MMForum: Digitalization And The Internet Of Things, How Can They Help Shape The Metal And Mining Industry?
A world where everything is digitally connected and we didn’t have to do much, hmmmn 😎 wouldn’t that be a cross between the themes of the iRobot and oblivion movies? Close enough. Technology has become increasingly pervasive and has revolutionized human activities and interactions;the internet has made the world smaller with information readily available at the click of a button or more recently the retweets of posts,thanks twitter.
We have ingeniously created devices that help solve our problems or make them easier. Now we have little gizmos in our palms that help us communicate, house unlimited number of songs, capture and share our every moment, monitor our health, plan our lives and sometimes literally tell us when to sleep and wake up, our digital MOMS 😥 .
The concept of the ‘ internet of things’ provides solutions based on the integration of information technology, which refers to hardware and software used to store,retrieve, and process data and communications technology which includes electronic systems used for communication between individuals or groups. This basically means every object or ‘thing’ is implanted with a transmitting device that acts as an identifier and can exchange information with other implanted identifiers and this electronic interaction can be controlled by a central system or a cloud.
After cudgeling my brain, the best way the IoT can be fully integrated is if we build dedicated ‘smart’ mines like the south Koreans are planning to build smart cities(and nuclear bombs of course :D). first of,by collecting and analyzing geo-data special software packages can simulate and digitally generate 3-D imagery of the mine and its physical conditions. From this we can assess and visualize likely environmental impact and safety concerns as these are very pertinent factors during the planning phase. Avoid disasters and genocide at all cost I say.
Central to having a smart plant is to be SENSOR laden arrgh!!! 😡 . They are the eye of the law in the smart plant. A cloud collects, analyzes and stores data from multiple sensors installed in the mine area at strategic positions. Temperature changes, presence of harmful gases, silicon and coal dusts can be ‘sensed’ and appropriate actions can be taken. Mine ventilation can also be automated if a reduction in the quality of air is detected by a…guess??….sensor. Overtime massive earth movements during excavation can disrupt the natural balance of the earth and hurt her feelings and in the fits and starts of sobs she might quake, seismic sensors can detect these activities and have them reported. The wireless network of mining operations helps in the management of the depots, provides appropriate transportation information, and monitors the status of the transported goods. These ultimately reduce downtime and increases efficiency, it might be opposed by the Luddites but who cares less working hours for me and my buddies 😉 .
Embedded in the protective clothing of mine workers would be RFIDs (Radio Frequency Identifiers),these little bugs, no bigger than a grain of rice, can communicate with sensors and report workers’ location in real-time to a cloud in the event of an accident or a mine collapse. Health status of the miners can be monitored and reported, ok maybe that’s a little obamacare-esque but it wouldn’t hurt.
In the Congo democratic republic and indeed many war ravaged nations in Africa, profits gotten from illegal mining and sale of conflict minerals tin tantalum and tungsten are being used to fuel the wars. Digitization of global supply chains helps to monitor distribution, storage and sale of semi-products, products and returns’ processing. With these it is possible to obtain products related information, promptly,timely, and accurately so that we can respond to illegal supply of these minerals in the global market and make appropriate sanctions like a Guantanamo bay sentence :D. As much as we would like to record large profits we should also be socially responsible ? .