Tag Archives: augmented reality

Ecolab uses mixed reality to troubleshoot process water problem at phosphate mine

Ecolab’s Remote Assist program has leveraged mixed-reality technology to overcome COVID-19 restrictions and provide critical, speedy customer support to a mining company in the Middle East.

The company, a customer of Nalco Water, an Ecolab company, was suffering from an unknown mechanical issue, which impacted chemical dosing for process water treatment. As a result, the phosphate mine was facing a potentially costly disruption of its activities.

“Not too long ago, the mine’s remote location of approximately 1,400 km away from the nearest technician might have led to operations being curtailed for several days,” Ecolab said. “Challenges created by the pandemic further hindering the technician’s ability to travel could have made the outcome even more bleak. However, by leveraging mixed-reality tools that combine elements of virtual reality and augmented reality to create a blend of the physical and digital world – in this case, a hands-free tablet-class wearable computer – Ecolab’s mining division was able to come to the rescue in a timeframe that would have been unthinkable just a few short years ago.”

Connecting with a senior engineer at the treatment plant, the Nalco Water technician was able to communicate in real time, inspecting the equipment to gain an understanding of the operational challenges on site. Safely working together in a virtual environment, the two associates were able to quickly diagnose the issue and replace the component that was ultimately behind the problem.

“Service that would otherwise have required two days of travel was completed in just one hour, saving travel costs, maintaining social distancing and reducing the carbon footprint,” Ecolab said.

As well as offering mining and mineral processing programs that combine chemistry, automation and control technology to help plants optimise production, Nalco Water’s proprietary 3D TRASAR™ smart water treatment system has enabled the company to offer the benefits of remote monitoring and troubleshooting on over 40,000 units installed worldwide, Ecolab said.

Arjan Boogaards, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Global Mining & Mineral Processing, Nalco Water, said: “We have greatly optimised productivity for our customers with these innovations, but, inevitably, the occasional mechanical issue will call for service and support that is outside of the scope of smart controllers and automation on site. That’s where we can apply mixed-reality technology and continue to transform the future of service and support by enabling expedient, accessible issue resolution. We can help connect our customers to a global infrastructure of research, innovation, engineering and digital experts in a faster and more efficient way.”

Ecolab’s Remote Assist program incorporates mobile applications that can connect to a remote collaborator. Through live video calling, annotations and sharing high-resolution snapshots with the remote collaborator, users can co-operate to troubleshoot problems quickly, according to the company.

Use of the latest mixed-reality technology enables Ecolab to gain remote access to its customers’ facilities in several beneficial ways. Its sales and technical representatives in the field can wear mixed reality devices for a “digital focus first, real-world focus second” approach to basic digital training in safe environments, Ecolab said.

Mixed reality also enables them to virtually connect to Ecolab’s scientists, engineers and cross-functional teams for support. This enables them to remotely diagnose and troubleshoot issues around contamination, oversee chemistry usage, guide the installation of new equipment, monitor water and process conditions and, ultimately, implement solutions that maximise customer productivity.

“This is most definitely an approach both we and our clients will continue with, even after COVID-19 has become a bad memory,” Boogaards said. “The pandemic has sped up the process for many companies to adopt digital tools, and they are dramatically improving their operations. The time and money savings are undeniable, so companies that do not make use of these tools could place themselves at a competitive disadvantage. We’re clearly entering a new era.”

ANDRITZ ups the filtration ante with new ME2500 filter press

ANDRITZ has introduced a new filter press, the ME2500, to complete its range of “proven” A4F and the SE series filter presses for the mining and minerals industry.

The ME2500 is the best-fit for fast processing of tailings (also with high clay content) or mining concentrates like iron, copper, lead or zinc, the company says. The new model has an hourly processing capacity of up to 450 kg/sq.m, a filtration area of up to 840 sq.m, and features chained plates for faster filter cake discharge. These attributes enable the highest throughputs without compromising on safety, while reflecting a customer focus on saving water, ANDRITZ says.

The innovative closure system on the ME2500 largely replaces hydraulic components with electrical ones and further reduces cycle times, thus increasing capacity and operating availability.

