrax and Goldcorp

Newtrax and Goldcorp have been working together on several projects to increase Safety and Productivity at some of their biggest mine sites.

In the next blog posts, we will be exploring how we were able to help Goldcorp Éléonore achieve its outstanding safety record in 2017 and optimize its fleet with Mobile Equipment Telemetry.

MET Maintenance Alarms Dashboard

The Value of Maintenance Alarms: AEM Goldex Reduces Down Time and Saves Costs

VIDEO: The Value of Maintenance Alarms: AEM Goldex Reduces Down Time and Saves Costs

Being able to offer mining operators a real-time look at operations below ground is invaluable. This allows for mining operators to have a better understanding of some of the complex logistics as well as how their miners and vehicles function on a day-to-day basis. By implementing systems such as Newtrax Mobile Equipment Telemetry, manager are able to have access to statistics and big data to compare and contrast what is and what isn’t working for the mine. MET solutions are able to record important data when it comes to machine failure, operator practices, and the efficiency of the vehicles throughout any given work day.

Agnico Eagle’s Goldex mine was looking for this kind of transparency for their underground operation and they wanted to be able to dig deeper and fix internal issues that would save them time and money in the long run. For this reason, Newtrax worked one-on-one with Goldex to design a dashboard with alarms and notifications that would help them increase their overall productivity.

Paul Gorodko, Newtrax MET Project Manager, sat down to explain the nuances of each system and the overall goal of the Goldex project, “We wanted to obtain a visibility of maintenance alarms and equipment utilization”.

Gorodko explained that there are four dashboards that collect and store the data. These dashboards consist of:

  • Microsoft Power BI Dashboards
  • Summary Reports
  • Detailed Event Logs
  • Detailed Graphical Reports

These help mining operators understand how their machines are being handled underground. Gorodko said, “We start out with a high-level dashboard which shows you what your good and bad days are, essentially. These are based on KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators). If you find a situation that is an anomaly you can then drill down into the event logs or even search through the second-by-second analysis of what has been recorded on the vehicle. This is what gives mining operators better visibility of the situation at hand”

These four dashboards allow for the following areas to be monitored in real-time:

  • Maintenance
  • Tire Pressure
  • Shift Start and End Times

Maintenance

Everyone knows that keeping up on a vehicle’s maintenance is key to the integrity of the machine itself. Many times miner maintenance issues are overlooked and end up resulting in costly repairs that also require days of downtime.

Now that Goldex vehicles are equipped with MET, mining operators and maintenance crews can now retroactively, and proactively look over logs of data to determine the cause of the machine failure. MET data can even allow crews the time to order new parts before the machine breaks down. This cuts down the time the vehicle is not able to be used. Goldex was looking for a solution that would help to bridge that gap, and in 2015, enlisted the help of Newtrax and began implementing Mobile Equipment Telemetry Solutions (MET). Over the last two years Goldex has seen improvements in their productivity and accurate maintenance predictions.

Tire Pressure Alarms

Goldex spent an average of $1.5 million a year on tires. 80% of those costs are spent on new tires because the old ones failed prematurely.

Premature tire failure is the result of low tire pressure. If the tire pressure falls below a certain level it can be scrapped in one work shift resulting in the need for a whole new set of tires. All work vehicles are equipped with tire pressure sensors, but unfortunately many of the vehicle operators turn a blind eye to this alarm.

In general, vehicle operators are paid by the weight of material they are able to extract. This means operators are not always the most concerned with refilling tire pressure if that is going to get in the way of them making money during their shift.  By adding an alarm to the dashboard, it creates a certain amount of accountability for workers and allows for mining operators to see who is and who isn’t taking proper action.

Shift Start and End Times

It takes time during each shift change for operators to gather their gear, go underground, get to their equipment, and start work. This process can also take time when it is at the end of a shift. By incorporating MET, mining operators are able to monitor how long each of these shift changes are taking and where they can shorten times to improve productivity.

Operator Practices Report

This shows standard driving practices of the vehicle operators. Speeding, rushed acceleration, harsh braking are all risky driving behaviors that will show up in the report. This report will also show if the vehicle had been hit or had any collisions. This is important data to have in the event of an accident in determining who is at fault.

Goldex has already seen the effects of this groundbreaking technology. The Goldex team recently experienced engine failure on one of their crucial vehicles. Newtrax was able to show members of the Goldex Maintenance team that there were events leading up to the breakdown that could have been prevented. By retroactively looking back, the Newtrax team was able to explain how to prevent other future engine failures from occurring. The Newtrax team was then able to create a new Maintenance Alarms through the dashboards that would enable the GoldEx team to better predict and prepare for unplanned vehicle downtime.

