In recent years, mining companies have increased their investment in automation and technological innovation, embracing new opportunities to enable transformational change. Internet of Things (IoT) is one of many transformational initiatives, which can fundamentally revolutionize how mining companies operate. Such initiatives entail substantial risk and capital investment, often correlated with market and commodity price fluctuations, but early adopters seek to gain a competitive industry advantage. As mining companies prioritize technology investments, key industry drivers such as safety, regulatory compliance, product innovation, environmental impact and operational efficiency will spur IoT adoption and deployment.
Global regulations have set high standards for mining operations, safety and mine reclamation. With complicated geology, operational complexity and strict regulatory compliance, safety is paramount, not only for miners who risk their lives to extract valuable minerals and geological materials, but also for neighboring communities potentially exposed to environmental hazards. Low levels of automation and lack of real-time monitoring systems for decision making, coupled with high safety risks, make it difficult to gain visibility into overall operational performance. Improving the accuracy and assessment of operational risk, proactively managing compliance, and optimizing mine operations are primary areas of concern.
Another key challenge relates to edge processing and connectivity, especially for underground mining operations. Extreme and rugged operating conditions, remote locations with limited or no cellular coverage, and changing terrains make it difficult to offer reliable connectivity. Wireless mesh technology, which inherently works on the principle of not having a single point of failure, provides the ability to work offline, filter relevant data, and trigger standard processes automatically. This may involve, for example, initiating a purchase order for replacement parts with Ariba, submitting a labor request for repair maintenance with Fieldglass, or generating a travel inquiry with Concur. Bringing integrated business and contextual IoT sensor data together, to enable standard business processes, helps streamline operations, production and safety without disruption. The industrial Internet of Things and smart mining machines show promise in elevating operational and safety performance in mines.
Connected Mining for Safety and Performance
SAP is pioneering a new mining solution to help mining companies run safer and be more efficient with advanced analytics, simulation and forecasting. In any given mine operation, there could be up to 5 million sensors submitting data on equipment status and environmental conditions. SAP Connected Mining captures operational and sensor data in the cloud and provides deeper actionable insight and foresight into underground mines with real-time status monitoring of people (location, heart rate, temperature), environment (gas concentration, CO, coal dust, wind speed) and equipment (power, operating pressure, speed). If disaster strikes, SAP Connected Mining can help reduce casualties with optimized evacuation management, based on pre-defined safety thresholds and warning alerts. Mine managers gain access to operational, safety and performance data across all corporate plants, enabling real-time insights and automated decision-making to impact the bottom line and save lives.
SAP’s Customer Innovation & Strategic Projects (CI&SP) team is closely collaborating with the mining industry, including gold and oil mining companies, to improve mining operations, safety and edge processing for business networks, leveraging SAP HANA, IoT and predictive analytics. As the leader of SAP’s Customer Innovation & Strategic Projects Team, I am inspired to help customers see the “art of the possible” and transform their business with breakthrough technology. SAP Connected Mining is one such example for the mining industry, but there are a myriad of exciting IoT possibilities across industries to help businesses run better.
Guruprasad Srinivasamurthy is the head of Customer Innovation & Strategic Projects at SAP