“The increased use of electrical components enables highly sustainable operation of the filter press by reducing the amount of hydraulic oil needed, as well as improving safety thanks to more precise control and less reliance on high-pressure lines that are susceptible to leaks,” the company said.

In addition, and to further optimise the productivity of single machines or plants with multiple filter presses, all modules of the ANDRITZ intelligent filter press – controlled by the Metris addIQ control system – are also available for the ME2500 filter press and can be provided with the full range of options. This draws on smart sensors, data analytics and augmented reality, including multiple sensors to allow for online safety monitoring of the plate package and moveable parts.

The company concluded: “The safe disposal of tailings generated by the mining and minerals sector is a significant cost factor for the industry. ANDRITZ is known for its innovative range of overhead and sidebar filter presses that meet the industry’s most stringent requirements with regard to fast cake discharge and saving water and costs. The maintenance-friendly equipment from ANDRITZ is easily upgradeable, with a modular design for customised process solutions.”

Rajant to showcase Kinetic Mesh networking advantages at Mining World Russia

Rajant Corp, the provider of Kinetic Mesh® wireless networks, is to attend Mining World Russia, taking place at Moscow’s Crocus Expo.

The international trade show, which is in its 25th year exhibiting machines and equipment for mining, processing and transportation of minerals, takes place on April 20-22, 2021, with Rajant joining its partners.

Showcasing collaborative solutions for fully-mobile mining connectivity will be Rajant’s Russia-based distributor CompTek and technology providers LANIT, AMT-GROUP, CROC, DCLogic, NEMAN and SATEL.

Showcased alongside Rajant’s networking will be LANIT’s virtual reality/augmented reality “smart glasses”.

Equipped with a video camera and compact screen, this technological solution’s software operates over the Rajant network and enables visualisation of on-site observations to command centres for collaborative off-site expertise to complete all phases of the mining mission successfully.

“You need a Mission Critical network to enable AR in hard-to-reach challenging locations,” Nikita Ivanov, CompTek’s Head of Sales, said. “CompTek’s integration partners in Russia and the CIS are committed to evolving mining’s overall productivity, safety and efficiency. With Rajant and its partners, a fully digitalised mine is possible.”

Rajant says its partnership with CompTek, a Russia-based distributor of network and telecommunications equipment, has brought together other Eastern Europe and CIS partners to demonstrate support of machine-to-machine connectivity and mobility for open-pit and underground mining.

Marcin Kusztal, Sales Director Eastern Europe and CIS for Rajant, says Rajant’s network is “unique”.

He added: “Our Kinetic Mesh BreadCrumb® nodes overcome the mine’s constantly changing conditions, which hinder connectivity and real-time application support, with industrial wireless networking that is unwavering in adverse and mobile environments.

“Rajant’s self-optimising Kinetic Mesh nodes work via multiple-frequency, peer-to-peer connections. Plus, the BreadCrumbs can be fixed or mobile, ensuring a mining operation’s continuous productivity and safety.”

Arvizio and Sight Power look to optimise the mining process with digital collaboration

Arvizio has announced a partnership with Sight Power that, they say, will see the two firms offer stakeholders a seamless integration of mining data, 3D models and LiDAR scans to be shared between Sight Power’s Digital Mine™ platform and Arvizio’s Immerse 3D augmented reality (AR) solution.

The combination provides the industry with a powerful, integrated suite of mining operations software and AR to optimise the mining process by reducing costs, improving efficiencies, increasing productivity and enhancing safety, the companies say.

“Digital transformation is a major trend across all aspects of mining and AR is emerging as a key component to incorporate and visualise mine planning data in the design, planning, operations, resource management and investor relations processes,” the companies said.

Digital Mine is a system for collecting and processing detailed information relating to all operations and work processes in the mining enterprise, according to Sight Power. This information, when merged with modelling, monitoring and distributed sensor systems, offers a cohesive solution to automate daily, routine operations for geologists, mining engineers, mine surveyors and other specialists resulting in increased labour productivity and reduction in technical errors, it said.

Arvizio’s Immerse 3D allows 3D models and LiDAR scans, used with Digital Mine, to be visualised in AR. The hybrid-rendering and advanced model optimisation capabilities of Immerse 3D can visualise LiDAR scans and geological models from mining operations that may cover many kilometres and include multiple layers.

