All posts by Cynthia Younes

Alexandre Cervinka CEO Newtrax

Conquering the world from deep down underground mines

LaPresse Interviews Newtrax CEO Alexandre Cervinka

Alexandre Cervinka CEO Newtrax

Conquering the world from deep down underground mines

For the original article in French click here.

There are 719 underground mines in operation around the globe, and Newtrax, a Montreal-based technology company founded in 2008, has implemented its safety and productivity solutions in 98 of them.

The goal is to be present is 400 of these mines in the next 3 years. Newtrax ranked 166th among the 500 fastest-growing technology companies in North America last year, according to Deloitte’s Fast 500, and its CEO has no plans to slow down this growth.

Over the years, Quebec has acquired real expertise in the mining sector. Is that why you decided to develop technologies specific to this field of activity? Did you have any prior geology knowledge?

Not at all. In 2001, I was a graduate in Electrical Engineering from McGill University and, with a few colleagues, started a business that used wireless sensor networks to recover stolen merchandise. Then, we developed a technology for the transport of goods and another for border surveillance. We developed projects, but not products.

Eventually, a professor from the University of Quebec in Abitibi suggested we apply our technologies to the mining sector. In 2008, we developed solutions that made it possible to better monitor the work that was being done in the heart of the mine, where telecommunications are impossible.

Our first order from a mining company in Chile, and that’s how Newtrax was born.

What kind of innovation did you bring to this industry that had previously operated in a rather traditional and archaic way?

The managers did not know what was going on in the mine in real time. They would be given a report when the workers came out after their shift. That’s all. They had no idea what was happening with the machines, with the workers, or with the environment in which people operated. We brought them the light, nothing less.

Systems have been developed to evaluate ground stability, air quality and water levels in real time using sensors that are installed in the underground mine. We have also developed sensors that measure the health and parameters of machines, to know the distance drilled, the tonnage moved by the trucks.

Workers have been equipped with a chip that allows them to be located wherever they are in the mine and to be detected in blind spots by large mobile equipment.

Mine managers are given solutions that allow them to better plan the maintenance of their equipment, increase the productivity of their operations while ensuring worker safety.

Your solutions have been well received by the major mining companies, as evidenced by the sharp increase in your revenues over the past year. Where are you in your development?

In 2008, we were eight employees, including the two founders, Vincent Kassis and myself. We got our first big contract with Mexican producer Fresnillo, the biggest money producer in the world, and since then, business has never stopped growing.

We have reached 140 employees, 75 of whom work at our Montreal head office to develop our existing and new technology solutions. Our systems are being assembled by three companies in the Montreal region, and onsite installation and training are being carried out in underground mines. We plan to hire 40 people this year, half of them in Montreal and the other half in our six offices in Santiago, London, Johannesburg, Moscow and Perth.

Our customers are the major producers of gold, silver, and nickel from around the world. These companies are concerned about their productivity and the safety of their operations. Our systems are installed in 98 underground mines and we expect to be present in 400 mines within three years, especially because we have just signed an agreement with Sandvik, the world’s largest manufacturer of underground mining equipment.

Sandvik is present in the 719 operating mines and we plan on becoming the nervous system of its machines. It opens up incredible opportunities. Our sales are expected to reach $ 100 million over the next three years.

How do you finance your growth? Have you opened your capital to financial groups?

We financed our growth from the sales that we made. We also received a good boost from investor Robert Brouillette, founder of the law firm BCF and recognized Angel Investor, who still accompanies us today.

A new shareholder was welcomed in 2014, when Australian mining fund Resource Capital Funds launched a mining technology fund that took a 30% stake in Newtrax.

What will be the next step in terms of growth at Newtrax?

We are already in it. Our technology solutions generate a lot of data and we will generate even more because of our association with Sandvik and its visualization platform. We have also partnered with the IVADO to develop machine learning solutions for our clients worldwide.

We have our foot in the door. We aren’t focused on generating revenue in the AI / Machine Learning sector but we are convinced that AI will further advance intelligent mining solutions for the future.

Improving Overall Equipment Effectiveness in Underground Mines with Newtrax

Improving Overall Equipment Effectiveness in Underground Mines with Newtrax

“Based on our benchmarking, we observe a global average overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) performance of 27 percent for underground mining, 39 percent for open-pit mining… compared with 92 percent for oil refining”

-McKinsey Global Institute 2016

The term “Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)” draws its origin from the manufacturing industry, and its significance to the underground mining industry is easily transferable.

