Here are some of the existing and emerging technologies used by Mining Companies to increase its operational efficiency. This technologies allows them to capture data from different machines and integrate them with ERP like SAP so that decision maker get a real time analysis of their information
Machine to Machine (M2M)
Machine to machine (M2M) refers to technologies that allow both wireless and wired systems to communicate with other devices of the same ability. M2M uses a device (such as a sensor or meter) to capture an event (such as temperature, inventory level, etc.), which is relayed through a network (wireless, wired or hybrid) to an application (software program), that translates the captured event into meaningful information (for example, items need to be restocked). Such communication was originally accomplished by having a remote network of machines relay information back to a central hub for analysis, which would then be rerouted into a system like a personal computer. With advancement in communication technologies communication between difference machines becomes easier irrespective of their locations.
M2M can be used in Mining by combining technologies like PLC, SCADA, MES and ROV that enable mining companies to operate equipment remotely, removing the need to move people in and out of dangerous and inhospitable job sites while creating operating efficiencies.
To know more about how M2M works visit following link
Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC):
A Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) is a digital computer used for automation of electromechanical processes, such as control of machinery on factory assembly lines, amusement rides, or light fixtures. The main difference from other computers is that PLCs are armored for severe conditions (such as dust, moisture, heat, cold) and have the facility for extensive input/output (I/O) arrangements.PLCs read limit switches, analog process variables (such as temperature and pressure), and the positions of complex positioning systems.PLCs operate electric motors, pneumatic or hydraulic cylinders, magnetic relays, solenoids, or analog outputs.
PLC help mining companies automate a range of industrial processes, from blasting and drilling to excavation and transportation. Their ability to withstand harsh environments, high temperature variations and both noise and vibration make them suitable to most mining operations, where they can deliver enhanced remote monitoring and control abilities. By extending the use of PLCs, companies can improve mining safety outcomes and accelerate production by remotely controlling drill environments, handling explosives, managing conveyor systems and aiding with positioning and navigation.
Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems
The term SCADA usually refers to centralized systems which monitor and control entire sites, or complexes of systems spread out over large areas (anything from an industrial plant to a nation). Most control actions are performed automatically by RTUs or by PLCs. Data acquisition begins at the RTU or PLC level and includes meter readings and equipment status reports that are communicated to SCADA as required. Data is then compiled and formatted in such a way that a control room operator using the HMI can make supervisory decisions to adjust or override normal RTU (PLC) controls.
SCADA in used in Mining to enhance remote operations by enabling companies to collect information from remote sites and communicate it back to regional plants or a central location. With this type of monitoring and alerting system, companies can improve plant performance, reduce labor costs and capture more pertinent business data and metrics.
Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES)
Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) are computerized systems used in manufacturing. MES can provide the right information at the right time and show the manufacturing decision maker “how the current conditions on the plant floor can be optimized to improve production output.” MES work in real time to enable the control of multiple elements of the production process (e.g. inputs, personnel, machines and support services).MES might operate across multiple function areas, for example: management of product definitions across the product life-cycle, resource scheduling, order execution and dispatch, production analysis for Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), and materials track and trace. The idea of MES might be seen as an intermediate step between, on the one hand, an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, and a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) or process control system on the other; although historically, exact boundaries have fluctuated.
MES is used in Mining to enable mining operation automation, making it safer to operate heavy equipment. Detailed data tracking also provides greater visibility into asset performance, positioning companies to optimize a range of manufacturing processes
Remotely operated vehicle (ROV/RCV)
Remotely operated vehicles are vehicles which are controlled by an operator who is not in the vehicle. These can be operated by radio signals, or through a cable or line connecting the vehicle to the operators location. A remotely operated vehicle differs from a robot in that the it is always controlled by a human and takes no positive action autonomously. Remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) are extensively used in hazardous environments (i.e. radioactive environments, contaminated environments, minefields, deep oceans).
Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS)
A Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS), sometimes referred to as a Laboratory Information System (LIS) or Laboratory Management System (LMS), is a software-based laboratory and information management system that offers a set of key features that support a modern laboratory’s operations. Those key features include — but are not limited to — workflow and data tracking support, flexible architecture, and smart data exchange interfaces, which fully “support its use in regulated environments.” The features and uses of a LIMS have evolved over the years from simple sample tracking to an enterprise resource planning tool that manages multiple aspects of laboratory informatics. Some of the functionalities of LIMS are Sample Management, Instrument and application integration, quality assurance and control, document management, instrument calibration and maintenance etc.
LIMS is used in Mining by focused on improving efficiencies and controlling processes so that they can realize increased margins, verify the quality of their end products and maintain adherence to local environmental, governmental or other regulatory requirements, such as ISO 17025
Vehicle tracking system
A vehicle tracking system combines the installation of an electronic device in a vehicle, or fleet of vehicles, with purpose-designed computer software at least at one operational base to enable the owner or a third party to track the vehicle’s location, collecting data in the process from the field and deliver it to the base of operation. Modern vehicle tracking systems commonly use GPS or GLONASS technology for locating the vehicle, but other types of automatic vehicle location technology can also be used. Vehicle information can be viewed on electronic maps via the Internet or specialized software.
In Mining Companies, Vehicle tracking systems are commonly used for fleet management functions such as fleet tracking, routing, dispatch, on-board information and security.