“Further, Immerse 3D enhances the Sight Power Digital Mine platform by extending the capabilities of Digital Mine to include multi-user, multi-location AR visualisation and collaboration in fully synchronised sessions utilising web meeting platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom,” the companies said.

Sergey Reznichenko, CEO at Sight Power, said: “Our work with leading mining companies using Digital Mine demonstrated that combine operational technology, monitoring systems, devices and spatial datasets into a single workflow system streamlines mining operations at every phase.

“We are delighted to team with Arvizio to integrate Immerse 3D AR visualisation into our workflows and use augmented reality to empower stakeholders around the world for a more efficient exchange of information, problem solving, verification of key operations and safety systems in their mining projects.”

The Immerse 3D platform extension enhances capabilities of Digital Mine technology using AR in these, and other, scenarios:

  • Supporting staff training and equipment repairs to reduce operational costs and downtime;
  • Extending digital twin capabilities for processing plants for real-time monitoring;
  • Real-time virtual presence at mining site; and
  • On-going evaluation of mine evolution models to identify issues and avoid costly overruns.

Vuzix Smart Glasses keep Rio global teams connected at Oyu Tolgoi Underground

Rio Tinto has deployed Vuzix Smart Glasses at the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine in Mongolia to continue progressing the development of the underground project in the face of travel restrictions tied to COVID-19.

Vuzik, a supplier of smart glasses and augmented reality technology and products, says the company is using its smart glasses to enable technical experts from all over the world to work with local teams on the underground project.

Rio, in its 2020 Annual Report, said it had been increasing its use of drones and mine pit cameras, and introduced video headsets (including smart glasses) to conduct visual inspections of tailings facilities and equipment while complying with travel restrictions and physical distance requirements.

“Vuzix Smart Glasses usage continues to expand across an ever-widening array of industry verticals,” Paul Travers, Vuzix President and Chief Executive Officer, said. “Companies like Rio Tinto, which is a global leader in its field, continue to provide validation of the value and effectiveness of our products in real world situations.”

Collaboration key to unlocking digital transformation, BHP’s Bourke says

BHP has already made great strides in digitalising its processes at mine site and operations centres, but Pat Bourke, VP of Technology for Minerals Australia at BHP, says collaboration will play a critical role in helping the company leverage further operational and safety gains.

Speaking at the IMARC Online event today, he gave examples of how BHP is combining “lean concepts” with digital solutions to improve its performance through in-house collaboration.

One such example was the company’s Maintenance and Engineering Centre of Excellence, which develops advanced maintenance strategies based on data analysis to decide on what assets to maintain, when to maintain them and how to maintain them for “superior performance”.

The BHP Operating System, meanwhile, supports the company’s “front line” to improve day-to-day operations through the use of standard systems underpinned by technology, he said.

“To fully capture the next wave of productivity at speed, we need to integrate technology and our digital solutions with these initiatives,” Bourke said, explaining that this will further enhance the company’s agenda of safety and productivity.

He then moved onto the external collaboration side, saying one of the critical elements to unlocking digital transformation was the ability to collaborate within the broader ecosystem as well.

“We can do a lot as an organisation…and as an industry…in partnership with our supplier, communities and government to solve for the future,” Bourke said. “We can do even more when we effectively combine our capabilities and bring multiple partners to collaborate on shared problems.”

Thinking differently about who the company connects and creates synergies with has led BHP to find partners outside its usual circles such as the Australian Defence Force, it said. This partnership, in particular, has seen the organisations collaborate on workforce learning, culture, technology, training and shared apprenticeships.

“Through these synergies, we can stack hands together to gain further insights and understand the similarities around areas such as quantum technologies, automation and cyber defences, for example,” Bourke said.

And, even during COVID-19, the company has been collaborating to produce productivity outcomes.

This has seen it work with Microsoft to deploy augmented reality headsets that combine video with advanced 3D sensing technologies, allowing BHP engineering teams based in the Perth office, some 1,300 km away from the Pilbara operations, to oversee complex installation of mine equipment remotely.

“But it’s not just the big partners who are helping us to find a competitive edge,” Bourke said. “In today’s world we know we need to innovate and deploy new technologies even more quickly to keep up with the pace of change.”