Measuring Overall Equipment Efficiency for underground mining equipment is becoming best practice in benchmarking progress, identifying losses, and improving the productivity of a fleet.

Most underground mines in the process of digitalizing their operation face similar challenges:

  •     Having a multi-OEM mix of mobile equipment; producing  unstandardized data
  •     The inability to collect real-time data from all the faces, including development faces
  •     Having data, but not knowing how to transform the information into actionable solutions

Newtrax has developed an array of OEE solutions to address these challenges.

The following highlight some of Newtrax OEE successes:

OEE Overall Equipment Effectiveness

Improved Hauling Efficiency: Case Study

A mining operation with a mixed fleet of mobile trucks, including CAT AD30s and Atlas MT436s, was looking for a solution to establish standardized payload monitoring systems.

Newtrax installed its Mobile Equipment Telemetry (MET) system, which interfaced with the original equipment manufacturer (OEM)’s existing sensor network. Newtrax also installed an availability switch, onboard payload scales, and an external/internal payload scoreboard. The payload information was retrofitted to display on the OEM’s load cells.

Four trucks were monitored closely for an eight week period with the approach to Measure, Manage, and Improve using the traditional OEE calculation.

OEE = Availability(A)% x Utilization(U)% x Haulage Efficiency(Q)%

After the eight week period of data collection and observation, it was reported that Availability Time (A) was 93% and the Utilization Time (U) was 52% of the mine’s standard production time calendar. Analysis of the equipment’s payload data over the same time period showed a Haulage Efficiency (Q) of 64% with 19.4 tons out of 30 tons capacity.

These passively measured data points showed the operations OEE being 31%.

Using the information collected, the haulage efficiency data point became a key area of focus in improving efficiencies within the workflow.

SOLUTION:

To improve truck effectiveness, Newtrax proposed an increase to the dumper bed wall height to accommodate extra buckets, as well as digital scoreboards on the trucks’ cab for LHD, and an alarm system on each truck to initiate an overloading situation warning.

Conclusion

  • You can’t improve what you can’t measure
  • Technology is available to overcome stumbling blocks, and enable the management of mixed equipment fleets, through the use of timely data from active areas
  • Offering actionable insight to both mine managers and operators will deliver significant value in a short period of time
  • Improved haulage efficiency will ensure UG mining effectiveness is increased above 27%
Loads per cycle Sco

Why Measuring Loads Per Cycle is so Important in Underground Mining Part 2

Why Measuring Loads Per Cycle is so Important in Underground Mining (PART 2)

Loads per cycle Sco

If read our previous blog post, Glencore Matagami mine has recently been able to observe some great productivity ROIs since using the Newtrax Mobile Equipment Telemetry system.  This included:

  • a 5-6%  increase in Utilization on their ore haulage
  • a 4% increase in their Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)
  • a 5% increase in their Loads per Cycle

In this blog post we will explore Part 2 of the Q&A on the the topic of Loads per Cycle with one of our experts on the subject, Craig Banks, VP Canada-USA at Newtrax.

Q: What are the advantages of the Newtrax MET system?

A: You know the old saying you can’t manage what you can’t measure? The whole point of the Newtrax MET system deployed at Matagami as well as in other mines around the world is to collect measurable information and make it available for analysis and for management decision-making. Matagami has a wonderful set of reports and dashboards that are visible to their management team and soon to be on a TV screen so that they use them during the morning huddles. It facilitates communication at the end of the day. Whether we’re talking about the reports, the dashboard, the management layer, the analysis, it’s all about facilitating communication, understanding how your operations are going for real. It facilitates communication backed by data from the Newtrax system, and you can really take it to next level and make a meaningful change to a mining operation.

Q: What are some benefits a mine can see from Newtrax systems?

A: Case in point here was Matagami. They use both 45-tonne and 60-tonne trucks, which are impressively large trucks for underground mines. What we’ve achieved with the system that was deployed specifically with loads per cycle at Matagami was a 5% to 6% increase in loads per cycle. And you know what does that means? Well, that can mean extra several tons per cycle. And on a long, long cycle, like what they’re talking about at Matagami, that’s a massive improvement. We’re talking $3,000 per truck cycle, compared to a non-optimized payload.

Q: Are there any new sensor technologies on the horizon?

