Tag Archives: 6th Sense

Epiroc trusting its 6th Sense on mine automation, electrification, digitalisation developments

During an enlightening Capital Markets Day, in Stockholm, Sweden, Epiroc backed up its credentials as a leader in the mine automation, digitalisation and electrification spaces, outlining its progress to date and its medium- and long-term plans to capture more market share.

A few weeks after putting on the investor showcase – but before Helena Hedblom was announced as the incoming President and CEOIM spoke with President and CEO, Per Lindberg, and Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications, Mattias Olsson, to get some detail behind the presentation slides.

IM: Automation featured very widely in the capital markets day (CMD) presentations earlier this month: In general, how would you characterise the mining industry appetite for this new technology? Where is the average customer on your automation scale?

PL: First of all, the appetite is very large; most customers are looking at automation in one way or another.

It is hard to do a mathematical average when it comes to where the industry currently is, but the average miner is probably down on the left-hand side of that scale (pictured below) – somewhere in between tele-remote and single machine automation.

IM: Over the next five years, where do you see most potential growth for autonomous solutions in terms of underground or open-pit mining? What market dynamics are accelerating this uptake?

PL: Most likely it will happen in both surface and underground. The potential for productivity and safety improvements is probably greater in underground, though.

This trend is clearly driven by productivity, cost efficiency and safety. Those would be the key drivers for automation. It is about taking people out of the line of fire, as well as having close to 24/7 production.

IM: Following the 34% stake acquisition of ASI Mining last year, would you say the project Epiroc and ASI are working on at Ferrexpo’s Yeristovo mine is representative of how you envisage doing business together in the future?

PL: That is the reason that we initially acquired the 34% stake in ASI Mining; we wanted to go in that direction. In that respect, I think the Ferrexpo example is representative of how we will cooperate with ASI.

Of course, ASI can also offer a standalone solution without Epiroc being present on the automation side, so we are also promoting their offering too.

IM: How does Epiroc, as an OEM, balance its machine building and maintenance service offering? Does the ability to keep machines working longer through sophisticated monitoring systems and better manufacturing somewhat inhibit your ability to sell new machinery?

PL: To a certain extent, we are probably cannibalising our new machine sales with increased service intensity and improved servicing products. That is most likely the consequence. On the other hand, we also feel that it is only right to offer this type of aftercare and servicing.

Yet, you cannot continue to prolong the life of a piece of equipment forever. It needs to be replaced at some point.

Overall, the servicing offering works well for us and, we think, it is good for our customers in terms of increasing the life of their equipment.

IM: Factoring this in, what percentage of revenue is your aftermarket business likely to represent in the next 10 years (from 65% today)?

PL: It’s difficult to say if it is going to be higher, or not, but it is likely that the volume of service will increase. That is based on what we are talking about – the intensified servicing we are offering, the products we have developed and the fact that we are increasing the market share within our own fleet.

Whether it continues to be 65% of the overall business depends on activity in the rest of the group.

IM: Along these lines, how long does the company anticipate its new battery-electric loading fleets lasting compared with, say, the diesel-powered fleets you were selling 10 years ago?

PL: The wear and tear of the actual machine will be the same – that is not going to change because of the drivetrain.

But, having an electric drivetrain is different from diesel; we have to see what the long-term maintenance needs are compared with diesel. The life of the drivetrain also depends very much on the utilisation of the machine.

IM: Of the recent innovations the company has launched (or is about to launch) – 6th Sense, a semi-automated explosives delivery system (with Orica), Scooptram Automation Total, Powerbit, etc – which has the strongest business case in mining?

PL: I think 6th Sense is really a packaging of all of our different offerings within automation. In that regard, it is has the highest potential. Which components of 6th Sense have the highest potential? We’ll have to wait and see.

The semi-automated explosives delivery system with Orica is a very specific innovation, but we very much believe in automating this mining process because of the safety and productivity benefits it brings. But we are only just starting this development compared with 6th Sense, which has already launched.

Powerbit is, again, very specific, but…allows us to deliver a complete offering both in terms of machine and consumables that will enable higher productivity and automation. That should have a high potential in the market.

IM: What does the Epiroc mining roadmap look like for the next 10-30 years? I imagine wider adoption of hard-rock cutting, automation, electrification and digitalisation are in there, but what other technology evolutions are being planned for?

