Tag Archives: IoT

Sandvik’s McCoy on ‘getting the basics right’ in digital transformation projects

The application of digital tools is key to continuously improving efficiencies in underground mines, Niel McCoy, Business Line Manager for Automation and Digitalisation at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, says.

McCoy says the choice of digital tools needs to be based on each operation’s key performance indicators (KPIs). This is because the solutions that are implemented will be focused on monitoring and managing those KPIs. He then recommends a phased approach to introducing digital tools to an operation.

“The starting point is always machine telemetry and basic production or productivity reporting,” he says. “From there, the solutions can be expanded.”

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions has extensive experience in designing and implementing digital tools, including equipment health monitoring and process management. Its AutoMine® automation offering operates on 59 mining sites globally, while its OptiMine® suite of digital solutions is active on 66 connected sites. The ‘My Sandvik’ customer portal, a web-based digital hub, serves 214 sites and its Newtrax technology in wireless IoT connectivity is operating on 115 sites.

“Monitoring equipment health through My Sandvik Digital Services Solutions allows users to draw down telemetry data from their equipment in real time,” he says. “The data is automatically compiled into the required report format for quick analysis and response.”

The next aspect to be addressed is the actual management of the process being monitored, he says. This is where Sandvik’s Task Management and Scheduler – part of its Optimine suite of digital solutions – can be applied.

“This allows a tablet to be fitted to an item of equipment so that an underground operator can accept tasks and provide real-time progress reports on those tasks,” he says. “The more advanced the equipment, the more data can be extracted and communicated automatically without operator intervention.”

The solutions allow for data to be recorded on equipment’s key operations – such as the weight of loads in a loader bucket. Telemetry on the equipment gives valuable insight into the equipment’s availability and performance so management can respond.

“When starting digital journeys, the focus must be on improving current operations,” McCoy says. “This means getting work started on time, for instance, before moving onto optimisation efforts. Most digital implementations will battle if the starting point is trying to increase productivity before getting the basics right.”

Worldsensing brings cloud-based CMT hub to geotech industry

Industrial monitoring company Worldsensing has added the Connectivity Management Tool (CMT) to its Loadsensing industrial Internet of Things (IoT) family.

CMT gives engineers a “unique cloud-based hub” to manage devices, data and networks, building on Loadsensing’s wireless network technology for the acquisition of near real time geotechnical, geospatial and structural sensor information, the company says.

More than 270 engineering consultancies and monitoring technology providers worldwide already use Loadsensing to improve the safety of critical infrastructure, Worldsensing added.

“Our vision for CMT is to help our partners monitor geotech projects more efficiently,” Albert Zaragoza, Worldsensing’s Chief Technology Officer, said. “It will help them stay on top of their network, node and sensor performance and manage a variety of monitoring projects remotely, from the comfort of their office, through a single pane of glass.”

Within mining, construction, rail and structural health management, CMT addresses engineers’ need to automate monitoring projects through the cloud, reducing the need for site visits and improving safety while reducing costs, the company says.

“We know many of our partners monitor projects using spreadsheets, which can be daunting,” Bernat Trias, Director of Products at Worldsensing, said. “We can automate parts of the process so they can focus on what matters the most, which is to ensure the construction process or existing infrastructure are safe.”

Connected with CMT, and to offer additional value to engineering service providers, Worldsensing says it has built a strong alliance partner network that includes data visualisation software leaders such as Vista Data Vision, Maxwell Geosystem and Intelltech.

Worldsensing is also bundling Loadsensing with IDS GeoRadar by Hexagon and integrating the technology into Hexagon’s digital mining geomonitoring hub, HxGN.

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.

Microsoft mixed reality tech keeps BHP’s Pilbara sites on track

BHP, through the deployment of mixed reality Microsoft HoloLens technology, has managed to keep equipment inspected, serviced and maintained at its iron ore operations in the Pilbara of Western Australia in the face of COVID-19.

Workplace restrictions designed to keep people safe from COVID-19 mean that BHP hasn’t been able to fly people to and from its mine sites as freely as it did in the past.