A: There’s an emerging payload system technology that we’re now using, and deploying in some cases, which uses sensors mounted on truck axles. When you load a haul truck, the axle does deflect even if it’s only a little bit. So what we’re doing is we’re putting sensors on the truck axles, and as the axles flex, ever so slightly, were able to record that and correlate the deflection of the axle back to the payload in the back of the truck. And of course, there’s some clever algorithms there to smooth out what happens as the truck driving goes up and down hitting rock. But what we’re able to do is use it as an alternative system. And what we’re finding is it’s an easier to install and easier to maintain system than the load cell plus pin, and it’s a relative newcomer. But you know, as this stage early indicators show that the results for accuracy and systems maintenance are very positive going forward.

Q: And what’s next for measuring loads per cycle?

A: Going forward to the future of measuring loads per cycle will be to offer different calibration systems, different payload systems, technology-wise, but also make all that data available to facilitate communication. The same way we’re doing it today but with additional types of technology and deployment on these vehicles. The whole goal here is whenever the technology is taking the measurement, make that data available, make sure it’s as rich as possible—because the richer the data, the more analysis you can do. We of course can’t ignore the emergence of Machine Learning and AI,  that need really good data to work. And that’s what we’re generating here for companies like Matagami.

Why Measuring Loads Per Cycle is so Important in Underground Mining Part 1

Why Measuring Loads Per Cycle is so Important in Underground Mining

Glencore Matagami mine has recently been able to observe some great productivity ROIs since using the Newtrax Mobile Equipment Telemetry system.  This included:

  • a 5-6%  increase in Utilization on their ore haulage
  • a 4% increase in their Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)
  • a 5% increase in their Loads per Cycle

In this blog post we will dive deeper into the topic of Loads per Cycle by sharing a Q&A with one of our experts on the subject, Craig Banks, VP Canada-USA at Newtrax.

Q: What are loads per cycle?

A: Put plainly, loads per cycle is a measure of haul truck efficiency. Or at least that’s how it’s used in underground mines. In terms of recent Newtrax client engagement such as Matagami, loads per cycle is average payload, literally the weight of the rock carried in a haul truck during one trip from the active mining area to a stockpile, or to a waste dump. This is most often measured in tonnes, and it has a variant which can be either represented by actual tonnes or a percentage.

Q: At a mine, how do you measure loads per cycle?

A: There are several ways to do it. One method that’s commonly used in surface mines is to have a truck scale at static locations in the mine, somewhat like a truck scale on the side of a highway that measures the weight of a loaded truck. In mining, principally in surface mine where a loaded truck would drive up onto a scale, you would weigh the entire thing. Knowing the approximate weight of a truck, you can actually figure out what the resulting payload is. So that’s kind of the way it’s been done for a long time, there’s a few limitations with that type of system.

Q: What are those limitations, is there a better time to measure the load?

A: Traditionally, systems give you a payload per cycle, or a load per cycle, but it’s measured during the cycle. So a truck that has a 45-tonne capacity might have 42 tonnes in its bed. Knowing that is great, but you can’t do anything about it. Because it’s measured halfway through the cycle, you can’t add material to the truck. Having the measurement at the loading stage, which is what Newtrax has done at Matagami, enables the operators to do something about it.

Q: What can be done with all this data?

A: Having all these rich sets of data allows companies like Newtrax to apply machine learning algorithms to build intelligence down the road. So, your mine planning engineers would look at that information and say, “Well, in the future, we need to plan better” or “In the future, this operator needs to be trained to do it differently.” That’s kind of the historical and the analytical end of it. But by recording data the way we do it, not only do you make it available for a rich data set for analysis, but you also make it available to operators, even real or near real time so that they can actually do something about it. And in underground mines, the supervisor isn’t sitting there watching. You’re lucky if the supervisor sees the operator once a day. So the decisions need to happen with the operator, where they can see what’s going on and intervene. It’s both an analytics tool so you can do your planning better and it’s a production tool.

Q: At Matagami, Newtrax has installed scoreboards on the trucks. What are the benefits of these scoreboards?