MET Solutions is paving the way for transparency in the underground mining industry. GoldEx is just now starting to see the benefits of this incredible technology, and through more data collection, and machine learning, this will inevitably continue to grow and become even more useful in boosting productivity.

Newcrest Toguraci Bore Pump Newtrax

Newtrax Bore Pump Monitoring System Lowers Risk of Floods at Newcrest Toguraci Mine

CASE STUDY: Newtrax Bore Pump Monitoring System Lowers Risk of Floods at Newcrest Toguraci Mine

Newcrest Toguraci Bore Pump Newtrax

Abstract: By teaming up with Newtrax, Newcrest’s Toguraci Mine was able to implement a dewatering solution that made their mine safer and more productive. It has proven to lower the risk of flooding while at the same time reducing downtime of standard operations when flooding did occur. Lastly, by moving past hardwire interlocking connections and replacing them with wireless network controls, Toguraci has made their mine into a safer work environment.  

Introduction

The Toguraci Mine in Gosowong, Indonesia has been in operation since 1999. It is operated by the Indonesian mining company PT Nusa Halmahera Minerals (PTNHM). 75% of the project is owned by Newcrest, an Australian based company and one of the world’s largest gold producers.

Gosowong is a small, remote island located off the coast of Indonesia. Because of its location, and the extreme depth of the mine, it is affected by intense and invasive flooding of high-temperature water. Ground water that makes its way into underground workings is up to 80 degrees Celsius further compounding surface air temperature and humidity problems as well as nullifying any cooling initiatives. This, in effect, slowed down production and endangered the lives of mine workers. Furthermore, cooling of the air that was brought underground to 16 degrees Celsius had little effect on the wet-bulb temperature of the face.

Over time, Toguraci realized that operating under their current flooding conditions was no longer realistic and began to seek out advice and guidance for a more permanent solution that would be both cost-effective and safer for their employees. Toguraci reached out to Newtrax in 2016 to form a partnership.

Together, they were able to implement an IoT based telemetry system designed especially for Toguraci. The implementation of this system has made their mine much safer while also maximizing productivity.

Challenges

The Toguraci mine operation is a small mine (1.5ktpd) that needs to pump 300 Litres per second for dewatering purposes. Flooding of specific areas would shut down the production of the mine from several hours to several days and occurred frequently over the course of many months.

There were many causes of flooding in the mine:

  • Changes in the earth’s water table levels that occur due to heavy rains or other natural events
  • Internal issues with the mines dewatering pump system and stations
  • Inability to take timely action when changes in water levels occur due to mining activities

Besides flooding, Toguraci is also affected by unusually high water temperatures ranging from 70-80 degrees Celsius. Water at this temperature causes 3rd-degree burns if it comes into contact with human skin. The high water temperature also causes the earth and the mud that surrounds the mine to become extremely hot. Besides the threat of burns to personnel, these high temperatures change the climate of the mine, making the mine extremely hot and humid to the point of it being unsafe for workers to enter.

Newtrax Global Support Manager, Martina Barnett, explained how Toguraci used to manage their dewatering pump system and how that system was defective.

“They had a problem with their pump interlock, because the way that they would implement their dewatering was in multi-stages. If the pumps on one level stop working, the pumps that feed into that pump also need to stop working. Otherwise the [mine] floods.”

She went on to break down how the borehole pump system is configured at Toguraci, explaining that, there are three levels of pumps that were being controlled manually and by hardwire connections.

Newtrax Global Support Manager, Martina Barnett, on site at Toguraci mine

The lowest level borehole pumps were responsible for the intake of water coming directly from the earth’s water table. When it would fill to capacity, overflow water would then be distributed to the midlevel holding tanks (or “fish tanks”). When the Fish tanks reach capacity, they would pump water to the top level holding tanks. Communication between the different levels of holding tanks was facilitated through a hardwire system, enabling the lower holding tank to know when the fish tanks above were full.

Unfortunately, the connection was often lost and the midlevel tanks would flood, creating substantial damage and setbacks before workers were able to rectify the situation. When these issues would arise, an employee would then be sent, sometimes by boat, to manually turn off the tanks and manage the pumps correctly to effectively dewater the mine. Having an employee descend in these hazardous conditions obviously poses many risks to the individual and subjects them to an unsuitable environment.

