Tag Archives: mining industry

Goldcorp Eleonore MET Newtrax

Real-Time Data from Goldcorp Éléonore’s Underground Fleets: Mobile Equipment Telemetry solutions for the Mines of the Future

Real-Time Data from Goldcorp Éléonore's Underground Fleets: Mobile Equipment Telemetry solutions for the Mines of the Future

Goldcorp Eleonore MET Newtrax

In our previous blog post, we highlighted efforts in proximity detection systems being implemented in Goldcorp’s Éléonore mine. Despite being named, and awarded, as one of Canada’s safest mines in 2016, the proximity detection solutions implemented through a partnership with Newtrax Technologies, helped establish and exceed safety benchmarks the following year.

Goldcorp’s partnership with Newtrax did not stop there. Faced with the challenge of managing a mixed fleet of mobile equipment underground, the Éléonore mine implemented Mobile Equipment Telemetry (MET) solutions, the most advanced vehicle telemetry system on the market specifically designed for underground mining fleets.

Equipped with a system that can transmit raw data from sensors on its underground fleet in near real-time, a new horizon had opened up for the mine’s operations management team.

What are MET Solutions?

MET solutions provide underground mining operations with essential data that is pulled directly from mining equipment such as scoops, haul trucks and drill rigs. The capability to access this data in near real-time empowers the Operations team at Éléonore mine to understand the precise manner in which their machines are being used and how well each individual machine is functioning. From these data-driven insights, the Operations team can implement predictive suggestions to increase both productivity and profit for the mine.

What Insights Can you Extract with MET?

Mobile Equipment Telemetry systems can provide large amounts of data to operations. After adoption and implementation, Éléonore management is focusing their data analysis on a few key things.

The key data we started observing was related to the diagnostics of the vehicles,” says Luc St-Arnaud, Manager of Strategy and Improvement at Éléonore mine. “The mechanical diagnostics, tire pressure monitoring, engine data, and engine maintenance to name a few.”

The first level of Mobile Equipment Telemetry solutions enables the team to begin to understand the performance of a specific vehicle compared to its operational usage.

“And then we go to the next level,” says St-Arnaud, “which is the integration for a fleet type. Take Scoops for example. What has been the overall availability and utilization of our fleet of scoops? And then we go to the next level, which is for our entire fleet, from the scoop trends to trucks and services vehicle.  This helps us manage different activities, including scheduling and sequencing of fleet maintenance.”

Benefits at Éléonore

Mobile equipment monitoring at the mine has immediate effects in the operation’s financial bottom line. These innovations allow for fleet optimization, less surprising downtime per vehicle, and time-saving operational workflows throughout the mine.

MET solutions enable further real-time monitoring of operational performance and health of different vehicles on their fleet.

The innovations being implemented at Éléonore, including MET solutions and proximity detection, are indications of Goldcorp’s drive to be on the forefront of the digital transformation that is taking place in the mining industry.

Goldcorp Eleonore

Innovating for Safety at Goldcorp’s Éléonore mine, with Newtrax Technologies

Innovating for Safety at Goldcorp’s Éléonore mine, with Newtrax Technologies

Goldcorp Eleonore

In the spring of 2017, Goldcorp’s Éléonore mine was recognized for its outstanding safety record in the 2016 calendar year with the John T. Ryan National Safety Trophy for Metal Mines. The award is in recognition of the mine which achieved 2,592,938 hours worked during the year, with a reportable injury rate of 0.15. This was the best among Metal Mines in Canada. The operation also earned Regional Safety Awards for Metal Mines in 2015 and 2014.

The awards were sponsored by MSA Canada Inc., a global leader in the development, manufacture and supply of safety products, and the John T. Ryan National Safety Trophy Committee.

So management of the Éléonore mine set out to do even better in 2017 in regards to safety. In fact, the safety benchmarks established by the operations leadership were seen as aggressive and hard to achieve.

How do you take one of the safest mines in the world and make it even safer?

With the assistance of Éléonore’s Technical Service Manager, Gertjan Bekkers, Goldcorp looked to proximity detection innovations for their underground workforce and mobile fleet.

