Tag Archives: AI

Zyfra presents new ZR RoboDrill autonomous drill rig solution at MINExpo 2021

At MINExpo 2021 in Las Vegas, Zyfra, a Finnish-Russian group of companies specialising in AI and IIoT based solutions for mining and other heavy industries, has presented its new ZR RoboDrill autonomous drill rig solution.

The ZR RoboDrill can improve productivity and personnel safety as well as reduce drilling operation costs, according to Zyfra. The system is designed to autonomously operate one or more drill rigs. This could see execution of the drill plan remotely controlled by an operator who can manage up to four drills at the same time, tracking the status of each machine.

This solution can autonomously change the rig position within the drilling site using an optimised route, the company sats. While moving, it will scan the surrounding area for obstacles, equipment and personnel.

While drilling, the rig’s platform and mast level will be maintained within 0.3° in two planes. The autonomous drill is equipped with an automatic emergency stop system, which can guarantee the safety of personnel in the work zone, according to Zyfra. The operator in the control room can take over control of the drill rig at any time, using respective monitors and all information required for manual remote operation.

Unmanned technologies can keep operators out of zones deemed hazardous because of various mining, geological and technical factors, creating a safe and comfortable working environment as well as reducing the risks to occupational health.

Pavel Rastopshin, Managing Director at the Zyfra Group, says: “Digital transformation and its current stage, automation of mining processes, are key factors for improving efficiency and safety of mining as well as competitiveness of mining companies in the increasingly complex mining, geological, technical and climatic conditions. Zyfra’s mining division has been engaged in the digital transformation of mining businesses for over three decades and our autonomous drill rig solution is another milestone in the transition to unmanned mining operations in the world.”

The new ZR RoboDrill solution is OEM-agnostic and can be installed on most new or used drill rigs. It is compatible with diesel and electric-powered drills, the company says.

Cognecto’s AI-based equipment monitoring solution to be used at FURA’s Sapphire mine

FURA Gems has announced a partnership with India-based Cognecto to improve operational efficiency, sustainability, productivity and decrease the carbon footprint of its Australian mining operation.

Cognecto, which calls itself India’s leading artificial intelligence-based heavy equipment monitoring company, has deployed an integrated custom-built hardware sensor and remote telemetry data protocol for FURA to share the data from its Sapphire mining operations in Queensland to company headquarters in Dubai.

This collaborative effort forges a solution combining heavy equipment monitoring and analytics to empower operational visibility and control wherever and whenever, according to Cognecto. In addition, FURA employees can access real-time fleet updates via a “well-integrated, easy-to-implement, and zero-tech footprint AI platform created by Cognecto to improve operational conditions and enhances safety”, it said.

Operational insights for real-time tracking are delivered using a web interface, while the alerts can be relayed on any commonly used messaging platform. Apart from real-time tracking, the assets are colour coded based on status and precise location on a map, embedded in a customisable dashboard. The performance can be monitored with alerts and helps boost equipment utilisation, while optimising fuel use. All this data is reported to get the number of trips and actual engine run time based on multiple criteria, Cognecto says.

Dibya Baral, Chief Technology Officer of FURA Gems and Managing Director FURA Australia, said: “Technology has been the driver for FURA’s swift initiation and turnaround for new projects. A quick implementation by Team Cognecto helped us achieve operational efficiency and strengthen the project deliverables.

“We look forward to strengthening our association moving forward and continue to improve our Sapphire project. This monitoring system will help us drive operational efficiency and reduce our carbon footprint, making it a win-win for both our business and the magnificent nature of Australia.”

Rohet Sareen, Head of Business Development at Cognecto, said: “The next generation of partnership has just taken place, and we take pride that FURA, a leading gemstone mining giant with very large-scale operations, has partnered with us. Their commitment to the environment and land rehabilitation practices demonstrates their desire to embrace innovative solutions to preserve the environment. We are both equally passionate about sustainability, and we are determined to take it to the next level with FURA’s vision of reducing carbon footprint.”