A collaboration with start-up Plotlogic is seeing BHP pilot precision mining technology, for instance.

“This technology will map the face of a pit wall to provide a detailed view of ore versus waste,” Bourke explained. “This type of precision mining will give us the step change in productivity that we are chasing to improve the quality of the ore we extract…this will enable further efficiencies.”

Earlier this year, Plotlogic confirmed it had signed its first contract to embed OreSense, its new AI ore characterisation technology, into an iron ore mine site of BHP’s in the Pilbara of Western Australia. This technology uses hyperspectral analysis and AI to optimise ore recovery on mine sites.

Plotlogic’s vision is to enable autonomous mining operations using precise grade control with its new AI ore-characterisation technology, bringing technology that can “see and grade ore” to optimise operations and maximise yield, it says.

Orica on the right Track with new digital blasting solutions

Orica’s suite of rock movement, blast fragmentation and digital blast optimisation solutions have been gaining traction of late, with miners across the globe employing or trialling the products as they look to improve mine site performance.

Ahead of the annual Explosives and Blasting feature (to be published in the International Mining July/August 2020 issue), IM spoke with Rajkumar Mathiravedu, Vice President of Digital Solutions at Orica, to get an update on progress with the company’s digital solutions.

Back in Orica’s 2019 full-year results, Orica mentioned it had secured its first customers in Latin America for its ORETrack™ solution, which provides RFID-based tracking of rock movement from blasting operations.

Mathiravedu said these first adopters were recognising the value delivered by the technology, with ORETrack working well in the initial applications.

“We are also continuing to co-develop and expand our ORETrack technology in collaboration with customers in Latin America, with additional customers adopting the ore tracking capability,” he said.

“Further trials are also planned for the near future, including locations in Australia and North America.”

The number of customers taking up Orica’s FRAGTrack™ solution, which provides blast fragmentation data with auto-analysis capability, meanwhile, has been growing in the face of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Orica carried out its first fully remote installation of FRAGTrack during lockdown in Australia, with a second in Finland and a third one completed in North America recently.

Mathiravedu said a key focus in developing the solution, which captures real-time fragmentation measurement data for downstream unit productivity improvement and tracking of operational performance, was ensuring it was “a plug and play solution” that could be installed and supported remotely.

“We developed rigorous training material and installation instructions and married these with real-time augmented reality capability to remotely guide and support our customers through the implementation,” he said.

“We have found this particularly advantageous during the COVID-19 restrictions, but also this allows our customers to manage the implementation timing to suit their operations.”

An example of this could be the desire for a customer to install FRAGTrack when the shovels are down for maintenance, without having to wait for an Orica specialist to come to the site and install the system.

Reflecting on the recent remote installation achievements, Mathiravedu said: “This proves we have a successful remote release model that customers are valuing during these unprecedented times.”

BlastIQ workflow integration

Fifteen months after the release of its next generation BlastIQ, Orica has now surpassed the 60-site implementation mark of its digital blast optimisation platform.

Mathiravedu said BlastIQ and the company’s ever-growing digital capabilities are designed to improve blast outcomes by integrating insights from digitally connected technologies at every stage of the drill and blast process to drive continuous improvements for its customers.

“Focusing on the needs of our surface mining customers, we have been able to deliver the benefits of cloud-based technology, providing convenience and flexibility for customers to access their blasting data online anywhere, anytime from any device,” he said.

“Customers are also benefitting significantly from digitising their blasting workflows, delivering efficiencies and improved quality control across their blasting operations, resulting in greater visibility of blast inputs and outputs in real time while benefiting from better blast outcomes.”

As an open, secure, and connected digital platform, BlastIQ’s blast-related data is being integrated directly into customers’ mining value chain and remote operation centres via secure cloud-based APIs, Mathiravedu said.

“This is enabling customers to drive better mine-level decisions based on data integrations between our platform and theirs, creating a stronger bond between planning, drilling, blasting, load and haul and processing operations at the site,” he said.

BlastIQ is an inter-operable platform and is being delivered as a Software as a Service product to customers, meaning they receive new functionality, value and features as soon as they are developed, according to Mathiravedu.

“Enhancements are scheduled and developed based on direct feedback and submissions from our customers all around the world to ensure the product evolves to meet the discrete needs of their operations,” he said.