To get around this issue, it has equipped people like Andrew ‘Woody’ Wood, a Mechanical Fitter with 30 years’ experience under his belt, with HoloLens 2 – a head mounted computer with a see-through display. This has allowed employees like Woody to coach his peers at site, anytime, from anywhere using Microsoft Dynamics 365 Remote Assist.

Woody is instantly able to see what mechanical fitters at site can see, send them helpful documentation, videos and schematics on the fly, and even use digital ink and arrows to annotate real things in the physical world in order to help them complete tasks and inspections on remote sites, Microsoft says.

For Alex Bertram, Digital Products Manager at BHP, the rollout of the technology was accelerated by BHP’s ability to innovate during the COVID-19 pandemic, with strong support from its partnership with Microsoft.

Safety, speed and smarts

“Using mixed reality in its day-to-day operations is one of a series of innovations that BHP is undertaking to keep its people safe and its productivity up,” Microsoft says.

Dash Maintainer Tools, developed by BHP’s maintenance and innovation teams, allow front line personnel to securely collect data from machinery remotely, avoiding the potential risks associated with manually checking dials or taking readings from heavy mobile equipment such as trucks, excavators, drills and dozers.

Leveraging IoT sensors and industrial computers connected to Azure the Dash solution gets data into the hands of maintenance technicians on their smartphone or tablet, the company says.

“Productivity and safety go hand in hand and are guiding lights for BHP and its innovation efforts,” Microsoft explains. “This focus enabled the team to have the first version of Dash in the field on a 400 t excavator within 16 weeks of it being an idea on a white board.”

To keep its people, families and communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, BHP introduced many rigorous measures and controls to reduce the risk of transmission.

This has included limiting numbers at its mine sites to only those required to enable safe operations; anyone who can work from home has done so.

At first, it meant that Bertram couldn’t get his team to the South Flank iron ore development to keep developing the Dash tool at the same velocity. Nor could many other experts who would typically be flown to a mine to set up new equipment, solve a problem or conduct an inspection.

Even so; “Our people on the front line are empowered to try new things to safely get on with the job”, Bertram says.

“During COVID-19, I expected the pace of innovation to slow, but we’ve seen the opposite. People really rally together and are open to trying new things to safely get the job done.”

He had already witnessed the potential of HoloLens and mixed reality, and was convinced that in combination with Dynamics 365 Remote Assist it would allow expertise to be delivered virtually to the teams still working at BHP’s Pilbara operations to support continued development of the Dash Maintainer Tools, Microsoft says.

“Given many of us were working from home due to COVID-19, the first device was delivered to my house to test and by the following week, we’d undertaken trials in our workshop environment in Perth,” Bertram says.

The team were able to test the system on real machinery at BHP’s Innovation Centre Lab, located at the Perth Repair Centre, which provides a safe and controlled environment to trial new technologies and ways of working on mining equipment.

“The following week, we ran a dry run and test at the mine, and five or six days later we supported the installation of the first prototype of Dash Maintainer Tools on a 300 t haul truck,” Bertram said. “A process like that would normally take a few months at least.”

It took less than four weeks from the HoloLens2 arriving at Bertram’s Perth home to it being used to install the first prototype of Dash tool on a Komatsu dump truck in the heart of the Pilbara, according to Microsoft.

The deployment of mixed reality technology has the potential to be rolled out more widely, and deliver safety and productivity benefits long after COVID-19 abates, Microsoft says. And there is further scope in making the physical delivery of equipment to sites more efficient.

“This technology can help us reduce the time and cost associated with regular travel, increase the speed of maintenance and new equipment deployment without compromising safety, and support greater inclusion and diversity,” Bertram said.

Having proven the HoloLens2 solution’s potential, BHP is now running further trials across its rail workshops and maintenance teams in Perth and the Pilbara, and at several other global locations in Australia, the US and Chile, according to Microsoft.

“We are seeing promising early results,” Bertram said. “If those trials are successful, we will look at how we can scale up. We are not getting ahead of ourselves, but we are well placed because the HoloLens2 solution speaks to our existing systems such as security controls, and device management.”

