Tag Archives: machine learning

AI helping underground mines

AI Myths in Mining

AI in Mining: Myths and Facts

AI helping underground mines

Can Artificial Intelligence be applied in the underground mining sector? Or is it a myth?

Maybe because it’s so new, and for so long has been in the realm of science-fiction, but Artificial Intelligence is surrounded by a number of myths. So too is Machine Learning, AI’s little sibling.  

But it shouldn’t be the realm of myth. AI may seem intimidating, but it won’t take over your mine. In the contrary, efficiency is what AI and ML target so that operations are optimized.

To help bust some of those myths, we’ve put together a guide to address some of what you may have heard about Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, and where reality truly exists. 

Myth: Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence require huge investments only big corporations can make.

Fact: In underground hard rock mines, it’s easy to pick up quick wins on small projects. AI can do things as simple as sifting through the maintenance data you already have to help predict when haulage trucks will break down. 

Myth: AI and ML will replace all the people in your operation with algorithms

Fact: The technology doesn’t replace people at all. What it does is enhance workers’ ability to do their jobs with better information. Read our blog about ML algorithms do just that! 

AI improving Underground Hard Rock Mining operations

Myth: Working with AI is like working with a sentient person.

Fact: AI and ML algorithms are far, far away from human-like consciousness. There are ways in which algorithms are able to mimic some particular, narrow functions of the human brain. For example, they can play and learn to excel at games like chess or GO. But an algorithm designed for chess is never going to be able to have a conversation with you, and a conversational robot isn’t going to play chess. AI-driven technologies are designed to perform specialized tasks. And even if they can sound human, and can learn certain human thinking patterns, they aren’t nearly at the stage of full blown sentience.  

Myth: Machine Learning can work with any quality of data without problems.

Fact: While ML algorithms can work well with data that includes a lot of noise, there is a limit. If data is of poor quality, no matter how sophisticated the algorithm, it can’t be used. You can have mountains of data that is missing key information. Consider a mountain of data from a fleet of trucks, but the data is missing a timestamp—so the algorithm doesn’t know what day or time the data is from. Or maybe the data doesn’t identify what sensor it’s from—is it transmission temperature, or tire pressure? Automatically collected data by machines also tends to be more reliable than data manually entered by humans, particularly if it’s been over a long period. 

Myth: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are dangerous.

Fact: Like any other piece of technology, AI is fallible. When using AI—or any technology—you should do so with a healthy skepticism. It’s important to counter-verify anything output from an AI or ML system. Like with any other new technology, you should make sure there is a person in the loop of the system. Not only will you prevent errors, but you will enhance that person’s ability to do their job. It has the added benefit of removing the repetitive, perhaps boring, tasks from many jobs, leaving the more interesting, in-depth analytical tasks for the user. 

Myth: Machine Learning is perfectly objective.

Fact: There are many ways bias can find its way into Machine Learning. Classic ML techniques rely on the engineering that created them. And the biases of the people that built those algorithms can shape and bias the system’s output. On the Deep Learning side of ML, data is given to the algorithm in the rawest possible form. In that case, the system can only be as objective as the data it is given. Any information given to an ML system by a person is subject to the biases of that person. The algorithms learn from what they are given. 

CIM addressed the power and pitfalls of predictive algorithms applied to mining last year through this article – an interesting read for more perspective.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Help Underground Mines Improve

Artificial Intelligence is the Next Frontier of Improving Underground Mining Operations

Artificial Intelligence is the Next Frontier of Improving Underground Mining Operations

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Help Underground Mines Improve

What is Artificial Intelligence to Mining?

Artificial intelligence IS the next frontier of improving underground mining operations. But, we’re not talking about turning your mine into a hive of drones. This isn’t about upending your operations. Machine learning (ML) algorithms pull out patterns in data collected around your mine and fleet to predict problems before they occur. This vastly improves the efficiency of your mine.

"What machine learning algorithms do is pull out patterns in data collected... to help predict problems before they occur..."

At Agnico Eagle’s Goldex Mine near Val d’Or, Que., they’re saving on maintenance costs for the engines of their haulage trucks. This is thanks to the predictive analysis made using their historical data collected by Newtrax and applied to ML algorithms.

The maintenance team at Goldex discovered that their truck engines were sometimes failing, a lot earlier than expected. The team had suspicions on what was causing the problem and were alerted by the Newtrax Mobile Equipment Telemetry (MET) system. This provided them with a good indication. However, by using ML, we were able to sift through the data collected from the truck’s engine sensors far more quickly. We were able to pick out the patterns of what was happening with confidence resulting in faster time to action.

“[Newtrax] developed a system that enables us to predict issues at least two weeks in advance, even before the alarms, so we can intervene before we incur problems that break our engines,” Agnico's Daniel Pinard says.

