Mining & The Internet of Things (IoT): The Future Is Here
With nearly every industry in the world revolutionizing their operations management by implementing Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, the mining industry is cautiously following suit. Digitalization and innovations in the mining industry are connecting mining companies to the huge opportunities modern technology has created. Earth-moving IoT is drastically improving efficiency and management of operations. With these exciting advancements propelling the industry into a new horizon, now is the time to ask how IoT can be intricately utilized.
Ultimately, the question will always remain, is the adoption of such technologies worth the investment?
Newtrax a leader of this technological boom and is committed to ensuring that their customers have the ability to integrate IoT into daily use without the hassle of complex setup and management.
We recently conducted an interview with Alexandre Cervinka, Newtrax Founder and CEO, to hear how he believes IoT will impact the mining industry. More specifically, we discussed how it can help underground hard-rock mining advance productivity while saving companies invaluable time and money.
Q: Why is there a digital divide in technological advancements between open pit mines and underground mines?
A. Cervinka: Underground mines face many challenges that aren’t relevant in an open pit. Most notably, problems with network and GPS connectivity make integrating standard technologies difficult. Furthermore, there is a shortage of skilled workers because the majority of candidates would prefer to be working above ground.
I believe we will start seeing solutions being developed specifically for each type of mining environment. This individualized approach will allow us to address each issue separately and comprehensively, as the challenges faced in each mine are unique.
Q: How can IoT change the way underground mines view and handle operations management?
A. Cervinka: Before a mining company implements an IoT solution, it is as if they are working with a blindfold on. Technological advancements are able to open up a whole new realm of data collection where virtually all circumstances can be visualized. This clarity will enable companies to have more control over their working environment as well as their employees.
Q: What are some of the biggest opportunities you see in underground mining management that you believe could be fixed by integrating IoT?
A. Cervinka: The greatest benefits are in helping a company monitor its business in real time. This enables the company to be more aware of the ecological environment surrounding the mine. This includes observing the conditions in the ground, air, and water. Companies that integrate IoT are also able to better manage the machines and the miners working below ground.
This can all be achieved by integrating a combination of sensors with networking capabilities, a stable power supply, software to analyze the data, and an infrastructure to support it all. Having all this information on hand will help companies succeed and improve their operations management exponentially over time.
Q: How is the IoT useful to a mining business and will they see ROI?
A. Cervinka: For sure. There are multiple examples of this including:
- Cutting back downtime after a blast.
- Cutting down the time of evacuation drills.
- Ensuring safe conditions and mechanical placement.
- Cutting back on machinery downtime.
Q: How do you see AI taking IoT to the next level?
A. Cervinka: Once a company takes the first step of digitizing it will begin to collect huge amounts of data. Through utilizing these AI analytics, we can help humans figure out what is significant and applicable. Machines will be able to find correlations and will begin predicting events that in return will provide us with insights into situations and circumstances that we may not have seen on our own.
Q: What is coming up on the technological horizon that excites you the most within the industry?
A. Cervinka: First of all I love what we do. The people we work with are great. We travel the world and it’s an exciting industry. As far as technology is concerned, I think automation is compelling and watching the advancements globally is exciting.
With that being said, we have to walk before we run. The prospect of there no longer being miners below ground is an exciting future, but we just aren’t there today. We have to automate one step at a time and I think, here at Newtrax, we are helping our customers with solutions that they can implement now. We are helping them achieve results one year at a time that are solid and truly making improvements in the industry.