Solutions

Toguraci had two issues that needed to be solved in order to advance their mine and make it safer. They needed to:

  1. Enable remote control of the pumps and holding tanks. This eliminated the need to send down personnel to manage the pumps manually.
  2. Create a system that would alert relevant personnel in the times of crisis. This mitigated the damage and gave personnel more control, enabling them to get the mine back to production sooner.

With these goals in mind, Newtrax knew they needed to create a new product that would be centered around their pre-existing MineHop network. This would allow the mine to run bore pumps on a wireless network that could be accessed from anywhere in the world.

Through the years, Newtrax has gathered extensive knowledge and insight on telemetry technology and were able to use this when engineering the bore pump telemetry for Toguraci.

This project was considered nonrecurring engineering (NRE), an independent product and solution specifically crafted and designed for Toguraci with the intention of making this particular mine safer and more productive in general.

MineHop

Newtrax started by integrating the MineHop system into the current bore pump system present at Toguraci. This application was put in place to connect the equipment underground to the main network above ground. The MineHop network is able to connect individual pieces of telemetry technology and share their status and data through the networks internet connection. This is done through the use of nodes placed in and around the holding tanks that take in real-time data and transmit that information to the server on the surface.

Piezometer

Newtrax also incorporated their existing Vibrating Wire RTUs connected to piezometers, sensors which measure the water pressure in a borehole, thereby allowing the system to calculate the level of the earth’s water table. By adding these devices, personnel could see the current level of the water below ground and prepare the pumps presumptively in the event of a water pressure increase.

I/O Controllers

Induscomm I/O Controller Fan & Pump
Induscomm I/O Controller Fan & Pump

Newtrax then collaborated with Indus-Comm to create I/O controllers that are able to interface with the MineHop system.  These I/O controllers ensure easy and remote access to the pumps and monitor the status of the holding tanks. Combining the date from the I/O Controllers and the Vibrating Wire piezometer RTUs allows personnel at Toguraci to remotely close and open connections on different pieces of equipment. Indus-Comm created two separate I/O Controllers for Toguraci.

  1.  Digital Monitor/Controller- This allows for monitoring and controlling of the tanks allowing personnel to see whether they are on or off, and if there is an issue with the equipment.
  2. Analog Monitor- Allows for monitoring of flow meters and other number-based measurements.

It was important for Newtrax to enable Toguraci with wireless network access capabilities. This is why they chose to use their MineHop network to connect all the systems. Having quick, real-time information, is crucial for allowing Toguraci to recognize and fix flooding issues on the spot.

Being connected through the wireless network enabled anyone with access to the system to easily log in to the dashboard and immediately see the statuses of each pump and their location. The dashboard is animated with widgets that help personnel visualize where the problem is and how they can resolve the problem in the most timely fashion.

This is also an important key point for training new employees. Having a system that is simplistic and user-friendly lends itself to shorter training periods and less room to make mistakes.  

Newcrest Toguraci Bore Pump Newtrax

Another advantage of having an internet based system is it is easily accessible from anywhere in the world. This means that when an issue arises, personnel can quickly log in and assess how to fix the issue. They can then remotely shut off or turn on pumps to new holding tanks. Being able to do this in a timely fashion saves the mine from unnecessary damages and clean up. Having the bore pump system remotely operated also makes the mine safer by eliminating the need to send down personnel to manually manage the pumps in dangerous flooding conditions.

Outcome

The implementation of the system was completed within a week, and the actual installation of the key equipment took approximately two man days. 

The project’s aim was to reduce the insufficient performance of the existing mine pumping stations operating together as a system. Specifically, the system was forecasted to reduce the number of flooding events from the tripping of upstream / top level (primary pumps) from over 10 hours per month to less than 2 hours per month (5 x decrease in duration)  as well as generate a 2x reduction in the number of flooding events.

Since the system was implemented in April of 2016 it has greatly reduced the occurrences and effects of flooding in the mine.

By incorporating this system, it has allowed Toguraci to have a proactive approach when dealing with flooding issues. Whereas before the Newtrax system was implemented, Toguraci was only able to have a reactive response. This was achieved by enabling personnel to see real-time data that they are able to manage online.

In the event of a flood, it is easy for personnel to act fast and spring into action to avoid unnecessary damages. Having quick and accurate access to information has limited the amount of downtime and has enabled the mine to continue production while mitigating flooding issues.

Often when a company decides to integrate a new operating system it requires intense training or the hiring of an outside contractor to come in and handle the operation of the system. This is because many companies’ solutions run from software which is complicated and hard to interpret.

