To maximise the opportunities and potential that exists with furthering automation in mining, Modular Mining’s parent company, Komatsu, recently created the Komatsu Technology Interoperability Center of Excellence.
This group, based in Tucson, Arizona, focuses entirely on driving product strategy and developing roadmaps for technology and automation. Some of its recent work is geared towards an interoperability-focused ISO standard that, it says, will help make interoperability of automated equipment a reality.
Komatsu explained: “These in-development strategies and roadmaps aim to include the full range of mining equipment across all original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) within the Komatsu family, including both surface and underground equipment, and leverage the original technology manufacturers including Modular Mining, MineWare, and Immersive Technologies.”
The new Technology Interoperability group is focused on providing customers with a high-quality portfolio of state-of-the-art, integration-ready technologies and automated systems for all types of mining, according to Komatsu.
“The group’s vision centres on delivering innovative mine automation solutions that exceed customer expectations and provide a step change in safety and productivity,” it said. “Recognising that each mine has its own unique requirements and that customer operations span the various levels of being autonomous-ready, Komatsu is committed to developing solutions across the automation spectrum, including offerings specific to: truck spotting, assisted operation (including active blade control), autonomous drilling, and more.”
The pace of the technological evolution in the consumer world is driving mining’s evolution, Komatsu says.
“We’re seeing faster adoption of automation technologies and enablers at mining operations worldwide. Automation capabilities in the consumer automotive industry, including the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems that provide lane assistance and adaptive cruise control, are becoming standard systems on new cars. The underlying technologies of these automation capabilities, including controllers, sensors, algorithms, and artificial intelligence (AI), among others, are becoming more mature, thus opening opportunities for adoption into the mining industry.”
Effective mining automation solutions require interoperability, as most mines have a mixed fleet of equipment. To support that customer need, Komatsu says it is leading the development of an ISO standard that will help make interoperability of automated equipment a reality.
“Together with Modular Mining’s OEM agnosticism and a focus on both safety and sustainability, we are confident these standards will support the delivery of improved solutions to meet customer and societal needs,” the company said.
Many miners have started to digitalise their processes, but the greatest optimisation occurs when silos are collectively broken down, data is shared and solutions are integrated, the company says.
“To further this effort, Modular Mining is working towards integration with third-party technology partners, which will allow the company’s IntelliMine solutions and third-party systems (such as mine planning and payload monitoring systems, among others) to seamlessly share data with one another.
“Access to this previously unavailable third-party data will enable Modular Mining to streamline overall operational efficiency by enhancing the existing decision-making algorithms within a site’s IntelliMine technologies.”
The advances in industrial computing and algorithm developments also allow AI and machine learning to be pushed to the ‘edge’ of onboard equipment, enabling automatic identification and corrective action for previously unsolvable production, maintenance, and safety related problems, according to Komatsu.
“As the role of automation in the mining industry continues to increase, so too does the excitement from Komatsu’s Technology Interoperability group,” the company said. “In the past year, our teams have had the privilege of working with many customers and internal groups to develop a new strategy and roadmap that will help drive future offerings for our customers. We are excited to continue applying advanced technology, equipment, and services to help support the mining industry’s exciting and necessary evolution to meet the demands of society for the long haul.”