Rather than spending $100,000 to replace an engine, they only had to spend about a quarter of that to make the necessary repairs. And at the same time were able to leave the truck in production, where it moves about 500 tonnes of material a shift.

This is what AI is all about. Finding small, manageable solutions that save costs and optimize processes.. Newtrax combined its in-house advanced ML expertise with the client’s data to achieve quick wins.

Read our previous article on how AI also improves Safety, Productivity and Profitability.

Machine Learning Intern explains ML algorithm in meeting on whiteboard for Underground mining

Newtrax AI Intern Léo Boisvert explains an algorithm to team members.

"It's not just engine failures that machine learning algorithms can predict in advance, it can see failure in smaller components, too."

It’s not just engine failures that machine learning algorithms can predict in advance! ML can see failure patterns in smaller components, too. Take batteries, as an example. Typically during normal usage, a battery puts out a precise voltage that holds steady for its entire life. But as a battery ages, and approaches failure, subtle variations start to appear.

Newtrax engineer Louis-Pierre Campeau saw the algorithm was picking up a change in the output. When he looked at it, and said, “Well, it’s 26.7 Volts, and it was 26.7 before so it’s okay.” But the algorithm was saying there was a problem.

“Then looking deeper, the average was 26.752, and afterward it was 26.716,” Campeau says. “It’s a very small change you just couldn’t pick up by looking at it.”

"This is the REAL power of machine learning. A single person isn't able to look at all the data... but an algorithm can..."

This is what he says is the real power of machine learning. A single person isn’t able to look at all the data for the different measurements given off by a fleet of vehicles. But an algorithm can, and it’s able to draw connections of things a person isn’t likely to even see as related.

“Sometimes there are too many factors put together that you can’t really look at as a whole,” Campeau says. “If one measure goes up while another goes down, at this average and the temperature is going down. There’s a certain limit of information you can process out simultaneously.”

"Newtrax has a large collection of anonymized data..."

What Newtrax brings is a focus on underground mining. You won’t be a client with a company that’s adapting their algorithms for the train yard to fit the underground environment. Newtrax has a large collection of anonymized data from our client base of underground mining companies. We’re able to draw on right from the start, Campeau says.

“Each mine is part of the large pool of clients we have, and can use all of these insights we get from our previous experience to apply it right away,” he says. “Rather than having to figure out everything from scratch.”

"You may not have seen your LHD's in every possible situation, but there's a good chance we have, and can pull patterns from it right when we start."

We’re able to draw on a large database collected from a number of different mines, that gives us a huge wealth of real-world data to train our algorithms. You may not have seen your LHD’s in every possible situation, but there’s a good chance we have, and can pull patterns from it right when we start.

We recommend reading ‘Live to learn – The Future of Mining Innovation’ by Mining Magazine to further explore the value of AI and Machine Learning.

For more information on Newtrax successes at Goldex, you can read this case study:

Data collection mining

How Data Collection and AI Will Change The Future of Mine Safety and Profitability

How Data Collection and AI Will Change The Future of Mine Safety and Profitability

Data collection mining

1.  Safety in Mines

Data collection and analysis, especially with the availability of AI algorithms, makes it easier to foresee possible risks that can arise in underground mines, and prevent them.  Predictive maintenance would be the best example of this. 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

Productivity in mines is lower than in other industries, and 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. Data collection and analysis however, 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.

— Download the Slide Deck to Learn How Use AI on Mining Data To Create Value In Less Than 3 Months —

Download the AI Slide Deck To Learn More

This AI Slide Deck prepared by Newtrax VP of Artificial Intelligence, Michel Dubois, shows how to create value with data collected in underground mines using Artificial Intelligence algorithms.

3. Data collection for Mining

Mines have started digitalizing their fleets and collecting data.  This is where data contextualization comes in. Through the fleet and network agnostic systems at Newtrax for example, the data collected can be connected and contextualized.  Being able to have the full context of any piece of data will bring more possibilities and using trends and algorithms trained by multiple mines can help 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.

Newtrax Technology Enabled, IoT AI

How to Calculate ROI for IoT and AI Solutions in Underground Mining

How to Calculate ROI for IoT and AI Solutions in Underground Mining

Newtrax Technology Enabled, IoT AI

What value can a mine expect to receive from the costs associated with IoT and AI solutions? How does a company like Newtrax calculate this ROI prior to adding a thorough analysis of current data streams from the mine?

To help answer this question, we turn to Guy Gosselin, Subject Matter Expert (SME) at Newtrax to help describe his approach to ROI.

“You need to have a really good understanding of the mining process and how it functions underground. It’s important to fully understand the mine planning because everything is related.” says Gosselin.