RPMGlobal adds predictive element to mine maintenance solutions with IMAFS buy

RPMGlobal has entered into a share purchase agreement to acquire Canada-headquartered, inventory optimisation management software company, IMAFS.

As a Software-as-a-Service and cloud-delivered provider of inventory optimisation software, IMAFS has more than 20 years experience developing and selling its flagship IMAFS product, RPMGlobal says.

The IMAFS solution is an inventory management and forecasting software solution that connects to an organisation’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and uses proprietary artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to greatly improve inventory management, according to the company. The product has been designed and built for the sole purpose of optimising the inventory holdings of large asset-intensive companies.

RPM CEO and Managing Director, Richard Mathews (left, pictured with David Batkin, Executive General Manager – Technology Consulting), said: “We are very pleased to have concluded negotiations to acquire IMAFS and are really looking forward to welcoming the Quebec-based IMAFS team into the wider RPM family. The product is a great fit with the existing RPM product suite and further builds on our cloud and optimisation offerings.”

RPM explained: “In the mining industry, management and optimisation, specifically the maintenance, repair and operational (MRO) inventory is critical to ensuring operational continuity and attainment of production targets.

“The key to accurately forecasting any type of inventory is understanding future demand. Mining MRO inventory optimisation is often a unique challenge to solve due to low volume and/or erratic turnover with long lead times, high component costs and the complex logistics associated with operating in remote locations leading to companies over-stocking parts inventory and tying up capital unnecessarily.”

When it comes to mining, properly managing MRO inventory is vital, RPM says. If the plant, or key pieces of equipment (loaders, trucks, conveyors, etc) stop operating because spare parts are not available, a costly operational problem develops. A poor inventory optimisation process can result in a company ordering inventory urgently due to reactive inventory processes rather than predictive inventory processes.

IMAFS has developed a hosted subscription service that, RPM says, allows inventory data to be extracted from a company’s ERP product or Computer Maintenance Management system and analysed programmatically.

IMAFS’ proprietary and cutting-edge algorithms also include AI logic incorporating parameters such as transport mode, carrier, weather, customs, seasonality, holidays, availability, and many other data points. IMAFS will also identify excess or obsolete stock that can be returned or disposed of, according to RPM.

Mathews added: “Four years ago, we acquired iSolutions because we understood the importance of planning maintenance in parallel with production. AMT stands alone when it comes to forecasting the lifecycle cost of an asset using its dynamic lifecycle costing engine. This real-time engine accurately predicts when customers will require major parts and components.

“In other words, by going back to first principles (as AMT does), we can predict the future demand that can be factored into IMAFS’ advanced AI algorithms. That future demand is the critical piece of the puzzle so that IMAFS can optimise procurement and management of critical parts and components.”

Mathews says the AMT solution is used by the major OEM’s and their dealer network. These organisations can take forecasts from their customers into the IMAFS product, thereby assisting them in optimising their spare parts inventory.

“While we haven’t had a product to do this in the past, we have been involved in a number of discussions with dealers and miners to do exactly this,” he said.

Robert Lamarre, IMAFS Founder, said: “It is immensely pleasing to see the passion emanating from the team at RPM to championing inventory optimisation and cloud-driven enterprise integration. We are convinced that the IMAFS product suite will benefit from increased investment and the sales and marketing support that RPM can offer these products right around the world.”

Following completion, Lamarre will continue his involvement with promoting IMAFS through a third-party business partner authorised to market and distribute IMAFS products to customers in North America outside of mining and resources.

The acquisition is expected to close on November 25, 2020 subject to several conditions precedent and customary completion events.

Hitachi CM looks for access to resource industry start-ups with Chrysalix fund investment

Chrysalix Venture Capital, a global venture capital fund with a history of commercialising innovation for resource intensive industries, has announced Hitachi Construction Machinery Co Ltd has invested in the Chrysalix RoboValley Fund.

Hitachi Construction Machinery, a leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, joins a cluster of mining and metals players such as South32, Severstal and Mitsubishi Corp in the fund, and “will leverage Chrysalix’s extensive network in the mining field to strengthen open innovation by connecting with start-ups that possess the latest technologies for mining in areas such as robotic systems, IoT, AI and data analytics”, the company said.