Outside of BlastIQ specifically, Orica has started to deliver digital optimisation services to its customers, according to Mathiravedu.

“State-of-the-art” digital products and advanced data science and analytics, combined with blasting technical know-how and market-leading blasting technologies, enables customers to cover whole of value chain solutions, enabled by blasting, Mathiravedu said.

“Also, using a series of industry 4.0 smart Internet of Things sensors and Edge computing to replace inefficient manual processes, measurement data can be used in real time to improve future mining outcomes based on data science, analytics and machine-learning algorithms to drive continuous improvement of the entire mining value chain.”

Librestream sets sights on augmented reality growth with latest financing

Librestream is looking to expand the reach of its augmented worker enterprise solutions thanks to the raising of another C$24 million ($17.7 million) from new and existing investors.

This Series D raise brings total financing to over C$55 million, the company said.

The financing will be used to accelerate customer acquisition and growth in expanded geographic and vertical markets, Librestream said.

“As a core part of this growth, the company will invest in sales and marketing expansion and the advancement of its Onsight augmented worker platform,” it added.

Librestream’s Onsight augmented reality enterprise platform has been built to perform in rugged environment including areas with extremely low bandwidth. Backed by central management, Onsight offers valuable insights through robust data analytics and dashboards, the company says.

Onsight Connect remote expert software delivers a fully collaborative environment to rapidly troubleshoot, inspect, and resolve issues in the field, according to the company, leveraging advanced AI and IoT visualisation capabilities to create intelligent data that enhances decision making and informs machine-learning models.

The Connect software powers a full range of mobile devices including smartphones, tablets, computers, and smart glasses. When integrated with advanced computer vision (CV) artificial intelligence, Onsight CV recognises the content of digital images and extracts text, objects, and any other identifying markers using Object Character Recognition (OCR) and object classification and detection.

The platform includes IoT visualisation capabilities to inform decisions by displaying aggregated IoT data from relevant sensors onscreen. Using IoT visualisation, workers can access this information through OCR and view the data in graphs, charts or tables.

“Deployed globally, Onsight scales with your operation,” the company said. “Controlled and secured by a robust back-end management solution and infrastructure, Connect meets the needs of the most stringent IT and security environments.”

One of the companies to use Onsight technology is Australia-based Orica, a provider of commercial explosives and innovative blasting systems, sodium cyanide for gold extraction, and ground support services.

The company, Librestream says, has been using the augmented worker enterprise solution to assist with the deployment of new, complex equipment in remote areas like mountainous regions of Latin America, the deserts of Australia and the plains of South Africa.

“This equipment is extremely specialised and requires workers to follow explicit instructions to capture data around the machinery,” Librestream says of Orica’s offering.

Much of the use of Onsight revolves around worker safety as Orica deals in explosives for mining applications, Librestream said. “However, it has also brought about increased efficiency as well.”

Orica is also looking closely at leveraging Onsight for asset identification and remote assistance in its flagship blasting products, according to the company.

Librestream says it experienced tremendous growth over the past 36 months as the needs of the remote workforce and immersive technologies became top priorities for digital transformation. This saw the size of customer deployments grow by more than 250%.

John Bishop, President & CEO at Librestream, said: “Digital transformation initiatives traditionally focused on digitising systems and assets, often leaving people out of the equation.

“Librestream’s focus on providing workers with a digital connection to information enables safe, effective performance – whether on an oil rig, a manufacturing floor, or in an aircraft hangar.”

Emerson bolts on AR solution for improved remote maintenance capabilities

Emerson has added augmented reality (AR) technology to its Plantweb™ Optics asset performance platform as it looks to deliver enhanced access to real-time diagnostics and analytics, as well as live remote assistance, to those responsible for maintaining and optimising plant equipment.

With AR technology integrated into Plantweb Optics, companies can improve productivity, collaboration and operational performance without being limited by shortages of skilled workers or travel restrictions, the company said.

Stuart Harris, Group President for Emerson’s Digital Transformation Business, said: “Successful digital transformation programs that lead to top quartile performance have people and work practices as a key focus. Adopting innovative technology like augmented reality and institutionalising best practices enable workers to add more value than ever to operational and business performance.