Any company will see a return on investment all throughout their mine when digitizing their fleet and incorporating safety technology.  Some of the main areas that Newtrax can calculate tangible ROI are through:

1) Improved Processes

2) Improved Safety delivers production

3) Improved Maintenance Practices

Newtrax Technology Enabled, IoT, AI

Improving Processes Deliver large ROI

Gosselin provides a great example of an ROI calculation that was related to production drilling. ‘’We demonstrated that by getting just 10 more minutes of active drilling per shift per drill could increase net revenue by more than 1.2 million dollars a year” reflected Gosselin. These ten minutes can be easily added to each drill site by minimizing the need to access and leave the work site at the beginning and end of each shift, or by optimizing drill patterns which reduce the set up time.

Another example of ROI was calculated on the haulage process. By cutting off 60 seconds per trip for each truck (only 2 trucks were used in this calculation) there is also a potential savings of over 1 million dollars per year. An example of opportunity for cost-saving on-site is where an access loading point was cut at 90 degrees and each truck was taking 20-30 seconds on arrival and departure, wasting 1 minute per cycle per truck. Improving this represents a huge ROI over the span of a year. Many truck drivers may say their load appears full, but if there is an opportunity to improve that load with more weight within the truck’s full capacity, this will continue to add value to the investment.   

Improved Safety delivers production ROI

ROI from Newtrax proximity detection solutions, despite being a bit less obvious, can also be effectively established. The main priority of proximity detection is improving safety for both workers and equipment. This same system designed for improved safety adds production value in its inclusion of a right-of-way prioritization for ore loaded equipment.

By improving the number of loaded trips each truck makes throughout the day, in correlation with its optimized payload of ore, the ROI of Newtrax proximity detection systems can also be established.

Most importantly, by mitigating any downtime and improving safety standards with proximity detection solutions from Newtrax, costs associated with mine operations stoppage can also be lessened, leading to more efficient shifts.

Graph representing the monitoring of the Caterpillar AD45 engine condition
Graph representing the monitoring of the Caterpillar AD45 engine condition

ROI for improved maintenance Practices

IoT and AI solutions provide the most easily quantifiable ROI with countless cases demonstrating clear cost savings with preventative maintenance practices.

Louis-Pierre Campeau, Research Engineer in machine learning presented a case where Newtrax sensors detected a shift in a Caterpillar AD45 truck engine condition allowing us to notify the mine that something was wrong. They found a faulty bearing, probably from manufacturing which is hard to predict and could have gone without notice otherwise. Catching the issue in the engine ended up costing only a few hours of the mechanics time and $5,000 for the bearing instead of what could have represented over $100,000 for the engine as well as a far greater loss in production time.

Every mining operation is different, therefore calculating ROI needs to be determined case by case. Even two mines utilizing the same mining method would have different variables to calculate what their ROI would be.  A competitive strength of Newtrax is having a company filled with personnel from both product engineering and mine engineering, people like Guy who are very familiar with mining operations and know how to study the mine to find opportunities for improvement and relay those to the Newtrax product teams.

Guy Gosselin was able to estimate costs associated with a truck engine fail in the middle of a shift for a specific mine. It turns out that with conservative estimates, depending on where the equipment breaks, it can cost an average of 50 000$ dollars in production loss and as much as 82 000$ in the worst case scenario. A real case study performed by Guy showed a truck experiencing a major failure in the only access road of an underground unloading point. This resulted in all of the other trucks having to go to the surface to unload, which increased wasted time threefold (x3). The mine lost ⅔ of the planned production during the period of time needed to clear the access.  

When wondering what adding IoT and AI services to your mine’s digital roadmap will offer, consider the benefits of being able to track and maintain performance, keeping your mine safe and having the ability to anticipate and handle machine failures. The added value can extend to shift plan optimization and using the collected data for targeted strategies. Contact a Newtrax expert to find out how we can work with you to achieve your goals.  

[Video] Newtrax Helps Casa Berardi Mine Exceed Production Objectives by 4% in 2018

VIDEO: Newtrax Helps Casa Berardi Mine Exceed Production Objectives by 4% in 2018

Hecla Casa Berardi, an underground gold mine in western Quebec, has engaged Newtrax to integrate its OEM-agnostic mobile equipment telemetry system (MET), delivering some major results through the data.

The gold mine has focused its digital transformation on a few key areas, including autonomous vehicles and mobile equipment telemetry, to better manage machine downtime and operator abuse. Some key improvements to the mine include:

1) Increased operating times

2) Reduced maintenance costs

Increased operating times

Since implementing the Newtrax MET system, the Casa Berardi mine has been able to quantify an increase of an hour per day of operations, meaning as much as 30 minutes per shift.  Prior to their telemetry project with Newtrax which started in 2017, they would have to wait days before addressing intermittent equipment issues.  With real-time equipment diagnostics, the technicians in the control room can connect directly to the computer of the machine and can complete an immediate diagnosis by comparing it to other machines in operation.