“Chrysalix has made step-change innovations in the metals and mining, manufacturing and machinery industries, through digital solutions and advanced robotics technologies, a major theme of our fund, and we are delighted to welcome Hitachi Construction Machinery to the Chrysalix RoboValley Fund,” Alicia Lenis, Vice President at Chrysalix Venture Capital, said.

Just some of the companies included in Chrysalix’s portfolio include Novamera, which is developing its Sustainable Mining by Drilling technology for narrow-vein mines; and MineSense Technologies, a Vancouver-based start-up developing real-time, sensor-based ore data and sorting solutions for large-scale mines.

Naoyoshi Yamada, Chief Strategy Officer at Hitachi Construction Machinery, said: “We identified Chrysalix as having a valuable network of start-ups in its global innovation ecosystem, and a unique window on innovation opportunities in the mining industry.

“With the trends toward digitalisation, the autonomous operation and electrification of mining machinery, as well as the growing need for solutions to streamline and optimise not only mining machinery but also overall mining operations, many start-ups offer novel technologies and services, and our investment in the Chrysalix RoboValley Fund will enable Hitachi Construction Machinery to tap into these new breakthroughs.”

The Chrysalix RoboValley Fund, Chrysalix says, seeks to achieve significant returns for its investors by enabling resource intensive industries, including energy, mining, construction, infrastructure and mobility, to tap into innovation from high growth start-ups.

BHP targets more mineral discoveries with SensOre JTA pact

SensOre says it has welcomed a wholly-owned subsidiary of BHP as a client for its Data Cube and Discriminant Predictive Targeting® (DPT®) technology.

SensOre and BHP reached agreement on a Letter of Intent in May 2020 and confirmed this in a Joint-Targeting Agreement (JTA) on September 18, SensOre said.

The JTA envisages a phased process training the DPT technology on commodity-specific deposit types and applying the knowledge gained to a pre-determined search space. SensOre stands to benefit through fees for the targeting exercise and potential success-based payments on certain discoveries resulting from the technology, it explained.

Richard Taylor, CEO of SensOre, said: “The JTA is a very positive development for SensOre that has come to fruition over many months of discussion.

“The vast data challenge of cleaning and integrating massive geoscience datasets has in the past been an obstacle to applying big data and machine learning advances to mineral exploration. Through agreements like this, we believe SensOre’s DPT technology will be part of a new wave of discovery in mature markets.”

SensOre aims to become the top performing minerals targeting company in the world through the deployment of artificial intelligence and machine-learning technologies, specifically its DPT workflow. SensOre collects all available geological information in a terrane and places it in a multi-dimensional hypercube or Data Cube, with its big data approach allowing DPT predictive analytics to accurately predict known endowment and generate targets for further discovery, it says.

SensOre recently committed to a joint project with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation looking at automation and efficiency in big data cleaning and processing solutions for the mineral resource sector.

KPMG KIC winner proposes new way to improve mineral extraction

A team from the Indian Institute of Technology (Indian School of Mines) has been crowned champions of KPMG’s KPMG Ideation Challenge (KIC) 2020 for developing a solution that brings disruptive innovation to the mining industry.

The solution, KPMG says, could help enable safer and more sustainable extraction of minerals and metals.

The 17th annual KIC took place on August 24-25, 2020, with the hackathon-style competition taking place virtually for the first time. It gathered both science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and business students to help solve real-world business issues with artificial intelligence and other emerging technology-based tools and solutions.

Out of more than 8,000 applicants across 19 countries, 17 student teams were chosen from 500 leading universities to advance to the final phase of the event. The top three finalist teams were the Indian Institute of Technology (Indian School of Mines) from Dhanbad, India, Zhejiang University in China, and University of Florida in the US.

Team NAVACHARITAM (Technology Replaces Repetitiveness) from the Indian Institute of Technology was announced as the KIC winner.