A: It’s funny in that we get either lovers or haters immediately and we always convert them over because scoreboards are awesome. But the truth is, payload systems have had in-dash scoreboards for quite some time on surface mines but they’re not always used well. If you just have it shown to the truck driver, you kind of have to go back to who’s in charge of the loading event: is it the truck driver or is it the loader operator? Frequently most of the time it’s the loader operator. And so if the information is visible only to the truck driver, probably nobody’s going to do anything about it. The idea of putting the scoreboard on the side of the truck is it facilitates communication between the two operators; it makes it so that as a loader operator is putting the payload in the back of the truck, you’re seeing in real time what that payload looks like. And so if you get the third bucket in the back of the truck and you happen to load lower density material than usual, you might have a little bit more space, maybe there’s an opportunity to do something about it. The loader operator and the truck driver looking at the same information are forced to have a conversation. So the first thing they do is they get on the radio and say “Hey, look, hang on a sec, I might be able to squeeze a little bit more in there.” And they do.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this Q&A coming out shortly!

Newtrax Deloitte Fast 500 2018

Newtrax Ranked Among Fastest Growing Companies in North America on Deloitte’s 2018 Technology Fast 500™

Newtrax Ranked Among Fastest Growing Companies in North America on Deloitte’s 2018 Technology Fast 500™

Newtrax Deloitte Fast 500

Montreal, Québec, November 15, 2018— Newtrax today announced it ranked 166 on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500™, a ranking of the 500 fastest growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences and energy tech companies in North America. Newtrax grew 600% percent during this period.

Newtrax’s chief executive officer, Alexandre Cervinka credits the quality of the people in the Newtrax team and their passion for closing the digital divide between surface and underground operations with the company’s 600% revenue growth. He said, “The underground mining industry will be experiencing a seismic shift in the next few years, with the adoption of the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence to optimize their processes. It’s exciting to be part of this revolution. ”

“Congratulations to the Deloitte 2018 Technology Fast 500 winners on this impressive achievement,” said Sandra Shirai, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP, and U.S. technology, media and telecommunications leader. “These companies are innovators who have converted their disruptive ideas into products, services and experiences that can captivate new customers and drive remarkable growth.”

“Software, which accounts for nearly two of every three companies on the list, continues to produce some of the most exciting technologies of the 21st century, including innovations in artificial intelligence, predictive analytics and robotics,” said Mohana Dissanayake, partner, Deloitte & Touche LLP, and Industry Leader for technology, media and telecommunications, within Deloitte’s audit and assurance practice. “This year’s ranking demonstrates what is likely a national phenomenon, where many companies from all parts of America are transforming the way we do business by combining breakthrough research and development, entrepreneurship and rapid growth.”

Overall, 2018 Technology Fast 500™ companies achieved revenue growth ranging from 143 percent to 77,260 percent from 2014 to 2017, with median growth of 412 percent.

About Deloitte’s 2018 Technology Fast 500™

Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 provides a ranking of the fastest growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences and energy tech companies — both public and private — in North America. Technology Fast 500 award winners are selected based on percentage fiscal year revenue growth from 2014 to 2017.

In order to be eligible for Technology Fast 500 recognition, companies must own proprietary intellectual property or technology that is sold to customers in products that contribute to a majority of the company’s operating revenues. Companies must have base-year operating revenues of at least $50,000 USD, and current-year operating revenues of at least $5 million USD. Additionally, companies must be in business for a minimum of four years and be headquartered within North America.

About Deloitte

Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee (“DTTL”), its network of member firms, and their related entities. DTTL and each of its member firms are legally separate and independent entities. DTTL (also referred to as “Deloitte Global”) does not provide services to clients. In the United States, Deloitte refers to one or more of the US member firms of DTTL, their related entities that operate using the “Deloitte” name in the United States and their respective affiliates. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting. Please see www.deloitte.com/about to learn more about our global network of member firms.

# # #

Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) awards Newtrax Collision avoidance patent

Newtrax Technologies Inc. awarded Canadian Patent for Collision Avoidance & Proximity Detection

Newtrax Technologies Inc. awarded Canadian Patent for Collision Avoidance & Proximity Detection

Montreal, QC – November 14, 2018 — The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) awarded Newtrax Technologies Inc., the leading provider of wireless Internet-of-Things (IoT) systems to the global underground metal mining industry, Patent No. 2,887,511  for “Context-Aware Collision Avoidance Devices and Collision Avoidance System”. The company’s patents on the invention date back to 2013.

Newtrax’s flagship MineProx proximity detection system which is deployed on all continents is based on this patented technology which was specifically developed to reduce the risk of collisions between machines and pedestrians in underground hard rock mechanized mines.