It was important for Toguraci and for Newtrax that the system was easy to use so the local workforce was able to operate the system themselves. As explained by Patrice Corneau, Product Owner at Newtrax Technologies, the goal was to create a system that would have

“easy configuration, easy modification for the local electrician[s]”.

 

Newtrax Product Owner, Patrice Corneau on site at Toguraci mine

Giving the local workforce the ability to manage the system themselves ultimately saves the mine a lot of money while also enabling faster response time and better outcome.

Goldex Case Study Newtrax MET

Newtrax Mobile Equipment Telemetry (MET) Enables AEM Goldex to Increase Productivity

VIDEO: Newtrax Mobile Equipment Telemetry (MET) Enables AEM Goldex to Increase Productivity

The Goldex mine is part of the chain of operations and properties that Agnico Eagle Mines owns in the Abitibi region of northwestern Quebec.

Like many underground mines, Goldex saw an opportunity to improve the visibility of maintenance and operations of their underground mobile equipment. Their objective was to find a way to better prevent vehicle maintenance downtime and become ultimately more efficient in their operations. In the following post we will showcase an overview of the mine’s challenges, how Newtrax intervened to propose solutions, and how this has affected the mine’s day-to-day-operations.

The Challenge

One of the big challenges that most underground mines face is the difficulty in gathering data homogeneously when dealing with a mixed fleet of mobile equipment. Most mines will have fleets of multiple different OEMs that either don’t gather data or that do in very different ways, which makes it difficult to see the overall picture of what is really going on underground.

Ultimately, having limited visibility on the data of the overall fleet can interfere with operations and the mines overall productivity.

Goldex was looking for a solution that would help to bridge that gap, and in 2015, enlisted the help of Newtrax and began implementing Mobile Equipment Telemetry Solutions (MET). Over the last two years Goldex has seen improvements in their productivity and accurate maintenance predictions.

What are MET Solutions?

MET solutions provide mine operators with essential data that can be pulled directly from any mining equipment.

In the case of Goldex, this meant that they were able to attach sensors to their underground mining vehicles that could then communicate with the dashboard systems above ground. MET systems are used to collect massive amounts of data, and having the capability to access the data empowers the workers to make better decisions. Once mining companies collect the right data to analyze, they can then begin to understand the precise manner in which their machines are being used, how well each individual machine is functioning, and can offer predictive suggestions to increase both productivity and lower their costs.

Visualization is Key

Most operational mine keeps detailed reports and logs of day-to-day data. However, these reports have typically looked more like excel spreadsheets which are filled in manually. What Newtrax wanted to provide was a more visual way to collect and analyze data. To do this, Newtrax integrated an easy to use dashboard within the MET system. This provided mining operators the ability to navigate and control the collected data.

The importance of visualization is amplified when working with big data. Many people find the massive amounts of data to be intimidating and overwhelming. Having a simple interface that is user-friendly allows for better comprehension of the gathered materials.

How has MET Improved Productivity at Goldex?

Goldex now has access to 4 different kinds of reports, these include:

  •      Microsoft PowerBI Dashboards
  •      Summary Reports
  •      Detailed Event Logs
  •      Detailed Graphical Reports

These 4 reports make up the high-performance dashboard and take the big data that is collected and simplify the information down into understandable content.

Newtrax was also able to create alarms that would appear on the dashboard in the event of an issue. The dashboard monitors and allows for visibility in the following areas:

  •      Maintenance
  •      Tire Pressure
  •      Shift Start and End Times
  •      Operator Practices Reports
  •      Payload Reports
  •      Standard Production Time

In the coming blog postings we will begin to delve deeper and explore how each of these features has improved Goldex’s productivity and visibility.

How has MET Improved Productivity at Goldex?

Maintenance Alarms: Preventing Vehicle Unplanned Downtime

A Goldex vehicle suffered engine failure due to unknown circumstances. However, by using the dashboards, Newtrax was able to help the Goldex Maintenance team pull data from a vehicle to understand what had been the cause for the engine failure.

This was taken as a learning experience and Newtrax was able to then add additional Maintenance Alarms through the dashboard to enable the Goldex team to better predict and prepare for unplanned vehicle downtime. This has lead to savings in operational costs and reduced wasted time.

Payload for Trucks

Newtrax installed Payload Monitoring Systems that were attached to each haul truck and worked in-sync with the MET system. The Payload Monitoring System would monitor and weigh each load that was carried up by the haul trucks. This system was implemented when mining operators realized that haul trucks, on average, were only carrying up about 60% of their load capacity. Since it has been in operation, the Payload Monitoring System has increased payloads and therefore can result in increased productivity.