The team’s solution, which used a custom algorithm, sensor imaging and drone technology, is designed to more precisely pinpoint the exact location of minerals to be extracted, resulting in considerable reductions of air pollution, time and cost, as well as improvements to worker safety. The winning team members (pictured above) are: Sanchit Kumar, Varnika Kumari, Parth Hetamsaria and Srajan Gupta. The team is currently in the process of patenting their solution.

Phil Thornley, Partner with KPMG Australia and a Lead Practitioner with KPMG’s Global Lighthouse Center of Excellence for Data, AI and Emerging Technologies, said: “The panel of judges selected the student team from the Indian Institute of Technology because they addressed a problem with global relevance – safety and sustainability in the mining industry – and developed a solution that was commercially and technically viable. This technology shows great promise; it has the potential to offer significant safety, environmental and cost benefits.”

The winning team will receive $50,000 in seed funding to bring their idea to market with coaching and guidance from KPMG professionals. All participating teams retain intellectual property rights for their ideas and solutions, according to KPMG.

Nokia’s Jadoul on keeping miners safe amid COVID-19

Workplace safety is a major objective of every mining company on the planet, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, for the first time perhaps, the primary danger may simply be getting too close while talking to our fellow team members, Marc Jadoul*, Strategic Marketing Director at Nokia, says.

In the mining industry, we are going to have to adapt our business practices to accommodate the current pandemic, and we have to be better prepared for similar events in the future. The pandemic has led to a re-thinking of certain safety protocols, procedures and personal protection, and it is accelerating the adoption of recent innovations that will improve workplace safety in other ways as well.

As the world has re-opened the economy, organisations such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the US and the World Health Organization (WHO) have published recommendations for how to operate manufacturing and other business operations while still practicing social distancing and other aspects of workplace safety. These include having office employees telework where possible, staggering shifts to reduce the number of workers using lunch, break and washrooms at the same time, increasing physical space between employees in the workplace, wearing masks and even downsizing operations if necessary.

Given COVID-19’s ability to be spread by individuals who do not show symptoms, it is generally acknowledged that tracking contacts will be a key way to identify those who might have been exposed to a sick employee. Knowing the cost to the business of having to shut down a facility due to illness, management will need to work with public health authorities to implement practices that allow for the quick identification of suspected contacts, allow for testing and quarantine of workers in the case of an outbreak in their operation and, in some jurisdictions, be able to show compliance with these practices.

Marc Jadoul, Strategic Marketing Director at Nokia

The technologies needed to do this are not so far away. In fact, they already exist in industries where operating environments have residual risks or require robust control measures in ways that are similar to what will be needed to protect people from contracting the virus. Some of these practices have already been implemented in mines as well as nuclear facilities and high-tech chip fabricators. With some adaptation, it is not hard to see how these technologies can be adapted more broadly to make the mine workplace of the future nearly virus-free.

From a larger safety management perspective, the ultimate goal is to create a real-time, dynamic picture of what is happening with people, assets and environmental conditions at all times – what is known as ‘situational awareness’. It is crucial for conducting forensic analysis to understand the pattern of interactions and identify possible transmission paths so as to limit exposure and trigger remediation protocols, including testing and quarantining. Much of this already exists, but simply needs to be adapted to the current outbreak.

The ultimate objective of situational awareness is having 360° visibility of people, assets, infrastructure and environmental conditions. Because what you don’t see, you can’t manage. Which is important, not only for saving lives, but also for preventing productivity losses and increasing operational efficiency.

This full digital awareness of everything going on in the workplace is the main thrust of Industry 4.0, which brings together several technology streams: low-powered IoT sensors, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, edge computing and next-generation wireless connectivity. These technologies combine to allow for the automation of repetitive processes, improved efficiency of operations, preventative maintenance of assets, quality control and enhanced situational awareness.

Applying these technologies to deal with COVID-19 will help to solve many of the new workplace constraints identified above. For instance, there are types of digital smart personal protective equipment (PPE) that incorporate wearable sensors and communications devices. They communicate with the operations control centre and could be used to trace employee movements, enforce geo-fenced areas deemed too dangerous for entry, or sense environmental contaminants and warn employees who have had excessive exposure to leave the area and follow decontamination protocols.

