How Internet of Things will Drive the Digital Mine
This is the first in a series of blogs about Internet of Things in Mining created by Vimal Gaba Director- Industry Business Unit, Mill Products and Mining, SAP Labs India and Indranil Som, Sr. Principal – Industry Value Engineering, Mill Products & Mining, SAP India
Internet of Things
A promising concept for Mining Industry
Mining is an important industry for many countries and regions around the globe. And while it is vital to many countries and to the global economy, it is at a crossroads today. It is currently faced with multiple adverse global trends such as falling commodity prices, a slowing global economy and skilled labour shortages. The industry must also navigate remote and sometimes hazardous global operations with far-flung supply chains. Mining industry today needs to meet the multiple objectives of production enhancement, improvement in efficiency, cost containment, while also addressing sustainability issues and aiming for global competitiveness to tide through one of the strongest commodity downturns.
There are some key trends shaping the mining industry both from a business function as well as technology perspective. There is a clear need to be cost efficient and enhance operational efficiently on an ongoing basis to be competitive and sustainable. The industry needs to ensure safety of its workers while minimizing environmental impact, being fully compliant to society and law and also improve on talent management and retention ability. On the technology side there are newer and latest technologies coming up driving innovations on business processes. The mining industry while being a slow absorber of new technologies is looking the direction of being fully digital and connected globally and technologies like Internet of things, real time business management with advanced analytical capabilities like predictions, cloud based solutions and mobile capabilities are driving these innovations.
One of the biggest emerging and promising trends is Internet of things (IoT) which is essentially about connection of machines, objects and devices at a sensor level and combination of data from different sources to build newer insights and improve processes.
Internet of Things (IoT) can definitely help the mining industry unlock business benefits beyond automation and pave the way for new innovative information technology applications which helps companies pursue visibility, safety, and efficiency like never before. Mining is a very old industry and often not the first mover when it comes to adopting new technology. However, slowly but steadily, IoT is making its way into mining companies. Typical characteristics of the Mining industry like large a physical environment, massive size and amount of equipment, remote and often hostile working conditions with safety hazards, make the industry an ideal candidate for IoT led transformation. Companies like SAP are already supporting the adoption of this concept into the industry with IT/OT integration and usage of promising concepts like IoT to drive fully digital and connected mines with highly advanced Mining business process innovations.
What is Internet of Things?
The “Internet of things” (IoT) is becoming an increasingly growing topic of conversation both in the workplace and outside of it. But what exactly is the “Internet of things”? A simple definition of the Internet of Things is the connection of objects such as computing machines, embedded devices, equipment, appliances, and sensors to the Internet. This could include everything from cell phones, washing machines, automobiles, wearable devices and almost anything else one can think of. This also applies to components of machines, for example a jet engine of an airplane or the drill of an oil rig or equipment’s and machines working at remote Mine sites.
Over the past decade we have seen significant changes in how people and business connect. We have seen the hyper growth of social networks in the past decade. Enterprises have taken note of these technologies, ones that can connect 100’s of millions of people together. Not to be outdone business networks have also prospered, with millions of companies connecting their supplier, customer and payment systems to seamlessly engage in commerce. Both of these phenomena are clear signs that hyper connectivity is here to stay. At the same time It is estimated that by 2020, there would be 75 billion connections between devices like smartphones, appliances, lighting, manufacturing equipment, agriculture, wearable computers. IoT will now connect the current people and business networks to EVERYTHING ELSE. When we couple these changes with improvements in network infrastructure, big data analytics and smart applications we have the entered the era of truly connected world. Now we could ask, what can individuals, society and companies (say in Mining) achieve when EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED? When we have a bidirectional network that connects people, machines, business, process, data and everything together the possibilities are truly endless.
In the context of mining industry, the Internet of Things platform can connect all mining equipment’s, people, processes and systems. This could help improve visibility of operations across the mining operations, make it easier to trace goods, vehicles and manpower movement inside the mines. In addition, IoT enables computers to observe, identify and understand different facets of mining operations without the involvement of any human intervention, which reduces the number of workers who actually need to be working in the remote and often hostile mining environment. So IoT becomes a very promising concept enabling a central remotely operated digital mining scenario. IoT could also help automate and improve the maintenance and operation of mining machines in a connected manner thereby improving the overall operations efficiency. Companies such as SAP are currently supporting the IoT journey for Mining Industry in a big way to deliver IoT-based solutions specifically addressing the needs of the industry.
