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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.

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  • This blog is very insightful. Thank you very much for the information. Indeed digitization enables us to do to things we never dreamed possible. Digitization means things like big data, real-time business interactions and collaboration to achieve collective intelligence. Add these three things together and the sum equals efficiency!!!

    • Phillip,

      The ability to make real time decision is perhaps one of the most important value from Big Data and Digitization. imagine if an equipment can inform the user that it is about to blow up.

  • I once heard a keynote speaker saying that ''data is the new currency.” I believe that that meant that data is able to collect relevant business information and put it to use to increase your effectiveness.

    • Hi Diana,

      I have to agree very strongly with that statement. Data is indeed the new currency especially because we will not be wrong to say that it creates value.

  • Digitization is now truly giving us the infrastructure to build collective intelligence. For many years in the industrial world, we’ve been speaking about the idea of online communities, of knowledge bases that are accessible by teams anywhere in the world.

  • I like the aspect of safety where you indicated that data collected over time using Internet of things, data from digitized information and other sources of data can be used to build intelligent system for use in predicting safety issues and staying alert to avoid crisis management. Most industries should take cognizance of the fact that if the risk levels of safety for any project are high this can have a bearing on the life of the project. As such, proper safety measures should be put in place to be able to take corrective action in time.

    • Hi Indeed, Internet of Things will provide mines with the ability to reduce fatalities in our mines. I hear a new of another fatality at one the Platinum mines in South Africa yesterday and wonder if that could have been prevented.

      Data collected from Digitization and Internet of things becomes can be used to predict equipment failure or conditions like the one that led to yesterdays fatality.

      Thanks for your contribution.

  • The world is fastly converting to digital one.  In the next few years, the world will be a paperless world. Digitilisation has change everything, making it simpler, lets embrace it. It has truly arrived as we practically live online through social media and blogs.

    Thank you for such an insightful  blog.

  • This blog is on point. If digitalization can be implemented effectively in the mining industry, the mining sector can have more motivated employees and productivity would be at it's best. Thank you for this information.

  • This is quite extraordinary.

    Any entity that seeks remain profitable should endavour to either increase its sales or reduce its costs. Digitalisation would defitenatly reduces the costs of production and in effect cause the entity to remain profitable.There will be a complete transformation in the entity's environment. e.g. some things that used to be done manually will now be done otherwise.This will improve the entity's efficiency because of the fact that information is now readily available.Information can now be shared between various party with ease.  

  • If Digitalization and the internet of things can reduce downtime to zero this means that productivity is increased, this in turn promotes profitability in the mining industry. Many  Human lives will be saved if this initiative can prevent fatalities in the mines. This will be a game changer for sure.

    Thank you for sharing

    • Hi Micheal,

      Digitalization and Internet of thing will definitely lead to the ability to generate data that can be analyse to do preventive maintenance and predict likely fatalities in our mines.

      Thanks for your input.