PL: We have to continue to work with all of those three – automation, electrification and digitalisation – as they will deliver significant benefits for the industry. That is where we need to focus over that 10-year timeframe.

These three also have the potential to further integrate the value chain in mining within the future digitalisation space. We need to both continue to work with these technologies and our customers to ensure we have greater market penetration in all these areas.

IM: And, hard-rock cutting? Is this as important as these three?

PL: For specific applications, mechanical cutting and the Mobile Miners have their relevance and work well. But we believe for the foreseeable future, the majority of hard-rock excavation will be carried out by drilling and blasting in the mining and tunnelling sectors.

IM: During the CMD there was mention of “cost per measure” contracts under the digitalisation heading. Could you go into some detail about how the company is offering these and if they are tied in with financing agreements for your equipment?

PL: In terms of cost per measure, one example would be cost per metre contracts in consumables and rock drilling tools.

MO: We also provide finance for equipment and it could be that the equipment is financed and we have a cost per metre contract in place. Those two are not connected or tied, though.

It could be that there is more of this ‘pay-for-performance’ type of contract in the future – where you charge per tonne of ore excavated, for example – but, if it does come, I don’t think it will happen quickly.

IM: Similarly Epiroc talked about “new business models” in 2020 for underground equipment at the CMD. What might these new business models be? What is the need for them?

PL: It could be revenue streams into software, to information management, to advanced service agreements, to Batteries as a Service for battery vehicles.

The reasons for establishing these models is the continuous development of software, new updates for machines, etc that require different models.

When it comes to Batteries as a Service, it is a different model again looking to transfer the energy cost of the battery from capex to opex in order to facilitate the timely decisions for customers and reduce the cost of operation for our customers.

These new models are all based on development of technologies.

Pucobre to employ Epiroc 6th Sense solution at UG copper mines

Epiroc says it has signed a collaboration agreement with Sociedad Punta del Cobre SA (Pucobre) in Chile to digitalise the company’s mining operations, in turn, boosting productivity and safety.

The mining OEM is helping Pucobre to enhance its mining operations in the Atacama region of northern Chile, with the collaboration including defining new ways of working and new roles as well as development of an integrated information management system, it said.

Epiroc’s new 6th Sense Mine Management Solution will be included in this solution, combining Pucobre’s existing systems with, for instance, scheduler and other task management and reporting features, Epiroc said.

The new solution is already visible in Pucobre’s newly established Control Tower (pictured).

Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s Senior Executive Vice President Mining and Infrastructure, said the 6th Sense collaboration with Pucobre would help modernise its mine operations and make it safer and more productive. “This represents the future of mining,” she added.

Sebastián Ríos, Pucobre’s CEO, said the company had high expectations for 6th Sense to continue improving the safety and productivity of its underground copper mining operations.

“We have strengthened our relationship with Epiroc, as we both target excellence in mining operations,” he said. “We rely on Epiroc’s strategic approach, its collaborative work and its professional team, which is regularly present at our mine site.”

The 6th Sense system can be connected to the customer’s existing machine fleet regardless of make or model, according to Epiroc.

“6th Sense is Epiroc’s new way to optimise customers’ processes through automation, system integration and information management – enabling a smart, safe and seamless operation,” the company said.

The collaboration extends the partnership between the companies. Pucobre’s Epiroc equipment includes Simba production drill rigs, Boomer face drilling rigs, and Scooptram and Minetruck underground loading and haulage vehicles, Epiroc said. The company also provides Pucobre with consumables and service.

Epiroc takes LHD automation to another level

Epiroc’s has released a new offering for LHD automation that, it says, brings new standards of productivity and safety to underground mining.

Scooptram Automation Total allows for multi machine loader automation, with its Traffic Management System creating a common information environment that controls multiple fleets of loaders, according to the company.

“The Traffic Management system is the core of Epiroc’s Scooptram Automation Total package,” Epiroc said. “This system operates the fleet and eliminates the risk of collisions in common drifts.”

The automation area is fully isolated with safety barriers that shut off the system if personnel or unauthorised vehicles accidently enter. Yet, it is possible to bring new vehicles into the area and add them to the Traffic Management System without stopping production, using the check-in/check-out procedure, the company said.