With some small adjustments, smart PPE and wearables could be deployed in many operations to enforce safe distancing between employees, using software to digitally map out work zones. They could warn employees when they are entering crowded areas or no-go zones. They could improve safety and efficiency during mustering and evacuation. And they could also enable management to forensically track past exposure of employees to those who have tested positive for the virus.

With the ongoing spread of COVID-19, mining companies need to find ways to enforce physical distancing among miners in order to keep operations open and miners safe

If sifting through location data for all the employees in a large mine sounds like a nightmare, this is where AI comes to the rescue. Sophisticated analytics software already exists that can analyse location data to look for correlations. It isn’t much of a stretch to adapt this software to smart PPE data that tracks worker movements in the facility – as long as unions and laws allow for it. This kind of software also exists to analyse video footage from CCTV cameras. All of this analysis can be used to trace infection vectors and to re-assure health authorities that protocols are being enforced on the job site.

One of the important enablers of Industry 4.0 use cases is the existence of highly reliable, secure wireless connectivity. The key to end-to-end awareness of operations is ubiquitous connectivity. Because of privacy concerns, that connectivity should be very secure. To support video and the large amount of data that can be generated within a fully automated facility, it also has to have bandwidth capacity as well as be able to support low latency edge computing. Geo-positioning and geo-fencing services for employees and mobile machines need more precise coordinates than can be provided by GPS – and need to work underground and in-building as well as on surface.

Delivering all these essential capabilities is fortunately available with today’s 4.9G/LTE and tomorrow’s 5G industrial wireless networks. Early generation wireless technologies, such as Wi-Fi, were designed for connectivity to best-effort networks. They are not highly reliable, secure or capable of providing mobility and geo-positioning services. Cellular-based 4G services, on the other hand, have been used in public mobile networks for a decade and have never been compromised. 5G is designed to be even more secure and has a number of features, like ultra-low latency, that are specifically intended for industrial automation use cases.

COVID-19 is likely to be a reality we have to live with for several years. If we are lucky and develop a vaccine quickly, it may be a short-term problem. But the scientists have been warning us about the possibility of pandemics of this nature for decades. This will not be the last. The good news is that the same Industry 4.0 technologies that are transforming our workplaces can be harnessed in this fight. Industrial IoT, edge computing, AI/machine learning and industrial-strength wireless networking will play a key role in ensuring the safety of our workers and our ability to come out of this crisis stronger than before.

*Marc Jadoul leads Nokia’s marketing efforts for the mining industry, working with key stakeholders across the business to evangelise digital technologies for creating safer, more efficient and productive mines

Yamana lets GoldSpot loose on Cerro Moro exploration database

Following recent successes at El Peñón, GoldSpot Discoveries Corp has been reengaged by Yamana Gold  to use machine learning to identify new drilling targets at the Cerro Moro gold and silver mine, in Argentina.

Yamana has commissioned GoldSpot’s team of geologists and data scientists to examine its entire database and look for previously unrecognised data trends to identify areas of potential mineralisation at depth and on a regional scale, it said. By engaging GoldSpot, Yamana seeks to minimise exploration risk and mitigate exploration and drilling costs, the company added.

“GoldSpot will use its geoscience and machine science expertise to clean, unify and analyse exploration data from Yamana’s Cerro Moro mine and produce 2D and 3D targets for the exploration program,” GoldSpot said. “GoldSpot will also deliver new geophysical, geochemical and geological products produced through the reprocessing of the satellite images and other relevant layers which will help interpretations and mineralisation models.”

Denis Laviolette, Executive Chairman and President of GoldSpot, said the new contract with Yamana validates its work, thus far. “Yamana has been an incredible supporter of GoldSpot and we are proud to be a part of their digital transformation,” he said.

GoldSpot was previously commended for its use of machine learning technology to improve exploration targeting and also contribute to the meaningful increases in mineral resource inventory at Yamana’s El Peñón mine.

Henry Marsden, Senior Vice President, Exploration, at Yamana, said in February: “The collaborative AI process undertaken with GoldSpot has allowed Yamana’s exploration team to leverage many years of multidisciplinary exploration data and is playing a significant role in the current exploration targeting process at El Peñón. We are pleased with the progress that our partnership with GoldSpot has yielded so far and look forward to continued success.”