Unique features protected by this patent which was also filed internationally include:

  • Use of emergency buttons on cap lamps to request emergency stops from operators
  • Detection of unconscious worker to automatically request emergency stops from operators
  • Filtering of nuisance alarms based on status of cap lamps
  • Filtering of nuisance alarms based on status of equipment
  • Start of shift system integrity monitoring process

“Newtrax invests significant amounts in R&D every year to remain the market leader and filing for patents is part of our strategy to protect our investments.” said Alexandre Cervinka, President & CEO of Newtrax Technologies Inc.

Newtrax’s current portfolio of global patents and patents pending include several innovations specific to safety and productivity management in underground hard rock mines.

Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) awards Newtrax Collision avoidance patent
Mines & Technology 2017 Toronto

Newtrax is Presenting at Mines & Technology 2018 in Toronto

Newtrax is Presenting at Mines & Technology Toronto 2018

Newtrax will be attending the Mines and Technology conference in Toronto on October 16 2018. As Silver Sponsors, we are excited to be supporting this essential platform where coveted speakers from all around the world are gathering to share their latest projects and ideas for the mining industry.

Newtrax will be speaking on October 16 at 14:15 -on the topic of “Artificial Intelligence Using Real-Time Data”.

We will also be taking one-on-one meeting requests for those who are interested in learning more about how Newtrax helps mines achieve their digitization goals with the latest Internet-of-Things (IoT) and analytics technologies.

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.

***

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.

Australia Mining

Australian Underground Mines Leading in Technology?

Australian Underground Mines Leading in Technology?

Australia Mining

Australia is known to harbor and promote an expansive mining industry. Due to its vast remoteness in much of the country and its devotion to working inclusively with aboriginal groups, the country has successfully exploited its mineral resources.

Because of this booming industry in Australia, many of the leading open-pit mining software and technology companies are based in the country. Not only is it a safe jurisdiction to mine in, Australia is also known as a business-friendly place for creative disruptors of technology within the industry. Now, with the presence of Newtrax, underground mining in Australia now has specific IoT solutions available to them with a team familiar to the region.

Simon Waghorn came to Newtrax in September of 2017 as the Regional Vice President for the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region which includes the former Soviet-Union to the Pacific Islands; Australia and New Zealand. Throughout his 25-year career in mining and industry technology, Simon gained knowledge in Operational Technology based solutions.

Simon was enticed to join the Newtrax team because of the little underground technology available. He found Newtrax technology to be innovative and in high demand. On top of that, he knew the management team was vibrant enough to make technology work in underground mines.

Simon has a focus on Australia, a major mining country, who is ahead of the curve in technology across the world.

“In Australia there is a significant uptake or at least a level of interest of these types of technologies and the value that they can deliver. We are seeing that from the Tier 1 players in the market, as well as the Tier 2 players predominantly in gold and copper. They are typically the leaders of these types of technologies.” says Simon.

Simon Waghorn
Simon Waghorn, VP APAC, Newtrax

The foundation of underground mining technologies does have roots from its open-pit neighbours. Technology in the open-pit has been advancing and adopted for quite a significant period of time. There has been a drive to try and push as much technology coming out of other industries into the open-pit with communications such as Wifi and LTE along with production software and asset management programs.

“Generically, those have been very successful and have added another level of professionalism to the open-pit. Saying that, it has become quite crowded in terms of the technologies that are there. Some big players have taken up major shares of those markets. In the underground mining technologies, however, there was very little,” he said.

In 2016 Newtrax placed its mark in underground mining technologies with the acquisition of the mining division of ISAAC Instruments Inc. From that moment, Newtrax became the world leader in Underground Mobile Equipment Telemetry.

Currently, in Australia, the Newtrax Mobile Equipment Telemetry (MET) system is being deployed in mines where fleets include different OEMs in order for the data of these mixed fleets to be collected and analyzed in one place. This MET system makes it easier and more cost efficient for mining companies to manage diversified equipment productivity.

For example, Simon and his Newtrax team are currently conducting a trial of this technology in a large block cave Australian mine. The mine site has a fleet of Sandvik loaders and a fleet of Caterpillar loaders. With the MET data loggers, the operational requirements of these loaders are the same. Now, with Newtrax, the same data can be collected from each fleet, put into a single database, and compared. This can contribute tremendously to operational optimizations, productivity,  detection of defects, and unplanned maintenance mine-wide.

Before the deployment of the MET system, the amount of data captured was limited. Operators would call into management and report where the truck was and what it was doing. Now, with the Newtrax Mobile Equipment Telemetry system, the operators are able to locate their vehicles directly on their screens, saving them a lot of time and cutting down tremendous costs.