Inpixon to acquire location-based tech expert Nanotron Technologies

Inpixon has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Nanotron Technologies GmbH, a company with experience delivering proximity awareness and collision avoidance technology in mining.

The $8.7 million transaction is expected to increase Inpixon revenues by over $5 million on an annual basis and to be accretive, it said.

Nanotron, headquartered in Berlin, Germany, has established itself over the past two decades as a leading provider of innovative IoT solutions for real-time location systems (RTLS) and indoor and outdoor positioning solutions using both industry-standard technologies, such as ultra-wideband (UWB), and patented proprietary wireless communication technologies, such as Chirp Spread Spectrum (CSS).

Inpixon believes this acquisition is transformational for the company due to several factors, including, that it will:

  • Strengthen and expand Inpixon’s product portfolio and capabilities for UWB, RTLS, and 2.4 GHz CSS, increasing precision and decreasing latency to locate assets and people in real-time;
  • Expand Inpixon’s intellectual property portfolio, including patents covering its symmetrical double-sided two-way ranging licensed by Decawave;
  • Expand Inpixon’s user base. Nanotron cites that it has more than 500 deployments to date, including several large-scale deployments monitoring tens of thousands of anchors and tags;
  • Deepen Inpixon’s geographic presence in regions outside of North America including Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and the Middle East;
  • Expands Inpixon’s partner relationships with marquee distribution and technology partners, such as Arrow Electronics, DigiKey and Decawave;
  • Enhance the company’s ability to design proprietary sensor systems, including chips and multifunctional sensor systems for various industries; and
  • Broaden Inpixon’s industry coverage with construction, manufacturing, mining, autonomous vehicles, and livestock, plus expand use cases including live positioning, asset tracking, collision avoidance, man-down and worker safety.

Nadir Ali, CEO of Inpixon, said: “Nanotron’s first-in-class products, patents, and other assets significantly enhance our overall Indoor Intelligence™ platform. Through this acquisition, we are adding one of the foremost engineering teams in the industry – a pioneer in the development of location-based technologies. Through the integration of technologies, we look forward to providing seamless integration across both indoor and outdoor positioning applications.”

Soumya Das, Chief Operating Officer of Inpixon, said: “Nanotron’s Chirp technologies are unique and give Inpixon a formidable offering for tag tracking in the 2.4 GHz ISM band, with accuracy to the one-meter level and up to five hundred meter in range. The 30 cm accuracy offered by UWB is essential to helping our large enterprise and government customers address some particularly tough challenges. Additionally, nanotron’s tag-to-tag communication methodologies can be incorporated into Inpixon’s Workplace Readiness solutions for advanced social distancing and contact tracing capabilities to help businesses reopen safely.

“We intend to leverage nanotron’s established global customer base, as well as their extensive system integrator and reseller relationships, in order to expand our customer reach, as well as to provide significant cross-selling and up-selling opportunities.”

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

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.”

Symboticware partners with Ramjack Technology Solutions to expand global reach

Symboticware’s vehicle sensor data telemetry and analytics solutions is likely to receive a bigger global audience after the IoT specialist signed a reseller agreement with Ramjack Technology Solutions.

Ramjack will be a Value Added Reseller in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and parts of Latin America, according to the company. Ramjack is a specialised, systems integrator dedicated to operations technology for the mining industry.

Symboticware, meanwhile, focuses on standardised information-based technology to enhance productivity, sustainability, profitability and safety through real-time data management solutions.

“Through partnerships with best-of-breed, global technology manufacturers and custom-designed service offerings, they provide mining customers with technology solutions that guarantee improvements in safety, productivity and effectiveness,” Symboticware said of Ramjack.

“Using a pragmatic combination of advanced technology products and services – purpose-built for the harsh mining environment – Ramjack bridges the critical gap between original technology manufacturers and mine operations, enabling mines to realise the full potential their technology promised.”

