Tag Archives: Microsoft Azure

Orica’s hardware and software platforms converging for Mining 4.0

Orica’s corporate vision of “mobilising Earth’s resources in a sustainable way” is being further realised through a host of developments from its Digital Solutions and Blasting Technologies divisions, IM reports.

Those involved in charging operations could soon benefit from the launch of Orica and Epiroc’s Avatel™ solution, which, in combination with the WebGen™ wireless initiation platform, offers the ability to remotely blast a development face.

At the same time, the company is busy with the sustainable production of emulsion, the integration of geological orebody information to optimise energy use for blasting, and the expansion of downstream mineral processing tools.

Avatel

Avatel is a combination of state-of-the-art hardware and software solutions designed to mechanise the blasting process.

It includes Orica’s HandiLoader™ emulsion process body, Epiroc’s M2C carrier integrating an RCS 5 control system with Orica’s LOADPlus™ control system, a WebGen 200 wireless initiation system and an automated WebGen magazine. Epiroc has also incorporated onboard dewatering and lifter debris clearing capability, while Orica’s SHOTPlus™ intelligent blast design software is leveraged to deliver superior blasting outcomes, Orica says.

Orica and Epiroc’s advanced technologies integrated into the Avatel system

These components help eliminate the need for personnel exposure at the development face throughout the charging stage of the mining cycle, keeping personnel out of the line of fire, by substituting inherently high hazard manual tasks with a mechanised development charging solution.

A prototype Avatel unit is set to commence operations at Agnico Eagle Mining’s Kittilä gold mine in Finland in the next few months. This follows “alpha trialling” of the complete prototype unit at Epiroc’s Nacka test mine in Stockholm, Sweden.

Adam Mooney, Vice President of Blasting Technology for Orica, said: “Our goal for Kittilä is to expose Avatel to a real mining environment, putting the unit through its paces in an active mine where safety, productivity and reliability are core requirements for success.

“We will gain a practical understanding of how Avatel will fit in with and benefit the entire mining cycle, while also taking the opportunity to measure the blasting improvements possible through the combined use of electronic initiation timing and the precise blast energy control available with Avatel.”

A separate unit, meanwhile, will head to Newcrest Mining’s Cadia copper-gold mine in New South Wales, Australia, later this year, for the first commercial deployment. This is currently undergoing pre-delivery commissioning at Epiroc’s customer centre in Burnie, Tasmania.

Cyclo

Not too far away in Papua New Guinea, Orica has successfully commissioned a Cyclo™ emulsion technology unit, which has been running at a customer site for around two months, according to Mooney. The unit in question has treated in excess of 100,000 litres of used oil, he said.

Cyclo combines the company’s emulsion technology with used oil processing technology to transform mine-site used oil for application in explosives. To provide the tight quality control and regular testing required to manufacture emulsions with such inputs, Orica has partnered with CreatEnergy to develop a standalone, on-site solution to treat used oil.

Orica initially scheduled Cyclo for market introduction in late 2022, but it scaled and sped up development and production plans to support customers’ operations and curtail material disruptions brought about by COVID-19.

The first automated containerised used oil recycling system was commissioned in Ghana late in 2021, with the Papua New Guinea unit being the latest deployment.

Cyclo – containerised, automated used oil recycling service at a customer site in Ghana, Africa

A Senegal Cyclo debut is on track for July given the unit is already in country and connected into the emulsion plant on site, Mooney explained.

The company also plans to bring to market a Cyclo unit suitable for Arctic conditions by the end of this year, with the solution already under construction.

Data to insights to intelligence

Aside from hardware and sustainable emulsion solutions, Orica has recently signed an agreement with Microsoft Azure predicated on creating data-rich and artificial intelligence-infused tools that enable productivity, safety and sustainability benefits on site, with Raj Mathiravedu, Vice President of Digital Solutions, saying such a tie-up enables the company to think of the blasting value chain in a much more holistic manner.

“Orica Digital Solutions’ purpose is to develop and deliver a suite of integrated workflow tools to enable the corporate vision of mobilising Earth’s resources in a sustainable way,” he said. “A key attribute to delivering this workflow is the journey that we need to incorporate from data to insights to intelligence.”

Mathiravedu says the company is looking to go beyond the traditional solutions pairing software and IoT devices for a discrete product to – with the help of Microsoft Azure capabilities – building “answer products” focused on improving workflows.