These are only a few examples of how IoT systems can deliver value to the underground mining sector by increasing productivity and making the work environment safer.

Australia seems to be embracing this paradigm shift and is well-positioned to reap the benefits of being an early adopter of technologies that can make underground mines safer, more productive, and more environmentally friendly.

Newtrax europe and Middle East

Newtrax heads to Europe and the Middle East with the help of Charlie Forrest

Newtrax heads to Europe and the Middle East with the help of Charlie Forrest

Newtrax europe and Middle East

After 15 years of implementing technology solutions in various mining operations to improve productivity and safety underground, Charlie Forrest found himself a new position with Newtrax Technologies.

As the new VP of Europe and the Middle East for Newtrax, Charlie Forrest, talks about his focus on the mines in this area. “They want to improve, but they are just starting to look at digitization.” The opportunities for implementing innovative technology in mining in this new region are to instill safety and productivity by finding out where to cut down on costs and how to prevent accidents – digitally.

“Many of the mines in the area are looking at vehicle telemetry and payload as opportunities for technology in their mines,” he said. “Most countries are looking for a whole portfolio of solutions, but while gas monitoring and geotechnical monitoring is important, the main thing we can provide to these operations is our Mobile Equipment Telemetry (MET) systems.”

Newtrax Mobile Equipment Telemetry (MET) solutions gather data from mining equipment to gauge how each piece of this equipment is operating. The data collected will inform European & Middle Eastern mining companies how efficiently and effectively the equipment is currently being used. The ultimate goal is to increase productivity which will positively impact the bottom line by using the underground equipment in the most optimized way possible.

Scandinavian companies have already started adopting new technologies in underground mining, as they seem to be culturally less risk-averse than surrounding countries. The early adoption of LTE in Sweden and Finland is a good indicator that the trends in wireless networking will be doing towards that direction

Charlie Forrest
Charlie Forrest

IoT Challenges in the Region

Europe and the Middle East have many opportunities to improve when it comes to data acquisition from their underground mines. Charlie admits that implementing technology in countries that are behind on innovation can be difficult to achieve due to cultural sensitivities. Companies like Newtrax need to be present locally to better understand how each unique country perceives technology adoption and what their preferred course of action may be.

“It is all commodity driven in these areas right now,” said Charlie. “Turkey has quite a lot of gold and gold mines right now. Serbia is also opening up a number of mines. Multinational mining companies, like Rio Tinto, are also looking into the area to open operations. But, fortunately, Newtrax is active with many of these mines which makes working in a diversified region a bit easier.”

Taking highly technical equipment into different areas of the world can be a challenge as well. For instance, when equipment goes into Europe, it must be certified. There needs to be a CE sticker that goes on each safety device heading into the region. This is required to ensure the products being sold in the European Economic Area are within conformity of health, safety, and environmental protection standards. Newtrax is working closely with these mining companies to make sure all products conform to each country’s regulations and comply with all requirements needed to be safely deployed.

A Culture of Success in the Region

One of the first successes using technology in mining was the “Taking the Lid off” plan at Chelopech in Bulgaria. This project involved a wireless communications network that covered almost the entire mine. The network allowed the supervisors to plan up to three months in advance with detailed tasks to be completed. The managers sent the tasks to the operators through the wireless network which was received on a tablet. The equipment was tracked using tags inside cap lamps or vehicles. This way the supervisor could locate the operator.

Dundee Precious Metals CEO, Rick Howes, wrote in a 2016 press release, “Using wireless technologies for communications and location tracking, along with smart connected equipment and sensors, we now have the ability to see past rock to what is happening in real-time throughout the mine. This allows for far better decisions to be made about the use of resources to achieve our goal of safe and cost-effective production.

Although risks had to be taken to make these advances, they pale in comparison to the many other risks that mining faces as we operate in remote and undeveloped regions of the world. We’ve done so because we believe we need to in order to remain a step ahead.”

“Taking the Lid Off” was a big success years ago for the implementation of technology in mines. Forrest, a co-author of the industry-famous white paper of the project, mentioned it planted the seed globally for innovation but, still today, there are mines not using this proven technology.

Forrest is currently visiting and conducting demos in underground mines throughout Europe and the Middle East. The opportunities in that region are vast, and if there’s one person who is best-equipped to tackle the unique challenge of that market, it’s Charlie Forrest.

Stay tuned for our next blog post on the unique challenges and opportunities of the Africa region.