“Because Éléonore was so set up for innovation, particularly because of the connectivity in the underground, there were a lot more opportunities to implement technology,” Bekkers says. “We wanted proximity detection because we know that the interaction between the large equipment underground and the humans is a significant risk factor for these operations.”

Through a thorough product search with a number of vendors, Goldcorp and the leadership of the Éléonore mine decided to partner with Newtrax Technologies, a leading safety technology provider specializing in underground hard rock mining operations.

The project consisted of a mine-wide implementation of 660 new fully-integrated Newtrax-Enabled Personal Safety Devices to be worn by the mine’s workers, which can reach up to 150 people underground at any given time.

In addition, proximity detection technology was also installed into the mine’s mobile equipment. With both systems installed, operators of large equipment are constantly notified when people and smaller equipment are in their proximity.

The Éléonore safety system works directly between the workers’ cap lamps and the equipment that is set up with the proximity detection system. The system works independently from the underground communication network, assuring its functionality in all areas of the mine. Goldcorp workers in the mine can be comfortable knowing that no matter where they are in the mine, there will be connectivity between them, their cap lamp and any machine in the surrounding area.

in 2017, Éléonore improved its safety performance and in doing so, raised the standard once again. Bekkers admits that a wide range of efforts went into achieving those numbers and establishing a strong safety culture amongst the workforce, but the Newtrax proximity detection system certainly played a part.

Continuing the Innovation Journey

The proximity detection system implemented at Éléonore mine is only one example of Goldcorp’s innovation strategy that is disrupting all areas of its business.

Now their mines are built on digital platforms supported by fiber optic backbones and Wi-Fi. They have large volumes of data flowing in, and getting that data digitized and working for them is a big effort but significantly improves health and safety performance and can increase productivity.

When discussing innovation in the industry, Bekkers says “I think the industry is open to innovation. The industry wants it. It’s largely spurred by the fact that the world around us is changing and the world underground is not changing half as fast.”

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!

Artificial Intelligence in Underground Mining Newtrax

Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence for Underground Mining

Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence for Underground Mining: FAQ

Artificial Intelligence in Underground Mining Newtrax

In the news, the exciting fields of Machine learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) keep announcing breakthroughs around the world and in various industries.

The mining industry has also joined in and recently started to explore and seek the benefits of this new “general-purpose technology” with ML & AI enhancing safety and productivity in underground hard rock mines.

Newtrax has been actively investing in resources towards building an AI knowledge base and expertise for applications in underground hard rock mines. With this, we have created a short “FAQ” to demystify some of the common questions that the industry might be asking.

Is AI really useful or is it only hype?

It is a reality. Today, AI is helping society in applications like recognizing cancer tissue faster than experts, finding criminal patterns in tons of financial transactions, doing speech and video recognition for converting huge video banks into structured information, chatbots that speak and understand speech to become better assistants, and the list goes on.

What is the difference between Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning?

Machine Learning is actually simply a sub branch of Artificial Intelligence, which also includes a sub branch of its own called Deep Learning. Artificial Intelligence also includes both Operations Research and Heuristics which can also be considered AI.

The illustration below explains it well:

AI Definitions

Are ML and AI relevant to the mining industry?

Mine managers are accustomed to analyzing the ROI before investing in technology. The same goes for paying for the services of an ML or AI bot. The expense must pay for itself within a given period. In the field of AI, that decision is usually easy to make, especially for proven algorithms.

ML and AI are very relevant to the mining industry, in fact, there are numerous practical ways ML and AI can be used within mine operations.

  • Re-optimizing in real-time the shift plan of mine activities for overall mine productivity upon occurrence of an unplanned event.

 

  • Self improving predictive algorithm avoiding breakdown of mobile equipment based on continuous monitoring of vehicle sensor activity. This alone can save countless hours of equipment downtime.

 

  • Predicting in real-time activities that can become bottlenecks

 

  • Finding patterns in events leading to hazards, accidents or fatalities which also enables mine operators to evaluate and understand where their safety standards are lacking.

 

  • Finding patterns in productivity variance. This can help in operations planning and time management since it is highlighting areas where improvement is immediately possible.

