As mining ventures deeper into exploring resources in hard-to-access areas with harsh environments, maintaining productivity and worker efficiencies in the face of also increasingly expensive projects are a challenge. Heightened sensitivity to environmental needs, as well as unprecedented cost volatility and regulatory oversight requires more sophisticated solutions and systems used to keep operations running smoothly. Digital technologies have emerged as the right solution to create a platform for the level of innovation and collaboration required for managing expectations.
Our solutions focus on four major usage scenarios: integrated platform, connected workers, remote operation center, and instant communications. By bringing together data from on-field physical assets and enabling off-field remote and virtual access, mining companies can improve their ability to analyze real-time information, augment their digital capacities and create platforms to integrate their data, analytics and workflows.
Our Sophisticated Automations
The use of communications technology in the mining industry can be divided into three main areas: automation; in-pit mobility; and data centric analytics. The digital communications technology we carry are widely seen as having a major role to play in helping to simplify processes, reduce risks, cut costs and improve margins.
The list of features and processes that can benefit from communications technology and automation in mining is now impressively long. Applications include:
- In-pit autonomous haulage systems;
- Autonomous drill systems;
- Push-to-talk voice and push-to-talk video and dispatch systems;
- Driverless freight train control;
- Anti-collision systems;
- In-pit proximity detection;
- High-precision GPS applications such as geo-fencing;
- Slope monitoring and rockface/ground penetrating radar.
Other applications in use are: vehicle, machinery and drill/excavator fleet management and telemetry (e.g. scheduling/task assignments, guidance/positioning, equipment problem identification/avoidance, remote diagnostics, speed, tire pressure, temperature, fuel/oil/brake fluid levels, load measurement, GPS-based precision excavating); SCADA systems and sensors; dust suppression using automated sprinklers, control valves and a wireless control system; and applications for field force automation.
Workforce Safety Solutions
Modern technologies used in mining can actively support real-time monitoring of people, machinery, and mine conditions. Constant two-way communication systems are a necessity that allows miners, support groups and control rooms to be in continuous contact.
Safety is one of the main areas where communications technology can really improve accident rates and save lives. Poor safety compliance can lead to stoppages that directly impact operational production and profitability, while worker compensation packages and regulatory fines can end up being more expensive than the cost of prevention.
A wide range of safety tools are now available for use in mining. Modern technology can support active, real-time surveillance of people, machinery and mine conditions, including air quality and tunnel, slope stability. Constant two-way communications systems are a must to enable miners, support teams and control rooms to be in continuous contact.
What is Intrinsic Safety?
Intrinsic safety (IS) is a protection technique for safe operation of electrical equipment in hazardous areas by limiting the energy, electrical and thermal, available for ignition. Areas with dangerous concentrations of flammable gases or dust are found in applications such as petrochemical refineries and mines. As a discipline, it is an application of inherent safety in instrumentation. High-power circuits such as electric motors or lighting cannot use intrinsic safety methods for protection. All the radios, audio accessories and third party sensors that integrate with Expert Mobile's oil and gas solutions are IS certified to meet the safety requirements of a working environment.
Data Analytics Solutions
The basic building blocks for mining digitization is to invest in a unified communications platform capable of providing fast broadband speeds and supporting multiple data, voice and video applications. Analyzing data connected to this platform helps managers in decision making to maximize efficiency, productivity, safety and profitability.
Mining companies also need to harness Big Data analytics to provide “real, applicable insights from data and sharing them clearly and effectively with the right levels of the organization”, as this will help “provide real-time decision support and future projections”, argues the WEF report.
Big data and predictive analytics not only provide a competitive advantage by enabling faster and more accurate decision making, but they also help to minimize unplanned downtime by ensuring timely maintenance of vehicles, excavators, drills and other assets before a major machine failure that could hold up production.