In light of the past weekend’s mining summit, the mining industry is in the spotlight this month, particularly how it can evolve and adopt Industry 4.0 technologies. The African mining industry has by no means had it easy the past couple of years. A decrease in commodity prices, lower incomes and an increase in production and energy costs are just some of the challenges faced daily.
Due to the abundant advantages it can unlock in production, most industries are eager to embrace smart technologies. When applied to the mining industry, these benefits are able to solve many of its problems. Real-time visibility of an entire mine’s standing seems like a tall order, but with smart technologies like M2M connectivity and automation, Big Data, the Internet of Things (IoT), Cloud etc.this is just an example of what is possible.
According to Landry Meya, Bosch mining key account manager, modern technology applied in the African mining industry can “create new opportunities and increase the demand for skilled labour”. In a Mining Weekly article, Meya explains how Industry 4.0 practices will lead to an increase in investment in education and training within the African Mining Industry and how this will in turn contribute towards socioeconomic development. He also mentioned that although this technology is available on the continent complete industrial transformation is still to come. “It will take some time to see these changes, but I believe that we will see many major mining companies embrace this transformation within the next five years,” he noted.
According to Azo Mining, 69% of mining companies are considering remote operations, 29% are looking at robotics and 27% at unmanned drones.
Smarter, automated technologies and the benefits they unlock for mining companies
When it comes to automating processes, mines can improve and streamline production from anywhere and at any time. Improving quality, reducing time and lowering costs.
There are multiple different ways in which these technologies can be implemented inside mines. A simple example is through sensors. By embedding sensors inside machines data can be collected that can enable mining companies to predict, prevent and limit breakdowns of equipment, resulting in less down time.
The technology can also be applied to geomodelling, enabling mines to better understand the resource base, which will lead to optimised drilling and blasting. This not only means better quality resources will be mined more efficiently, at a less time consuming pace but also means improved quality of life as less workers will be required to be in the field. Going one step further, sensors attached to clothing could assist in the safety and security of employees. Safety can also be enhanced through the use of drones or autonomous vehicles in hazardous areas.
Choosing the right partner
At the end of the day there is nothing new about the challenges faced inside mines. Industry 4.0 offers new, innovative and forward-thinking ways in which mines can simply address these challenges more effectively. It is not about how well mining companies can extract resources anymore but about how well data is accumulated and acted upon in order to extract resources more efficiently. It is undeniably the way to go, and the question is not whether to adopt or not, but instead who to partner with.
At AGE Technologies we have always been your partner in automation and electrical projects, but now, as part of the 4Sight Group, we are able to provide an even better, more integrated partnership. 4Sight Holdings is a JSE listed and diversified holding company with a focus on Industry 4.0 companies.
Recently, in an interview with ITWeb, 4Sight co-founder and CEO, Antonie van Rensburg, said that although there are a lot of confusion around the hype of Industry 4.0, 4Sight can help to simplify the concept for businesses.
"We enable digitisation for intelligent operations and intelligent business. We help you to digitise in order for you to make intelligent decisions around your business, and there are only three things: productivity; new products and services; and disruption. That is what we do," van Rensburg said.
Let AGE Technologies digitize your mine. Contact us today.