MMForum: Smart Technology creates Smart Mining
Musician Bob Dylan said it best in his hit song The Times they are a Changin’. Our world’s obsession with Internet Intelligent devices, or “Smart” devices, is changing the way we live. Smart devices are infiltrating into our homes; any new TV, stereo system, cell phone, or ceiling fan is Smart. Everything the previous generations knew and understood is now considered slow and outdated… and I could not be happier.
As a 20 year old student growing up in the Information Age, I love the new Smart culture. My addiction, or dependence, on Smart Technology is easily apparent when entering my apartment. The living room is filled with Smart devices, where they all share information with one another to create a giant network. This network, or sea of Smart Technology, allows me to optimize my time the best way possible. And as a busy engineering student, being optimized is vital to my success. This holds true for all businesses, with mining corporations being no exception. With the way our world has evolved, smart technology is the new medium for optimization.
Smart Technology and the networks they can create are the wave of the future in the mining industry. While this may not seem to be the case initially, ask yourself the following question: What if most major mining equipment was Smart and connected to the same network? Below are a few things I could see happening to the industry as whole.
- Safety would skyrocket. Smart equipment would effectively move some of the most dangerous jobs associated in mining into a safer environment thousands or millions of feet away from production areas.
- Equipment could more or less “talk” to each other. This increase in communication between the equipment would ramp up efficiency. For example, a Dragline could automatically relay information to trucks, telling them to slow down or speed up in order to keep exact pace with how quick it is extracting material.
- Information could be inserted into the software of the equipment to manipulate production and modify specifications given by engineers, customers, or upper management.
While this is only three possible answers, possibilities for every piece of equipment are endless. For example, what if DTH Drills could read AutoCAD files to drill quicker and more precise? Or if a roof bolter could read AutoCAD files to track where pins need to be placed and which pins need to be reinforced more than others? What if machines could tell mechanics when a part is about to break? When mining equipment becomes Smart, these questions can be answered and complete optimization can occur. This optimization will lead to soaring profits, but more importantly a level of safety higher than the industry has ever seen.
Nobody knows exactly when Smart equipment will completely take over mining. But, the future is closer than ever. Caterpillar is taking the first steps with their newly designed automated trucks. Advances in haulage have started the revolution, and changed the way people think the industry will evolve. Times are definitely changing, at a rate faster than ever. No longer are Smart devices limited to home and personal use. Smart Technology is knocking on the door of the mining market, and a breakthrough is about ready to begin. My addiction to Smart Technology is joining me in the workforce… and I could not be happier.