MMForum: How can digitalization and the Internet of Things change the working environment and efficiency in the metals and mining industry?
Digitization entails the conversion of analogue information in different formats into digital formats that can be used for intelligent decision making by IT systems. However, the Internet of Things (IoT) is a complete game changer and perhaps more in environments that are highly dependent of equipment and machinery like that of the metals and mining industry. It involves making objects and equipment intelligent, identifiable, automatically accessible and controllable using the internet. Also, Internet of Things include the use of equipment and specially designed devices fitted with sensors to collect data and process information. It also involves the establishment of communication network with and among equipment.
The collection and analysis of data resulting from digitalization and Internet of Things in the metal and mining industry have the potential to become major sources of data that can provide predictive and actionable insights.
With the emergence of Big Data Analytics and Data Science, it thus follow that we will be able to have equipment and systems in the metals and mining industry that can assist in making real time decisions that will reduce costs and increase efficiency. A very important example of this will be the use of data collected using sensors to design intelligent transport and logistics system in the metal and mining industry. The ability to choose optimal routes for the transporting and logistics requirement will be a huge cost and time saver that increase efficiency at the same time. The data and sensors that are attached to different equipment can also be used to collect data that can be used to predict and prevent equipment failure thereby reducing downtime to zero. These can also be used in preventing fatalities in the mines. Moreover, the industry can make use of data transmitted from sensors and remote controls to manage equipment maintenance scheduling thereby making the process automated and eliminating human errors.
Safety is a very important subject in the metals and mining industry, the use of intelligent equipment and systems to collect data regarding and for managing mine safety issues will be very a great value-add to the working environment. The data collected over time using Internet of Things, data from digitized information and other sources of data can be used to build intelligent system that can predict safety issues and even make recommendations on how to deal with such.
The use of map is very important in mining and exploration. The use of digitized format of maps that are linked to sensors or remote devices used in the mine shafts can also be used to gather information that can be analyzed to understand the working conditions underground. When this information is connected to real-time working conditions underground, they might be able to provide useful insight and recommendation for future exploration. More importantly, this may lead to having more engaged workers when mining organisation demonstrates concerns for the working condition of the mine workers under the ground.
Data has become ubiquitous and the evolution of data-centric technologies will impact every industry. The use of Internet of Things based technologies and digitization promises to change the metal and mining industry by improving profitability, productivity and increased efficiency as it applies in the other industries.