Should mining companies care about IoT and AI?

Definitely. According to a recent white paper by World Economic Forum, compared to other industries, especially customer-facing ones, the mining and metals sector is considered to have lower levels of digital utilization. However, For those organizations that can move from being digital laggards to digital first movers, the value is real.

A recent article by Techemergence noted that the nature of the industry means mining companies are hyper focused on any way to improve productivity and efficiency. So it is not surprising that some mining companies are becoming very aggressive about exploring artificial intelligence, machine learning, and autonomous equipment to find ways to improve efficiency.

Autonomous equipment and smart equipment have been well tested and are being rapidly expanded to new mine operations. Many of the biggest mining companies in the world have been significantly growing autonomous haulers fleets for a few years which is a strong proof that they are applications which provide a positive return on investment.

Mining is relatively unique in that it requires big capital investments in extremely expensive pieces of large equipment, and a main way to be competitive is a ruthless focus on efficiency. This is going to always make the industry a logical choice for pushing the envelope when it comes making equipment smarter and applying algorithms to make better decisions.

Man Down Alert Newtrax

Newtrax-Enabled Cap Lamp “Man Down” Alert Saves Miner’s Life

Newtrax-Enabled Cap Lamp 'Man Down' Alert Saves Miner's Life

Man Down Alert Newtrax

On November 2, 2017, a contractor at Fresnillo’s San Julian mine, located in Mexico, went to work in the underground mine just as he normally would.

As he went down the ramp during the second shift, the miner lost consciousness and fell to the floor. Fortunately, the miner was wearing his Newtrax-Enabled safety cap lamp which was equipped with the “Man Down” feature.

This Man Down feature has been developed by Newtrax to detect cases of miners collapsing from an injury or health-related issues. If a miner remains motionless for more than 60 seconds, the person’s Newtrax-enabled cap lamp alerts crew members in the vicinity.

If the cap lamp remains still for an additional 30 seconds (90 seconds total), it will send the “Man Down” signal to rescue workers above ground while at the same time notifying team members and vehicles in the area.

This is exactly what happened last month at San Julian when the miner in question fainted while making his way underground. As soon as the surface workers received the alarm through the Newtrax web console, they sent for help.

Newtrax-Enabled Cap Lamp Man Down Feature
Injured Miner was located thanks to the Man Down alert received on surface on the Newtrax Console

Luckily, they were able to pinpoint the location of the injured miner thanks to the Newtrax location tracking system, and a group of contractors in that area was notified to aid him.

The unconscious miner was escorted outside of the mine and to a hospital nearby to get treated,  and was declared stable shortly after.

The Aftermath

The mine’s management and leadership team held a general meeting to discuss the incident a few days later, where they expressed gratitude towards the technology that helped save the life of one of their workers. They came to a consensus that investing in safety technologies was a wise decision, and proved to not only generate a quick ROI, but mostly to save a person’s precious life. It was concluded that the Newtrax-Enabled devices are more than just cap lamps, they are life-saving tools that every miner should carry when underground.

Saving lives is no easy task, and in the event of an evacuation or an injury, it is crucial to be able to locate and communicate with personnel quickly. Newtrax understands the risks that come with with underground mining, and its mission is to reduce them as much as possible to ensure a safe and productive work environment for all miners working underground.

The Newtrax Proximity Warning System

To better understand how Newtrax’s Safety solutions work, take a look at the following video.

Request a Demo

Our experienced Sales Team would love to show you how simple the Newtrax Safety solutions are to deploy and maintain. Drop us a line and we will schedule some time to speak with you!

Digital Transformation mining safety

Infographic: The Benefits of Digital Transformation on the Mining Industry

Infographic: The Benefits of Digital Transformation on the Mining Industry

According to a recent white paper by World Economic Forum, compared to other industries, especially customer-facing ones, the mining and metals sector is considered to have lower levels of digital utilization. However, For those organizations that can move from being digital laggards to digital first movers, the value is real.

Digital Transformation mining safety

For links to all the sources, please refer back to World Economic Forum’s original white paper here.