This is the third 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 andIndranil Som, Sr. Principal – Industry Value Engineering, Mill Products & Mining, SAP India
In the second article: link we reviewed more opportunities and potential application areas such as:
- Predictive Maintenance
- Remote monitoring of mining operations
- Connected Logistics at mine sites
In this third article – we will talk about using advanced analytics in IoT, some perceived challenges of IoT and the top 8 benefits from IoT in Mining.
Advanced Analytics for Big Data in Mining – A Key to successful IoT strategy
While we have seen in the previous sections how IoT could help improve visibility and raise the efficiency of operations in Mining industry, one of the key elements to be able to do this lies in being able to handle huge amount of big data generated in mining with advanced analytical capabilities. The growing number of connected assets, machines, and devices are resulting in huge data volumes and an in-depth analysis of these data will help provide invaluable insight into operations. Moreover, it is essential to successfully combine IoT data with business transnational data in a common database and real-time capable platform. To be able to make sense of all the data being generated it is vital to build advanced analytics capability for both the mining operations as well as at an enterprise-wide level. These capabilities not only help analyze the data in real time but also help predict future trends thus making the mining core business processes more efficient.
Business applications for mining provided by software companies like SAP, not only support supports the IoT based scenarios and solutions but also provide advanced analytical capabilities with ability to build predictive models in real-time connected scenarios. For example the SAP software applications are powered with the SAP in-memory technology platform, which include advanced analytical capabilities, as well as IoT based integration and application build capabilities. It bridges silos of data across multiple physical and digital channels to help create a real-time and connected Mining enterprise. It enables highly efficient and predictable mining operations, greater utilization of equipment and assets at lower costs, and the creation of new business and process improvement opportunities.
A Potential IT Architecture to drive IoT based scenarios
Now to drive the IoT based scenarios in Mining a sound foundation and technology platform is needed which has the inherent capabilities to drive these scenarios. Such a platform should have real-time sensor level integration capabilities with a layer to connect assets, devices and equipment. It should also have advanced analytical capabilities like predictive to drive innovative scenarios. Such a platform also needs to have inbuilt integration to business management and ERP systems also and capability to build such specific applications as needed in respective scenarios.
IT companies like SAP have already taken a big jump here providing with such a platform, which has all the above-mentioned capabilities driving a IoT based fully connected and digital Mining scenario. A sneak preview into such a potential architecture is as per figure below.
Some Perceived Challenges with IoT adoption in India
Worldwide Mining is considered a very old industry with great traditions where change is at times very gradual. Mining companies are perceived not to be the first movers when it comes to embracing new technologies apart from some specific geographies. The mining industry in India is even a bit more conservative and slow mover as compared to other industries in such technology adoption and sometimes looks for only tried and tested technology with well-established references. Such an approach might not be the best in today’s scenario where early movers gain huge competitive and sustainable advantages over slow movers.
IoT to the Indian mining industry might still seem as a starter concept not ready for deployment and this perception is largely driven by the fact that the real applications of IoT in mining are just beginning to evolve. While there are already examples like fitness related wearable devices, automobile telematics or “smart home” systems which are getting established in India, but in mining not much has been done to bring an end to end connectivity in mines. But a select few companies in other Indian industries like oil and gas have already initiated IoT pilot projects for cost-effective remote monitoring and maintenance of pipeline networks and similar approach needs to be looked at by the Mining industry to take an early mover technology advantage.
According to a study by Gartner, Indian enterprises are at the early stages of understanding the impact of the Internet of Things (IoT) on their business and adoption is expected to advance at a slow pace through 2020.Department of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India, has come out with a draft IoT Policy document which focuses on following objectives:
- To create an IoT industry in India of USD 15 billion by 2020. It has been assumed that India would have a share of 5-6% of global IoT industry
- To develop IoT products specific to Indian needs in all possible domains
With the Government’s stated plans of developing smart cities, where IoT would play a major role, there is significant scope for growth of IoT in India. While industries like consumer white goods, automobiles and Government utilities and services are taking the lead to be the initial beneficiaries of these initiatives, Miners quickly need to scale up to keep pace with the rest. As more activity around IoT gains ground and media helps create an awareness among industry and consumers, Mining would also benefit with the overall spurt in interest and activities around IoT. The Government and private sector together would have a role to play in helping IoT gain ground in India by addressing challenges around the issues of data security, data ownership, internet availability and reliability, cost of IoT enabled systems and devices and supporting required infrastructure.
At the same time the Mining industry lead players in the country should step up their efforts and collaboration with various players in IoT like SAP to build inherent competitive advantage with early adoption. One of the potential mitigatory actions from mining industry could be setting up of Connected or digital or IoT cells for various mines which would look at short, mid and long term vision of a fully connected and digital scenario in mines thereby gaining sustainable competitive advantage from these initiatives.
8 top Benefits of IoT in Mining
IoT based scenarios, applications, solutions and platforms can result in delivering multiple benefits for the Mining industry. Some of these are mentioned below.
- Improved asset utilization and availability of equipment’s,
- Capability to do predictions and corrective actions in advance their by reducing breakdown, operation costs etc
- Improved mining fleet utilization and real time control
- Highly safe and sustainable operations
- Realtime visibility leading to improved business process
- Higher employee productivity
- Potential for emergence of Innovative operational models for higher inefficiencies
- Improved Mining process cost visibility and resultant savings
The mining industry, worldwide and in India, is going through a difficult time and the industry’s boom days are a bit distant memory. With declining commodity prices and stricter environmental regulations, mining companies are scaling back capital expenditures while non-core assets are being disposed. There is a shift from maximizing value by increasing production volumes to maximizing returns from existing operations through improved productivity and efficiencies.
In such a scenario, IoT technology is close to being a panacea for mining companies. Whether a mining company is looking to decrease its expense or increase its output, IoT solutions can provide a big help. It is already making its impact felt by making operations more automated, efficient and safer. IoT technology is making it possible for fewer workers to be working at the actual mine site while still being able to better provide remotely controlled operations. There are large, global mining companies have already begun their journey towards ‘connected mining’ and digital operations and this is a scenario which most mining companies would and should strive for in the future.
It might take some time to mature, but IoT led journey towards business transformation is expected to start moving at a faster pace very soon at Indian mining sites with increasing visibility and efforts happening in this space. The Miners would do better to quickly get along in this journey with a structured approach internally. There are various key players to enable IoT and related scenarios like SAP, which support this transformational journey and industry, should look at leveraging the same. It is also important that mining companies start building skills and setting a direction and roadmap on this. Usage of IoT as discussed above is a highly promising concept for the Mining Industry and has the capability to become a lever for innovative and positively disruptive business models, which will make the mining industry far more competitive and sustainable not only in India but globally as well.
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.
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