The mining industry has witnessed a lot of innovations in the last decade. The proper use of technology allows us to serve our clients in the best possible way.
The mining industry has witnessed a lot of innovations in the last decade. The rate of technology change is so high that every other mining project gets the opportunity of deploying new sets of tools and technology. Adopting these innovations has become imperative to enhance your mining process, boost efficiency and make the overall mining operations more safe, secure and reliable.
Change is the only constant, even for the mining sector. Starting from block mines to bamboo shaft mines to underground mines with rails, this sector has witnessed an evolution of epic proportions. Today, the innovations are not just focused on mining operations but also on additional tasks, including quality control, safety, logistics and a lot more.
Following are the top 8 innovations in Mining Industry:
1. Process Automation
Mining is a labour and resource-intensive job; simultaneously, high working risks are involved. Hence, mining organizations have been pushing a lot of innovations related to process automation. Advances in machine learning, AI and robotics have led to several developments which have been tried and implemented in mining tasks like excavation, material handling and even site inspections.
UAV drones capture visual data of mines, and unmanned robots in the form of small excavators are sent deep into the surface to collect vital data about the soil properties, mineral deposits and more. These data points help miners develop 3D models and plan more efficiently. In addition, mining vehicles are being converted into self-driving vehicles and used for material excavation and even for zero-entry worksites.
2. Wearable Technology
The advent of innovation in wearable technology is proving to be a boon for industrial mines. Wearable devices powered through augmented and virtual reality help the workers in training, guidance and data collection, especially in hazardous sites. IoT-enabled wearables such as helmets, verts, wristbands and more allow to track operator movements, monitor their health and ensure their well-being.
Wearable technology also assists in quicker maintenance, as workers can send data to the troubleshooting team irrespective of location. In addition, various innovations have been focused on enhancing the safety of the operators. For example, intelligent helmets capture all operational data and monitor the operators’ vital signs. Similarly, specific wearable devices help detect hazardous situations or predict accidents.
3. Internet of Things
There would hardly be any sector today which is not benefitting from the deployment of the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT helps in connecting machines to communicate with each other and create a highly conducive digital ecosystem allowing process improvement on a large scale. For example, miners can monitor all operations wings using digital sensors and smart devices. The data collected provides beneficial feedback as well.
Majority of innovations in IoT help in increasing mining efficiency. There are tools available to track asset and resource utilization. The health of equipment and even human resources can be tracked and better planned. Routine devices like mine lights can also be converted into intelligent machines that can help collect information related to temperature, pollution levels and other data points allowing miners to monitor operations remotely easily.
4. Artificial Intelligence
Startups worldwide are working hard to deploy disruptive technologies like machine learning and Natural Language Processing in various industrial processes, including mining. Collecting large data points allows them to formulate patterns and identify trends. This is fed into supercomputers which quickly understand the process and start predicting operations. This helps in making mining efficient and also mitigates risks.
By connecting most equipment with smart probes, AI can understand their working pattern, estimate wear and tear, and notify for periodic maintenance. This boosts the overall mining productivity and ensures minimum downtime. Another interesting use case is the utilization of heavy mining equipment. AI can help understand their operations and allow better asset utilization.
5. Virtual Modelling
In mining, the better the planning, the easier the execution. Hence innovations related to planning are given a lot of importance. Virtual modelling innovations are in demand big time because of this. 3Dvisualizationss and digital mapping solutions enable better mine data and conditions visibility. Even during operations, virtual modelling can improve asset monitoring which helps increase output and ensure safety.
Some startups offer SAAS solutions that capture real-time data from mines, give out beneficial insights to operators regarding mine health and equipment condition, and suggest a further course of action. Hazard identification is another area in which virtual modelling can be beneficial as it can use technology such as light detection, sonar and others to identify or predict operational risks.
6. Big Data Analytics
All the data collected from various inputs in the mining sector need to be analyzed to derive useful information from them. This is where big data analytics comes into play as it puts together all the data pieces and presents processed information that helps make better-informed business decisions. The dependence on big data analytics varies based on the scale of operations and digitization, but this technology has now become a must-have for mines.
When data is studied correctly, patterns and trends are identified, becoming important insights for more reliable and efficient operations. Predictive maintenance of assets is one way how this can be achieved. Big Data Analytics can also help in other mining tasks, such as streamlining supply chain management, managing logistics networks and understanding demand trends.
7. Additive Manufacturing
The equipment used in mining operations must be designed and made from specific materials to withstand stress and an aggressive working environment. This was a challenge leading to higher costs and lower availability. But with advancements in material science, equipment is manufactured with the best of the most appropriate materials for the site, thereby increasing operational productivity and reducing machine downtimes.
3D printing has been advantageous to the mining sector as it allows in-situ production of spare parts and other products needed for operations. This helps address urgent requirements and eliminates cost-intensive transportation and vendor dependency. Apart from 3D printers, many innovations have been deployed that help in large-scale additive manufacturing on-site to cater to various spare requirements.
Blockchain technology has been disrupting various sectors, including the mining sector. Many mining corporations are deploying blockchain to track multiple operations such as carbon emissions, material quality control, etc. In addition, precious mining products like diamonds are now being tracked using blockchain. This enables a very high amount of transparency.
Supply chain mechanics can be further streamlined using blockchain technology. Many startups are improving operations efficiency, logistics, project financing and capturing transactions using blockchain. Blockchain is a relatively new innovation that will soon have a wide application throughout the mining sector.
JLD Minerals has always been a big believer in leveraging the right technology to aid its operations. We have already stary deploying process automation, and, at the same time, we are utilizing big data analytics to understand market trends. In addition, various other innovations have been implemented, ensuring employee safety and proving to be highly effective in enhancing mine productivity. The proper use of technology allows us to serve our clients in the best possible way.