Tag Archives: digital transformation

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.

ABB tackles ‘open automation’ with UWA, ETP, AMIRA Global and Gold Fields

ABB says it has linked with the University of Western Australia’s (UWA) new Energy & Resources Digital Interoperability Industry 4.0 (ERDi i4.0) TestLab, run by Enterprise Transformation Partners (ETP), to advance Industry 4.0 open process automation standards.

This includes collaboration on AMIRA Global’s P1208 Interoperability Enablement for Natural Resources project, which is designed to realise the future digital mine. It aims to develop and implement interoperability standards for mine planning, mine scheduling and execution so equipment and applications for mine operations become ‘plug and play’. Building on the University of Western Australia I4.0 ERDi Test Lab (pictured), this initiative will enable an off-site test laboratory to evaluate efficacy of interoperability of technology without disrupting ongoing mining activities, according to ABB.

Separate to the AMIRA project, ABB is also working closely with ETP on an integrated systems project at Gold Fields’ Granny Smith mine, 740 km northeast of Perth, Western Australia, one of the largest and highest producing gold operations in the country.

The project will enhance ABB Ability™ Operations Management System (OMS) Platform – Fleet Management Software Module to support the latest in reliable messaging and Industry 4.0 interoperability standards; ISA-95 (IEC 62264) via B2MML V7.0, ABB said. This advancement will enable the mine to connect and coordinate mine operators, workforce, equipment and all mining activities in real-time, from face preparation to crusher, according to the company.

“In 2019, we launched the Integrated Systems project to increase production throughput of the Granny Smith gold mine,” Michael Place, Technical Service Manager, Gold Fields Australia, said. “To achieve the objective of a fully-connected mine, we are working with ABB and ETP to build an integrated business process and system architecture that will enable visibility of operational activities in near real-time via automated information exchange between various mining systems.

“The system architecture has been designed to allow deployment across various operations, both open pit and underground. This deployment will be the major phase of the technology strategy for the Granny Smith mine and will be a pilot for integrated platforms across Gold Fields Australia, which aims to create one of the most innovative, digitally connected mines in the world. This project and agreement will be key to achieving this.”

ETP Managing Director, John Kirkman, said: “ABB’s investment, both in financial terms as well as time, together with their expertise, is critical for this project to support the re-engineering of products that are often required to deliver a reliable, performant and standards compliant software package.

“The performance requirements of a software package that exchanges and processes granular events with rich information in real-time, when compared to a software package designed for periodical manual entry, are like comparing chalk and cheese, and that’s where ABB plays a big role.”

Stuart Cowie, Head of Industrial Automation Process Industries, ABB Australia, added: “Industry 4.0 and digital transformation are huge opportunities for the Australian mining industry with automation, analytics, and artificial intelligence generating insights and accelerating greater productivity and efficiency.

“This underlines ABB’s commitment to ensuring Industry 4.0 concepts influence its product roadmaps into the future, and demonstrates the significant value that can be delivered to customers through interoperability and automation across both processes and systems. It will give ABB valuable insights into digital transformation and Industry 4.0 concepts for mining. Through our work with the ERDi TestLab, the OMS platform has become an even more powerful tool with reliable real-time access to operational data through ISA95 standardised messages.”

As part of POC 1, ABB will showcase ABB Ability Operations Management System and Fleet Management System software to AMIRA P1208 project sponsors, automatically exchanging information with scheduling and materials tracking software packages via i4.0 standard interfaces.

APCOM 2019 to showcase mining’s digital transformation developments

The preliminary technical programme for the APCOM 2019 conference in Wroclaw, Poland, (June 4-6) has gone live, showing off some of the highest quality peer-reviewed papers on ‘digital transformation’ in mining, from resource estimation to mine operation and safety.

The conference topics include:

Geostatistics and resource estimation

APCOM said: “An entire three-day conference stream provides more than 20 leading- edge and peer-reviewed papers by world-class practitioners from leading mining companies and by world-leading research institutes.”

Papers on this topic include: Transforming Exploration Data Through Machine Learning from MICROMINE’s Mark Gabbitus, Rock mass characterisation using MWD data and photogrammetry from Luleå University of Technology’s Sohail Manzoor, and Rethinking Fleet & Personnel Management in the era of IoT, Big Data, Gamification, and low-cost Tablet Technology from MST Global’s Sean Dessureault.