“With these new Plantweb Optics technologies, customers can experience significant improvements in equipment reliability and the safety of their facilities.”

Plantweb Optics leverages artificial intelligence, machine learning analytics and data contextualisation to provide real-time visibility into plant reliability and operational performance, according to the company.

“Unlike standalone AR solutions that require custom engineering, AR is integrated into Plantweb Optics, providing immediate access to a wealth of data and translating into easier, less costly implementation and a faster return on investment,” Emerson said.

In use at metals and mining operations, Plantweb Optics is part of Emerson’s Plantweb digital ecosystem of technologies, software and services.

“Augmented reality for Plantweb Optics transforms the way field technicians accomplish complex tasks through enhanced situational awareness, live remote assistance and analytics delivered in context of the plant,” the company said. “As a field technician walks an industrial plant with a mobile device, Plantweb Optics uses spatial computing technology to map assets and provide technicians with critical maintenance information relevant to their location. Plantweb Optics overlays real-time analytics, equipment health status and technical support documentation on their field of view, so technicians can safely resolve issues sooner.”

With live remote assistance, field technicians can be virtually shadowed by experts, either on-site or off-site, from Emerson, their own company or another service provider. Experts can talk, type or augment the technician’s mobile display with graphics to guide the next action, according to the company.

“Live remote assistance enables technicians and experts to collaborate for safe troubleshooting and repairs, regardless of location and without travel costs,” Emerson said. “Live remote assistance sessions, best practices and notes from experienced engineers and step-by-step troubleshooting procedures can be logged into a knowledge library for use by all engineers at a site.”

Trimble improves project visualisation with new laser scanner and AR technology

Trimble has introduced a new laser scanning system that, it says, enables professionals of all scanning levels to quickly and easily capture precise 3D data to produce “high-quality deliverables”, alongside an outdoor augmented reality (AR) solution to improve planning, collaboration and reporting.

The Trimble X7 3D laser scanner (pictured) is an integrated solution with specialised field software, featuring simple and streamlined workflows. It is able to provide automatic registration of point cloud data in the field with Trimble Registration Assist, while Smart Trimble X-Drive technology eliminates the need for annual calibration. The scanner also comes equipped with survey-grade self-levelling to ensure consistent data quality.

The X7 comes with a Microsoft Windows-based Trimble T10 tablet for control and project visibility, along with a backpack and lightweight tripod for portability, it said.

Gregory Lepere, Marketing Director, Optical and Imaging for Trimble Geospatial, said the ability of the Trimble X7 to deliver high-speed 3D laser scanning with intuitive workflows and unique technologies has led to the automation of critical steps to improve efficiency and productivity.

“The X7 is a useful, everyday tool because it doesn’t require scanning expertise to operate. It opens the door for more construction, surveying, industrial and forensics professionals to confidently capture and deliver scan data and realise a faster return on investment.”

For surveyors and geospatial professionals, the X7 provides fast and balanced performance in both indoor and outdoor environments and can be used in numerous surveys, including those routinely carried out in mining.

The Trimble X7 solution is integrated with the new Trimble Perspective software, which the company says is specifically designed for in-field control and complete registration.

“The combination enables scans and images to be captured, fully registered together, refined, controlled and exported to a variety of established data format for Trimble and non-Trimble software suites,” the company said.

The Trimble X7 is expected to be available in the March quarter of 2020 through Trimble’s authorised distribution networks, the company said.

In addition to this new scanner, the company also announced the release of its Trimble SiteVision™ system, an outdoor augmented reality (AR) solution to enable users to visualise 2D and 3D data on “virtually any project site” with cellular or internet connectivity for easier and more efficient planning, collaboration and reporting.

The Trimble SiteVision Integrated Positioning System integrates the Trimble Catalyst DA1 Antenna, Electronic Distance Measurement rangefinder and power management into this handheld AR device that connects to a user-supplied Android mobile phone, according to the company.

Trimble said: “Using Trimble Connect™ cloud-based hosting, SiteVision can access models from all stages of the lifecycle of infrastructure and buildings – from initial concepts of roads or buildings through the operations and maintenance phase of the assets – to increase collaboration, enhance work accuracy and ultimately improve operations and utilisation.”