ABB working with Claro and Nokia has recently tested telematics using satellite connectivity between the Gold Fields’ Salares Norte gold mining project located near Copiapo at 4,700 m above sea level and Chilean capital Santiago, some 1,200 km away. The tests showed that it is possible to connect technologies located thousands of kilometres away, with totally isolated areas, but within reach of the satellite, and with mobile equipment with minimal relative latency.
The first connection consisted of a telemedicine consultation through ABB’s 800xA control system with the doctor, Marcelo Mancini, from Santiago to a volunteer located at the mining facilities. Once successfully completed, the Atacama Region Mining Seremi, Christian Alvayai, physically located in Salares Norte, “met” with Minister Prokurica, in the virtual telemedicine room. Through mixed reality lenses (virtual reality and augmented reality), both authorities held a conversation that flowed in real time, each one “seeing” their avatar, as if they were together in a real environment. “This is a sample of how technology can help improve processes in mining and make them safer. We are talking about being able to connect via satellite to carry out tasks and procedures remotely, which includes medical assistance for workers. We are modernising Chilean mining,” said the Minister of Mining, Baldo Prokurica.
The tests continued with the remote control and monitoring of intelligent electric motors with a smart sensor from ABB, connected with Gold Fields (Copiapó), the ABB University in Chile (Santiago) and Switzerland. Here Max Combes, General Manager of Minera Gold Fields, together with his Studies and Technology Manager, François Swanepoel, were able to visualise, through ABB’s 800xA Control System, and from the premises of ABB University in Santiago de Chile, the industrial equipment of the company located in the field in the Salares Norte mining project. Later, it was possible to view this information and even provide remote support through a conventional smartphone, connected to ABB’s 800xA Control System. The final test showed a virtual connection of the future Salares Norte mining plant directed from Santiago.
“It is a technology that will allow us to be more agile, efficient and take another step towards digital transformation. An innovation at the height of a world-class project such as Salares Norte and congruent with our innovative DNA and continuous improvement” highlighted Combes. Marcelo Schumacker, Country Managing Director of ABB in Chile said he was proud to have successfully completed these tests and once again set a precedent in the technological history of Chile. “At ABB Service Day 2019 we were the protagonists of the first 5G technology demonstration for local industry and now with this, we once again reflect our firm intention to guide our customers and the market in general on their path towards industrial digitisation.”
For Francisco Herrera, Service Manager of ABB’s Mining Unit in Chile: “ABB has been revolutionising the industry for 130 years, however, this process has never been so fast and that is thanks to the telecommunications industry. Our ABB 800xA Control System is the heart of these tests by allowing comprehensive monitoring of a process plant, now taken to the next level by being able to do it remotely, thousands of kilometres away.”
“We are very proud to deploy our networks and share our experience for this robust digitization process in Chile. Nokia’s private wireless networks enable the digital transformation process in the mining industry and more broadly in Industry 4.0 projects, providing mission-critical communications for data collection and processing. This is a key step since we know that in Industry 4.0 the value of digitisation lies in the possibility of controlling assets remotely,” commented Marcelo Entreconti, Director of Nokia Enterprise for Latin America.
Francisco Guzmán, Director of Claro companies and Acti, explained that the mining industry has undergone a great digital transformation in recent years thanks to new solutions, allowing better connectivity and greater well-being for people. “Today, a company can set up a true mobile office in a camp in a few minutes, with access to the internet and the cloud, which facilitates online communication and collaboration from any device. But, in addition, the work of the teams can be complemented with tools such as platforms that facilitate the management of vehicle fleets (and even collect information to program routes) or solutions capable of monitoring machinery remotely and contribute to a safe operation. to facilitate the workers’ contact with their families.”
The ABB 800xA System is not just a Distributed Control System, it is also an Electrical and Safety Control System, as well as a collaboration facilitator with the ability to improve process efficiency, operator performance and usage. of assets. ABB currently has 11,000 digital control systems installed in 100 countries around the world.