Augmentir AI solution helps HOLT CAT optimise maintenance, repair and service ops

Augmentir Inc is to work with HOLT CAT, the largest Caterpillar machine and engine dealer in the US, to create, it says, an artificial intelligence-led platform for its maintenance, repair and service operations.

Augmentir calls itself a leading provider of AI-based connected worker software for industrial companies, while HOLT CAT sells, services and rents Cat equipment, engines and generators for construction, mining, industrial, petroleum and agricultural applications.

“With the selection and rollout of Augmentir’s connected worker software platform, HOLT CAT continues its commitment to delivering innovation in heavy equipment and engine service and repair,” Augmentir said.

Augmentir’s software platform will allow HOLT CAT to move from paper-based to digital, augmented work instructions for service, maintenance, and repair procedures; accelerate onboarding and training times for new technicians; provide instant training for novice technicians; and improve overall efficiency and tracking using Augmentir’s AI-based operational insights, it said.

Brandon Acosta, Vice President of Enterprise Operations for HOLT CAT, said the company needed a software platform that could help it reduce on-boarding time for new technicians and help to reduce the variability in its standard job times.

“The Augmentir platform provides us with an easy-to-use set of tools to deliver rich guided procedures to our technicians helping them perform at their peak,” he said.

“Furthermore, as we continue along our journey with Salesforce Field Service Lightning, we truly believe that the seamless connectivity of Augmentir with that platform will empower our technical staff within one end-to-end digital environment; not just what to do, but how to do it.”

Augmentir’s Connected Worker Platform is a suite of AI-powered tools designed to help manufacturing and service teams improve operations, close skills gaps, capture “tribal knowledge”, and drive continuous improvement efforts, according to the company.

“The platform provides tools to help teams author and publish digital work instructions and workflows and also provides an industrial collaboration solution to support remote work scenarios,” Augmentir says. “In addition, the platform delivers AI-based organisation-wide insights and recommendations that focus on improving the quality and productivity of frontline workers.”

Russ Fadel, CEO and Co-Founder of Augmentir, said: “Our AI-based Connected Worker platform helps industrial companies to intelligently close skills gaps so that the entire workforce can perform at its peak. Additionally, our AI-based True Opportunity™ system helps companies identify the areas of largest capturable opportunity and make recommendations on how to capture them.”

With this selection, HOLT CAT believes it will be able to utilise the Augmentir platform in other areas of its remanufacturing and rebuild operations, and also implement a more seamless integration across its business systems and workflows, according to Augmentir.

Windfall Geotek adds drones to AI-driven exploration tech offering

Mining technology services company, Windfall Geotek, says it has launched a new drone-based solution for artificial intelligence (AI) driven digital exploration in mining.

A services company using AI with a portfolio of gold, copper and zinc properties in Quebec, Canada, Windfall Geotek has been using AI and advanced knowledge-extraction techniques since 2005 in the mining sector. EagleEyeTM leverages this experience, it said.

Michel Fontaine, President and CEO of Windfall Geotek, said: “Our new services have allowed us to bring to market the survey, sensor, and AI-driven software for digital exploration. Our ability, in the mining sector, to find targets is directly tied to the quality of the source data we receive from our customers.

“EagleEye will allow us to work more closely with our customers, generating a better return for their investors with our CARDSTM AI-generated targets.”

Windfall’s CARDS (Computer Aided Resources Detection System) solution consumes open data from around the world to identify a high statistical probability of target identification within known areas of interest, the company said.

Don Moore, CEO of Playfair Exploration, a previous user of Windfall Geotek’s technology, said: “Windfall Geotek’s experience in collecting and analysing data has been proven over the past 15 years. We recently worked closely with Michel and his team on a great project in Finland.”

EagleEye will begin tests in mining sector with the acquisition and analysis of survey data. The company plans to partner with operators of leading surveying companies to obtain geophysical data and generate potential drill targets using drones, modified sensors, and the CARDS AI software system, it said.