The Role of Telemetry in Developing Big Data and Pushing AI in the Mining Industry

Telemetry Big Data in Mining

Over the past 15 years, the mining industry has seen exponential growth in its technological advancements. One area of growth, in particular, is the use of telemetry. This technology allows mines to record and store real-time data that can be used for precise analytics and to develop operational algorithms. Though this technology has great potential to innovate mining, it is up to the industry to utilize this data to be able to increase productivity and profit.

This past week we spoke with two leading professionals in the fields of telemetry and artificial intelligence (AI).

George Cervinka is the Executive Advisor of Technological Strategies at Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital. Alan Capes is the Former Director of Business Development and Strategy in Technology at Canadian National Railway. Though neither of these experts have previous mining experience, their knowledge in the fields of telemetry, big data, and AI is expansive. Our meeting gave us great insight into the steps that need to be taken to advance our technologies and implement them in day-to-day activity.

— The Importance of an Innovative Partner —

Both Cervinka and Capes made sure to reiterate throughout the conversation that in order to take telemetry data to the next level, it is important to find “innovative partners.” These organizations help a business take the big data they have gathered and turn it into real analytics that can be used to understand operations.

Capes explained, “Telemetry lends itself to very large sums of data.  And a lot of places are not equipped to handle that much data. That is the real challenge.”

Cervinka said, “Big data is a big asset.” He went on to explain that you must know how to process that data to make it accessible and informative. It can be near impossible for a single operating mine to collect, store, and analyze telemetry data on their own. However, by inviting an innovative partner into the picture, they can begin to comprehensively analyze data and translate it into potential improvements in productivity and operations.

— Telemetry and AI —

There are many people who are fast to jump to conclusions when it comes to AI advancements.  Some people claim that we are decades away from the AI revolution while others say overarching AI automation is imminent.

Capes and Cervinka were in agreement that despite having seen leaps and bounds within AI technological innovations, there is still much work to be done. Capes said, “You can’t just jump into AI. AI is based on big data and big data is based on telemetry, so there is a path.” To reach the point of being able to understand and learn from AI, we must first have a good understanding of telemetry and the data that is produced from it.

This also means employing data scientists and having a team of technological professionals who are able to interpret the gathered data. This is necessary to build the analytics technology and teach AI algorithms.

Cervinka: “[AI technologies] have had dramatic progress in just the past 5-10 years.  The problem is how we create value from what they have.” This means that our technological capabilities are already developed, it is up to the industry to implement these technologies so they can start gathering the data that will result in a true AI revolution in mining.

— Cultural Transition —

For many generations, the mining industry has been famously risk-averse, and this aversion has classically extended to technological advancements. Upon further investigation, it is clear that the underlying issue originates from the technology companies themselves.
When trying to break into any industry it takes strong, industry-specific, marketing skills. In mining, this means showing the customer what the ROI will equate to in terms of productivity and financial gains. Once a business can see the lasting benefits of implementing cutting-edge telemetry technologies, they will be more willing to invest their time and money into a product.   

It is up to companies like Newtrax to show customers the true value of investing in technology.  This will help individual mining companies increase productivity and operations while at the same time building a stronger network of data that will in turn help develop technological advancement throughout the industry.  

— Where AI in Mining will Come From —

In essence, artificial intelligence in mining is still in preliminary stages. The use of telemetry technology and the data from those instruments will play a crucial role in advancing the industries productive use and understanding of AI. The opportunity to use AI and machine learning to lower CAPEX while increasing productivity is present. To allow the industry as a whole to reach those innovative KPI’s, however, each producer will need to look towards creative partnerships in technology and big data to get there.