Tag Archives: digital transformation

Teck, Kinross and Vale join Axora’s mining and metals digital transformation community

Axora says it has launched the world’s first digital transformation community for the energy and metals and mining sectors.

The Axora Community intends to connect industry innovators, share the latest market research on key digital trends and initiate thought-provoking debates to help solve some of the biggest challenges facing these industries today, Axora said.

“Professionals in these two sectors face some of the world’s most dangerous environments while having to safely satisfy production demand and hit sustainability targets,” Ritz Steytler, CEO of Axora (pictured), said at the launch event in London last night. “By harnessing digital innovation, paired with knowledge sharing and collaboration, industry leaders can ensure worker safety, reduce environmental impact, and improve return on investment. That’s why we started the Axora Community.”

Axora’s two recent reports, ‘Innovation Forecast: Mining and Metals’ and ‘Innovation Forecast: Energy’, revealed that 99% of senior decision makers at energy and metals and mining firms across the world needed a global digital transformation community.

The Axora Community will include metals and mining, and energy industry professionals as well as technology providers, associations and academics. It has been set up with the help of 10 founder members and senior professionals from leading companies including Teck Resources, Kinross Gold, Vale and ArcelorMittal Europe.

Peter Stegmaier, Founding Member, Axora Community and Chairman, CLQ Global, said: “The energy and mining sectors have embraced digital transformation for some time, but there is still much room for improvement to ensure they fully realise the benefits of key growth drivers like artificial intelligence, advanced analytics and automation.

“For the first time, industry innovators will have a forum for information on digital solutions, can gain insights into how other industries are tackling similar challenges and learn best practice from their peers.”

The Axora Community intends to host exclusive webinars, invite-only roundtables, and access to live Q&A sessions with industry experts around the world. It will initially focus on the metals and mining sector and will expand to cover the energy sector at the end of this year.

Axora calls itself the digital solutions marketplace for industrial innovators, offering industrial companies a service to discover, buy and sell digital innovations for improved safety, sustainability and efficiency across their operations.

Axora survey reveals mining sector moves towards digital transformation

Axora, the digital solutions marketplace for industrial innovators, has published a new report into digital trends and key growth drivers in the global metals and mining industry, with digital transformation and innovation highlighted as crucial elements to meeting the rising demand from the energy transition.

The ‘Axora 2021 Innovation Forecast: Metals and Mining’ is based on a survey of 150 senior decision makers worldwide, as well as interviews with small and large operators alike. The findings indicate that the metals and mining sector is driving forward with digital transformation but there is still more to be done ahead of the energy transition, Axora says.

“There’s been a dramatic shift in how metals and mining companies perceive digital transformation,” Ritz Steytler, CEO, Axora, says. “As the sector emerges after a period of uncertainty, firms are realising the need for a more coordinated and strategic approach to ensure they deploy the right technologies, in the right places, at the right time.”

The key highlights of the research include the opinion that digital transformation and innovation are seen as crucial to meeting the rising demand from the energy transition:

  • Ninety-nine percent of decision makers now believe technology and innovation are critical to their organisation’s survival;
  • Ninety-four percent of respondents said their deployments were advanced or intermediate;
  • Those in North America, the UK and South America saw themselves as most advanced, whereas South Africa saw itself as least advanced; and
  • The biggest barriers to executing digital transformation were cybersecurity concerns (42% of respondents) and lack of IT infrastructure to handle data from digital solutions (38%).

Achieving more with less and improving working environments were popular reasons for deploying digital solutions, according to the survey, which highlighted that:

  • There’s more focus on using technology to boost direct productivity, foster a better working environment and improve return on investment than to prevent downtime;
  • Companies are taking a longer-term view when it comes to cost savings from digital transformation. In the next two years, 24% of respondents anticipate saving 1-5% from digital technology. Within five years, just 3% of respondents anticipate that level of savings, with most predicting 11-15%; and
  • More than three-quarters of respondents prioritised the value of digital technology over its cost.

Tech-wise, companies have focused on analytics and semi-autonomous equipment, with:

  • Seventy-three percent of respondents saying these had been deployed to some extent; and
  • Semi-autonomous equipment was most likely to be 100% deployed across the organisation.

Application-wise, there’s been emphasis on remote operations and automation, according to the survey, with:

  • Seventy-three percent of organisations having deployed remote operations technology;
  • Driver fatigue monitoring was the application most likely to have been deployed across 100% of the organisation; and
  • Seventy-two percent of respondents said their company had implemented a Remote Operations Centre, with a further 15% saying they’re planning to do so in the next year.

There are clear regional trends for technologies, Axora says, with, Russia and Kazakhstand expected to focus extensively on robotics in the next year. Over this same timeframe, Australia will focus on artificial intelligence (AI), with the UK-based companies focused on cloud-based platforms. North America, like Australia, is also focused on machine learning.

In the next five years, Russia is expected to gain a major focus on robotics as well as advanced analytics and sensors, North America on IIoT and the UK-based firms on autonomous haulage technology.

The survey uncovered that AI is seen as the main growth driver, with 57% of decision makers saying their organisation had deployed AI to some extent and 59% of respondents ranking it first for growth potential in the next year (followed by robotics with 45%).

“The focus on AI is particularly marked in Australia and the UK,” Axora says. “Although Russia and Kazakhstan are least likely to see it as a growth driver in the next 12 months, they predict a major push in the next three to five years.”

In contrast to popular opinion, the top drive for digital transformation is not safety, according to the survey, with respondents citing people safety as the third highest business priority over the next five years.

In the next two years, mid-sized companies are most likely to see people safety as a key business priority. In the next five years, small companies have the greatest focus on it, according to the survey responses.

One of the last findings to come out of the survey was companies need support to succeed with digital transformation, with:

  • Eighty-two percent of respondents saying a partner had the biggest influence on their digital technology adoption, with the preference being for generic rather than industry-specific ones;
  • Mid-sized companies, those in North America and senior site managers most likely suffering from digitalisation information overload; and
  • Ninety-nine percent saying they would benefit from a digital transformation community where they could learn from peers’ experiences with different technologies and applications.

Joe Carr, Industry Innovation Director, Metals and Mining, Axora, concluded: “The metals and mining sector has made huge progress and is forging ahead with digital transformation with clear regional trends in place. However, there are still opportunities to benefit further through partnerships and by looking more closely at the safety side for opportunities to revolutionise standard ways of working and accelerate the move towards zero harm.”

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.