A view into the size of the IoT market
With all the expectations for the Internet of Things, industry experts have put the value at stake at over $14 Trillion. If enterprises do not actively look at pursuing the opportunity in front of them, they are expected to face some challenges like:
- Squeezed margins,
- Outdated business models and missed revenue opportunities.
- High prices of technology solutions, which could costs companies thousands of dollars per device, per connection or slab of data. With the Internet of Things, companies can balance these costs and provide better service to end users.
Let’s look at what’s actually happening today. As you can see, industries worldwide are already investing in the Internet of Things. Over $16 billion was spent across these five verticals alone in 2013, and industry analysts expect that number to increase to $36 billion in 2017. Some of the startling findings of various industry study reports, point towards the huge potential of the IoT market.
- $ 100 Billion(Source: The “Internet of Things” Is Now: Connecting the Real Economy, Morgan Stanley Blue Paper, April 3, 2014)
- $ 168 Billion potential savings in freight transportation by using the IoT (Source: The “Internet of Things” Is Now: Connecting the Real Economy, Morgan Stanley Blue Paper, April 3, 2014)
- $ 70 Billion wearable technology market forecast by 2024 (Source: Wearable Technology 2014–2024: Technologies, Markets, Forecasts, IDTechEx research report, July 2014)
IoT in Mining: Opportunities and Potential application areas
With the marriage of smart devices, advanced connectivity, and management platforms to manage the collaboration, IoT and machine-to-machine (M2M) communication is already gaining traction in many areas of mining as a means to optimize efficiency and develop new business practices. Use of this technology is accelerating with mobile and cloud innovation, as well as advances in Big Data and predictive analytics based on in-memory computing. It’s also becoming more affordable and practical as the size and price of sensors shrink. Mining companies that embrace innovative technologies can gain first mover advantage in this direction and become far more cost competitive and sustainable in this cyclical industry. We can categorize some of the opportunities and areas in mining which could be enabled by IoT as follows:
- Full mine and plant automation driving a Real-time machine and sensor level integration
- Remote monitoring & control of operations for Real time Fleet, drill, dumper tracking
- Monitoring fuel consumptions, engine and tire parameters, etc. for mining assets
- Bringing data from multiple sources together driving real time mine dashboards, trends, operational alerts, and inventory tracking with advanced analytical capabilities.
- Capturing sensor data from moving equipment, driving real time movement controls.
- Integrating data from mining expert systems to drive concepts like Ore grade sensing
- Connected business management driving integrated business process workflows
- Mine worker productivity- activity tracking, productive and nonproductive work time etc
- Digital monitoring and modelling of mine site, mining progress and ongoing changes etc.
- Fleet Driver/driving behavior and driving condition analytics at mine site
- Predictive maintenance and diagnostics
- Real-time asset condition monitoring
- Remote asset maintenance
- Better collaboration between OEM and equipment operators driving connected Process on network for Assets,
- Location based Maintenance and support services etc.
Commodity Supply Chain
- Real time tracking and traceability of mining fleets and commodity inventories from Pit to port
- Fleet planning/ diagnostics using communication data & RFID /sensor level connectivity
- Real time logistics information and location intelligence
- Integrated and automated port equipment management and operations
EH&S and Sustainability
- Tracking and tracing of mine workers location using RFID, mine worker location intelligence
- Mine working environment condition monitoring
- Access control and monitoring at mine site, geo fencing
- Monitoring Gas concentration/ventilation in underground mines & improving disaster predictions
- Collision detection of mining equipment and people safety
- Integrated wearable devices to monitor hazardous exposure and fatigue
- Fully real time and connected emission and Sustainability reporting
- Energy tracking and optimization at mining and processing plants
The global Mining and Metals industry is going to come together to talk more about IoT and other digitalization trends impacting these industries July 12-14 at the International SAP Conference for Mining and Metals in Frankfurt, Germany. Click here or below to find out more and register. Don’t miss this opportunity to meet with world leaders and learn how your organization can become a connected, digital enterprise.
Follow who is coming and speaking and pre-event activities by following sapmmconf and @sapmillmining on Twitter