Mine planning

There will be about 15 papers on newest IT-supported techniques in mine planning, uncertainty reduction, geomechanics, modelling, simulation and the most recent software technology, according to APCOM.

Papers on this topic include: A procedure to generate optimised ramp designs using mathematical programming from Delphos Mine Planning Lab, AMTC/DIMIN, Universidad de Chile’s Nelson Morales, Incorporation of geological risk into underground mine planning from NEXA Resources’ Rafael Rosado and a presentation from AngloGold Ashanti’s Andrade Barbosa titled, Economic Optimisation of Rib Pillars Placement in Underground Mines.

Scheduling and dispatch

“Around 15 papers address long- and short-term scheduling optimisation, the application of neural networks and genetic algorithms as well as risk mitigation and related software systems. A keynote talk covers the impact of Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data and gamification on fleet scheduling topics,” APCOM said.

The conference has attracted speakers on this subject from Clausthal University of Technology, AngloGold Ashanti, University of Alberta, AusGEMCO Pty Ltd, Newmont Mining Corp, Advanced Mining Technology Center and Maptek.

Mine operation in digital transformation

There are more than 20 papers in this stream covering mining equipment related topics in the area of LHD transport, drilling and longwall operation, as well as underground communications and new digital technologies in mine safety, as well as product quality optimisation.

Speakers from the Kola Science Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Breakline and breakdown surfaces modelling in the design of large-scale blasts), Komatsu Mining (The Digital Mine eco-system), Tunnel Radio (Hybrid 5G Fibre Optic/Leaky Feeder Communication System) and Epiroc (Monitoring of a stoping operation, digital transformation in practice) are set to present papers

Emerging technologies and robotics in mining

Under this topic, there are a number of sessions with almost 10 papers covering the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in mining, the benefits of upcoming technology in robotics, mechatronics and communications, as well as the changes in machine design through digital transformation, APCOM said. Also a completely new transport system is presented in this stream.

Papers in this stream include: More Safety in Underground Mining with IoT and Autonomous Robots (TU Bergakademie Freiberg, Institute of Mining and Special Civil Engineering), Application of UAV imaging and photogrammetry for high-resolution modelling of open pit geometry and slope stability monitoring (Department of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering, University of Nevada, Reno) and The concept of walking robot for mining industry (Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Wroclaw University of Science and Technology).

Synergies from other industries

A plenary speech from an active airline captain will lead this session, talking about the impact of human-machine interfaces on decision-making of automated equipment and in control centres, APCOM said. Other papers will be on the transferability of building information modelling from commercial construction to mining.

A paper from MT-Silesia Sp zoo called: From machine construction to mechatronic system design: Digital Transformation is changing the way of thinking! is included. There are also talks from MobileTronics GmbH’s George Biro on, Rethinking mining transport: Trackless trains for mass transport in mining and KGHM Polska Miedeź’s Mariusz Sangórski presenting, Energy Management System Maturity Model – Systematic Approach to Gain Knowledge about Organization’s Real Engagement in Energy Efficiency Area.

The conference takes place at the convention centre of the Wroclaw University of Technology and is accompanied by an exhibition, APCOM said. A social programme, conference dinner with entertainment and partner activities are available as well as field trips on June 7.

“A post-conference hike in the Karkonosze Mountains is offered from June 8-10, with overnight stays in two microbreweries on the ridge, is a relaxing finish to the technical discussions of the week,” APCOM said.

All presentations are to be held in English. Simultaneous translation to Polish is provided if requested by a sufficient number of participants.

International Mining is a media partner for APCOM 2019.

Hitachi and CSIRO seal ties with R&D and social innovation pact

Hitachi has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) aimed at cooperating in areas of research and development and social innovation.

Examples of potential cooperation identified in the MoU include research and development activities in the fields of autonomous systems, digital twins, material tracking, urban systems, security, artificial intelligence, digital transformation, and IoT sensing across primary industries.

Anand Singh, Executive Director and Director of Operations Hitachi Australia, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with CSIRO as we continue to invest our efforts in introducing technologies and systems across Australia that will impact social wellbeing. This partnership will also enable collaborative efforts with a variety of different stakeholders who are in alliance with CSIRO from different industries and academia.”

The MoU was executed by Atsushi Konishi, Managing Director of Hitachi Australia, and Dr Larry Marshall, Chief Executive Officer of CSIRO, on November 19. This coincided with the return of the Hitachi Social Innovation Forum in Sydney. The forum looked into developments around big data analytics, digitalisation, smart cities and automation.