Kirk Petroski, President & CEO Symboticware Inc, said partnering with Ramjack as a value added reseller extends the company’s global reach, and delivers capabilities for advancements in industrial IoT and artificial intelligence into mining corridors “where a significant positive impact on mobile asset safety, visibility and efficiency can be realised”.

Mike Jackson, President & CEO of Ramjack Technology Solutions, said: “We’re very excited about our partnership with Symboticware. Mines in the regions that Ramjack serves are poised and ready to take real advantage of Symboticware’s vehicle sensor data telemetry and analytics solutions. We are looking forward to the opportunity to demonstrate the rapid returns that this technology can offer to both open-pit and underground mines.”

Cisco IoT solution underwrites Boliden automation transition at Garpenberg

Cisco says it has helped Sandvik and Boliden deliver a safe, autonomous and efficient operation at the miner’s Garpenberg underground mine in northern Sweden.

The IoT solutions provider has installed a low latency IoT network with Cisco industrial switches and access points in the mine, which is more than 1 km underground, to facilitate this transition.

As Cisco says, Boliden was after a reliable industrial network architecture that can operate in its mine, could allow machinery to operate autonomously to keep workers out of dangerous areas, and could improve operational efficiencies in the mine while reducing costs.

Working with Boliden and Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, one of Cisco’s first few Design-In Program partners, the company came up with a solution.

The network installed at the mine allows large machinery, such as Sandvik LH517s, to operate remotely and autonomously in areas that could be unsafe to send people. With the support of Sandvik’s AutoMine® for autonomous mining equipment and Sandvik’s OptiMine® software to analyse and optimise production, Boliden mining engineers can remotely (and safely) operate the machinery from a control room, it says.

This also makes it possible for Boliden mining engineers to work in a cleaner, healthier environment, according to Cisco.

ennomotive challenges developers to supress the dust problem

Chile-based ennomotive recently launched an open innovation challenge to look for IoT solutions to monitor dust contamination in “extreme work environments” like mining.

During this process, 43 applications – including companies, scholars, freelancers, and employees from other companies – participated in the challenge. Six startups from France, India, Argentina, Chile, and Indonesia also proposed an adaptation of their technologies.

As ennomotive explained, there are already some devices in the market specifically designed to monitor air quality in urban settings, but they only measure low level dust concentrations. “The sensors in these devices are not robust enough to operate under extreme industrial conditions since they get dirty very easily, collapse, stop measuring, and need constant maintenance.

“Extreme work environments need easy-to-install and autonomous devices that can measure PM10 particles and 50 mg/m3 concentrations. The minimum number of particles must be 500 mg/m3 and maximum 200 mg/m3.”

IoT devices are an able alternative to solve this problem, ennomotive says, with industrial IoT devices safer, more robust, and reliable for extreme environments (high temperatures, powerful vibrations, dust, humidity, corrosion, wear, etc).

ennomotive said the open innovation challenge ruled out existing commercial solutions due to their lack of robustness (too sensitive to endure extreme environments), reliability (high failure probability for some components) or precision (indirect measuring).

As part of the challenge, three solutions were selected with the following technologies:

  • Autonomous laser interferometer technology with a sensor-cleaning system and Edge computing for local alert-management data processing;
  • Combination of LED sensor and broadband photodetectors, and automatic calibration of the receive paths with mathematical processing; and
  • The development of a new sensor based on light scattering: an Arduino board converts the measurements into intensity relations and sends them to a central server as concentrations.

The first three prototypes were evaluated on site according to measurement quality, maintenance, autonomy, data transmission, etc. The result was a more robust prototype that combined the strengths of the three previous technologies, ennomotive said.

Thanks to the challenge, it was possible to design and evaluate different technologies, prototype, and test in a record time of five months, ennomotive said. “Open innovation has proven to be a very efficient tool to accelerate the development of new products.”

To read more about the winners, follow these links below:

https://www.ennomotive.com/power-consumption-optimization-iot/

https://www.ennomotive.com/artificial-intelligence-industry/

https://www.ennomotive.com/winner-maksym-gaievskyi/