Innovation in Mining and the Internet of Things (IoT)

The mining industry is undergoing a paradigm shift to improve efficiency, embracing innovation to advance operations and refine customer solutions. The Internet of Things (IoT) is an emerging technology that offers positive change in the mining industry and will change the way miners operate over the next decade.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the connection of any type of object to the internet, such as:

  • computing machines
  • embedded devices
  • equipment
  • appliances
  • sensors

The networking of these devices is transforming the mining industry by creating new ways of improving productivity and mine safety. Mines are using technology to connect equipment, fleets and people. For example, radio frequency identification devices (RFID) and sensor technologies are being integrated into the IoT.

The IoT will have a great impact in the mining industry in a variety of ways, including:

  • standardizing processes
  • building new business models
  • creating highly agile processes at the operations level
  • automate machine operations and maintenance
  • creating newer collaboration models
  • monitoring original equipment manufacturer (OEM) via cloud connectivity and networks
  • improving traceability and visibility
  • automatically transfer and receive data over a network without requiring human intervention
  • ensuring safety of people and equipment
  • integrating mine automation systems with automated physical elements to create a real-time, multi-dimensional model from a variety of data sources
  • creating systems that will be used to optimize and coordinate the mine’s layout, operation and vehicle paths to ensure high efficiency and safety
  • moving from preventative to predictive maintenance
  • using M2M sensors to prevent equipment failure
  • detecting the status of equipment (like temperature, pressure, vibration and speed)
  • collecting maintenance history
  • determining external weather conditions
  • providing analytics to predict failures before they occur
  • ordering spare parts ahead of time
  • tracking real-time data and analytics
  • using visualization tools to provide 3D displays of the mine and other related data for use by pit controllers, geologists, drilling/blasting teams, mine planners and supervisors.
  • transmitting equipment-related data (i.e. oil temperature, contamination, tire pressure, bearing rotation, vibration, frame rack, bias and pitch, engine speed, brake pressure) which is used to recommend maintenance schedules and alert teams about potential trouble before there is an issue.

The transformation of the mining industry using the IoT is in its infancy. The IoT is making mining safer, more efficient and improving automation, Mining jobs are increasingly becoming more high-tech and allowing miners to work remotely, which translates into fewer hazards and injuries at the mining site.

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