Vladimir Sysoev, Global Product Manager Automation at Epiroc, said: “This is a great step forward in our development of world leading automation and information management solutions. Scooptram Automation Total is really a game changer when it comes to increasing safety for underground operators and at the same time levelling up the efficiency.”

The company says Scooptram Automation Total takes safety, productivity and cost effectiveness “to another level and makes superior performance a reality”. It allows operators to control and monitor vehicle progress throughout the mine from a safe distance in a comfortable operator station.

Scooptram Automation Total is part of Epiroc’s 6th Sense Transport offering, which the company launched earlier this year.

“Epiroc’s 6th Sense sets out to optimise our customers’ value chain by offering interoperability solutions that connect automation, system integration and information management to unlock the full potential of production gains at lower operating costs.”

Epiroc lifts the lid on automation success in Q2 results

After many years of automation talk, the mining industry finally appears to be investing in this new technology judging by Epiroc’s latest financial results.

The Stockholm-based company reported record revenue of SEK 10.6 billion ($1.13 billion), alongside a 25% year-on-year operating profit increase to SEK 2,263 million in its June quarter financials, but the most interesting elements from this release were comments from the company on automation.

Epiroc says it is a market leader in automation, connectivity and battery-electric vehicles, with the company noting customer interest in, and demand for these solutions, is growing quickly.

In the quarter, the company launched 6th Sense, its new offering of solutions to enable customers to optimise processes by connecting machines, systems and people using automation, information management and system integration, and to achieve higher production at lower operating costs.

Even though it is early days for this initiative, Per Lindberg, President and CEO of Epiroc, said the company has more than 2,500 connected machines on its books; a number that is rapidly increasing.

“For example, for production drill rigs, the number of connected machines has doubled in the last year. We also see that connectivity is an enabler for increased utilisation,” Lindberg said.

In underground drilling, Lindberg said more than 550 of its drill rigs are equipped for complete automation of the drilling process and, in surface drilling, it has the largest installed base of autonomous rotary drill rigs. On the latter, the world’s first fully autonomous SmartROC D65 down-the-hole drill rig is now operating in Canada, it said.

“Also, the interest in our next generation underground battery-electric vehicles continues to be strong and we received more orders for these machines in the quarter,” the company said.

Epiroc to connect machines, systems and people with ‘6th Sense’

Epiroc is presenting a new approach to the mining and infrastructure industries that combines digitalisation and automation to, it says, boost its customers’ performance.

The “6th Sense” solution addresses a growing need for the two industries to look to digital technologies to enhance productivity, sustainability and safety, according to the company. The approach is the Epiroc way to optimise customers’ processes by connecting machines, systems and people using automation, information management and system integration.

“With 6th Sense comes a great focus on system connectivity, using interoperability to unlock the full potential of automation for production gains at lower operating costs,” the company said.

Helena Hedblom, Epiroc Senior Executive Vice President Mining and Infrastructure, said: “6th Sense is a formula we have developed for getting the right solutions in place and achieving operational excellence in mining and infrastructure operations.

“The name 6th Sense implies that the solution brings something extra and that is just what it does, providing a significant advantage such as track and respond to real-time working conditions and equipment needs.”

One example of Epiroc’s focus on automated and productivity-enhancing solutions comes from the Hollinger mine in Timmins, Canada. Together with long-term partner Newmont Goldcorp, Epiroc has put the world’s first fully autonomous SmartROC D65 surface drill rig in production, it said. The operator can be positioned remotely and perform other tasks while the drill rig completes a full drill pattern autonomously. “Besides increased operator safety, this boosts productivity thanks to Global Navigation Satellite System accuracy, non-stop operations and less wear and tear on drilling tools, reducing production costs and improving reliability,” Epiroc said.

Another example is the new Teleremote e-tramming option for Epiroc’s range of Simba long-hole underground drill rigs. The automation package includes functionalities to monitor, plan and automate drilling operations from onboard the rig or from a remote location. “Not only is the tramming process faster and simpler, the e-tramming function also provides a safer work environment and reduces variability in performance,” Epiroc said.

Hedblom said: “The 6th Sense approach is based on our customers’ needs for implementing digitalisation, automation and new process integrations. We are continuously rolling out new innovative features, always with the customers’ needs in mind.”