Reduced maintenance costs

“One of the types of data we were looking at was transmission abuse, and we started seeing that some operators did not know why they were causing these alarms,” said Sonny Melancon, Control Room Operator at Hecla Casa Berardi, “The operators were trained and the change in practices have resulted in hardly having any transmission abuse at all. There has been a decrease of 50%.” After 9 months the mine is saving 7.8% in maintenance costs per ton of material hauled.

Mobile Equipment Telemetry is just one aspect of what can be a full and complete digital integration. Contact us to find out how we can work with your KPIs to plan your custom integration.

How Newtrax can help your journey with AI in Mining

How Newtrax can help your journey with AI in Mining

Image courtesy of Mining Magazine, "Live and Learn" article by Carly Leonida.

Michel Dubois, Vice President AI for Newtrax has been making waves in Artificial Intelligence for the mining industry.  He will be speaking in Quebec City about real-time data validation through artificial intelligence in underground mines.

When:             Wednedsay, November 21, 2018

Where:            Centre des Congrès room 306-B

Time:               2:50 PM

The Quebec Mines and Energy conference is an exciting platform for industry professionals to come and learn about AI in mining.  It’s an emerging topic, getting a lot of attention as the market is adopting technologies to improve safety and processes for the future of the industry.

The following is an excerpt from Mining Magazine called “Live to Learn” by Carly Leonida, Mining Magazine Editor on why machine learning and predictive analytics are so important to the mining industry. Carly explores algorithms, quality data, where to start and lessons to learn.

“Another company making waves in the machine-learning space is Canada-based Newtrax Technologies. The firm is developing an expertise in data quality for machine learning (specifically for underground mining) to improve predictive maintenance and shift optimisation with techniques for detecting and measuring problems with unstable input variables like sensor failures, data integrity, conflicting data, biased data, sparsity, business conformity, outliers, high cardinality, or out-of-order and out-of-date data.

Michel Dubois, vice president of QA at the company, and his team believe that one of the main lessons that miners could learn from other industries is about the value of collecting quality data for training machine-learning algorithms.

“We have seen many other industries, like the internet companies for example, where data collection started much earlier, build enormous value out of the information collected through time. By starting data collection now, miners are building up value for tomorrow,” he says.

Newtrax’s solutions collect data across customers’ underground operations using an IoT-enabled sensor network to create what it calls “an underground mining nervous system“. This includes measuring KPIs in real time for drills, trucks, bolters and LHDs with coverage all the way to the face and without the need for operator input. This passive method of data collection enables the identification of productivity bottlenecks and early warnings for safety, health and environmental hazards. The power of machine learning lies in connecting real-time data from vehicles, personnel and the underground environment. Customers host their data in a Newtrax server on their premises before passing it to Newtrax for processing.

Dubois, who is currently studying data quality for machine learning as part of his PhD in engineering, explains: “Scalability and precision [in machine learning] depend mostly on computing power and quality of data since a large number of algorithms are shared publicly. Also, it is common to hear in the machine-learning industry that 75% of the effort involved in a project is spent on data gathering, cleaning and transformation (the remainder effort is spent on algorithms and infrastructure). That is why Newtrax has decided to specialise in data quality for machine learning.”

Since March 2017, Newtrax has been working with the Institute for Data Valorisation (IVADO), Canada’s largest researcher consortium in data science, artificial intelligence and operations research. Their combined focus is on machine-learning pilot projects for underground mines using open-source algorithms.

Louis-Pierre Campeau, research engineer at Newtrax, explains: “Newtrax has constant interactions with IVADO. For example, one project that we are currently working on with Professor Samuel Bassetto is about the visualisation of complex data to help understand trends and logics in apparently random data.

“An example of an application of this is in predictive maintenance where, given the input of a hundred sensors, we are trying to find out signs of defects in different mechanical parts. This kind of project helps us figure out which sensor combinations are more indicative of the different possible failures, so that machine-learning algorithms can predict more types of vehicle failures.”

Another key area of research for Newtrax lies in harnessing the benefits of machine learning for short- to long-term planning at underground operations.

Campeau is leading the project. “The mathematical model for underground mining that I have developed during my PhD studies provides the tools for optimisation of mine planning given fixed inputs,” he explains. “The combination of machine-learning techniques with such a model will allow for a greater precision and reliability in these fixed assumptions.”

“For example, say that a round has to be drilled in the next shift in a given ramp. A fixed assumption could be to plan for the drilling activity to last the average drilling time of 3.5 hours. Machine-learning techniques on the other hand could use information like the level of experience of the miner drilling the round or the rock conditions in the area to predict that the drilling will actually last closer to five hours. In turn, this prediction could be used to optimise the whole planning accordingly.”

To read the rest of the article click here. Be sure to sign up to Mining Magazine for the relevant news for the mining industry!

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.

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.