Standard Production Time Analysis (SPT)

The SPT system allows mining operators an inside look into the activities tied to the vehicles and workers underground. This system can give a breakdown of the times the vehicles were stopped, when they were idling, how long it took the crew member to get their shift started, and what was the overall equipment efficiency (OEE). If the mining manager is able to spot a problem he can then begin to investigate father to see where the true issue lies.

Newtrax is committed to providing customers with mining technologies that are easy to use, simple to integrate, and have proven success working in an underground mining environment.In the case of Goldex, we realized that visualization was key so we worked with their team one-on-one to help them find sustainable solutions that suited their needs.

In the next blog series we will provide deeper insight into how Goldex utilized MET to tackle their challenges.

Stay tuned!

AIML underground mining

Underground Mines Seek Business Value from Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AIML)

Underground Mines Seek Business Value from Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AIML)

AIML underground mining

The Foundation

More than 75 underground mines worldwide currently utilize Newtrax sensor-based solutions to capture big data on real-time events tied to mining vehicles, workers, and the underground environment.

For years, clients have called on Newtrax’s world-class mining savvy experts to help them consolidate and transform these huge amounts of data into simple actionable insights through reports and data visualization tools.

The next step is to optimize the use of this collected data by leveraging the use of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning techniques and tools. According to Alexander Wissner-Gross, it is datasets — not algorithms — that have historically been the key limiting factor to development of human-level artificial intelligence. That being said, companies Like Newtrax are already at an advantage, as they have already collected large datasets, ready to be processed by algorithms.

Understanding the Volatility and Opportunity of AIML

We are in a period of fascinating volatility in AIML, as these fields are changing the marketplace at an unprecedented speed. As we all know, AI research has seen many cycles in recent history, but it is this current cycle that is finally delivering business value thanks to the recent availability of big data and the new computational models of GPUs and TPUs.

Evidently, an important success factor for sustainable AIML development for mining is to understand this volatility in the AIML technologies resulting from the massive research efforts around the world.

Meanwhile, a significant gap exists between the innovations in AIML and the fairly limited availability of AIML products and expertise in the underground mining industry. Newtrax is committed to bridge that gap.

Newtrax embodies an enthusiastic and diligent approach to working with those passionate about underground mines in order to learn how to harness AIML’s business value and opportunities despite the technology volatility.

The Focused Strategy that Starts Now

Here is a condensed list of the objectives we have set for ourselves in 2018:

  1. Listen to our customers. Especially those ready to be early AIML adopters. Our world-class team of underground mining savvy experts seek to capture crucial operating metrics and pain points and translate them into plausible and compelling use cases for AIML pilot projects.
  2. Focus on finding a plausible ROI for each use case. But actively look to uncover strategic competitive advantages for our customers.
  3. Leverage the open and modular architecture of the Newtrax Solutions which is meant to integrate with existing Customer Systems who can pick-and-choose the pieces they want to integrate while also making it easy for Newtrax R&D to include and connect newer more powerful AIML pieces as they become available.
  4. Leverage existing AIML platforms from global players (ex: Google)  while creating innovative solutions that drive business value for mining industry specific applications.
  5. Continuously look out for emerging AIML application
  6. Learn from our close relationship with Montreal-based IVADO, the largest researcher consortium in Canada in Data Science, AI and Operations Research.
  7. Share, interact and collaborate with Montreal’s very large community of public and private AIML and Deep Learning researchers (see this chart and this video about AIML and Montreal).

The Future is AI

According the this recent HBR article, over the next decade, AI won’t replace managers, but managers who use AI will replace those who don’t.

This is something that we at Newtrax believe is quite accurate, and our goal is to equip those managers today with the strategies and tools needed to achieve that edge.

Meanwhile, this article by Ernst & Young states that the #1 risk miners face in 2017-2018 is “Digital Effectiveness”, which is why we are focused on making sure the AI objectives set by our customers will fit seamlessly with their other digital transformation initiatives.

Without a doubt, Newtrax technologies, the world leader in big data from underground hard rock mines, holds a unique position to driving value for its customers through AIML. Newtrax is fortunate to be already working in core operations with leaders in underground mining worldwide with hands-on experience capturing and managing big data and is committed to creating real-time business intelligence and business value from underground mining big data using AIML based solutions. Let’s get started!