“These workflows can benefit from understanding how geology within the orebody intelligence space can help us determine the optimised energy required for blasting in a real-time production workflow,” he said. “We have started this journey and are already delivering value to our customers by integrating workflows from orebody to processing.”

One example of this is the company’s FRAGTrack™ suite of solutions, devised to provide blast fragmentation data with auto-analysis capability.

Delivered as part of the company’s BlastIQ Digital Optimisation Platform, FRAGTrack is able to capture real-time fragmentation measurement data for optimising drill and blast operations, improving downstream productivity and tracking of operational performance.

Originally developed for measurements on both face shovels and conveyors, the solution was expanded earlier this year with the launch of FRAGTrack Crusher for automated pre-crusher fragmentation measurements.

FRAGTrack Crusher installation at Stevenson Aggregates

There are several vendors offering fragmentation measurement tools throughout the industry, but Mathiravedu says Orica’s solution can carry out such analysis consistently and accurately – day or night – in extremely dusty and dynamic environments like mining.

“The FRAGTrack image processing technology can handle extremely dusty and lighting-affected conditions beyond any solutions in the industry,” Mathiravedu said. “It is also able to learn and adapt to specific operational environments like the dumping habits of different truck operators using artificial intelligence technology. Together with the integration with fleet management systems, it can provide a fully autonomous and integrated measurement solution.”

On conveyors, the FRAGTrack solution can reliably measure fines with increased accuracy compared with conventional systems that leverage curve-fit algorithms, according to Mathiravedu, with the advanced image and 3D processing techniques providing the ability to measure fragments down to 5 mm in size.

The combination of FRAGTrack Conveyor and Orica’s ORETrack™ solution can provide not only particle size distribution information, but also critical information on ore grade and hardness for the milling operations in real time.

“The FRAGTrack platform architecture has been designed to be scalable to incorporate different sensor inputs along with its high-performance GPU compute capabilities,” Mathiravedu said, explaining that there could be further analysis solutions down the line.

Uptake bolts on ShookIOT for improved analytics in asset-intensive industries

Uptake has acquired Edmonton, Alberta-based ShookIOT, a leader in cloud-native data integration and integrity, strengthening its capabilities, it says, to accelerate digital transformation in asset-intensive industries.

Bridging the data gap between operational technology and information technology, the ShookIOT and Uptake combination simplifies data migration for easy deployment of Uptake’s Industrial AI applications, it said.

“The chemical, oil and gas, and process industries can now cost effectively clear the primary obstacle in the pursuit of digital transformation: the liberation of clean time-series data from individual assets to the cloud enabling advanced analytics and augmented decision making,” Uptake said.

Uptake recently partnered with Symboticware to provide mining companies with an end-to-end, integrated artificial intelligence (AI) and data science solution to increase the productivity of mobile mining equipment.

“For AI to make good on its promise to the industrial world, operators must be able to unlock data from disparate sources to support frontline decision making with simple, actionable, and secure software,” Kayne Grau, President of Uptake, said. “Integrating ShookIOT software within Uptake’s applications optimises the preparation of industrial data for precision analytics. By combining forces, we advance our leading position in this vital software-as-a-service category, enhancing the speed with which we deliver greater reliability, safety, and productivity to industrial operators.”

ShookIOT was founded by Leanna Chan and Dr Dave Shook, two former Matrikon (now a part of Honeywell Advanced Solutions) executives who led the development of data ingestion software for asset-intensive industries.

Responding to the opportunity of the cloud for industrial connectivity, ShookIOT specialises in data collection for enterprise-wide digital workstreams, providing data management and industrial intelligence software to global process companies, Uptake said.

Dr Shook, who is taking on the role of Chief Data Officer at Uptake, said: “Data portability and integrity are the foundation of Industry 4.0, yet many companies – solution providers and operators alike – have struggled to unlock the power of their data, limiting the future value of industrial intelligence through restrictive pre-modelling, drawn-out implementation, and poor cybersecurity.

“We are excited to join Uptake and expand our impact in empowering data integrity and adoption of Industrial AI for asset-intensive companies around the globe.”

The combined offerings of Uptake and ShookIOT are available via direct deployment or through the Microsoft Azure marketplace. Products include Uptake Fusion Powered by ShookIOT, enabling scalable cloud data historian capabilities, as well as Uptake Connectors and Uptake Elevate for easy connectivity and integration.

Uptake Lenses, a vendor-neutral object model that organises, unifies, and contextualises industrial data, is also offered as a supporting component of Uptake Fusion.

Uptake added: “Empowering organisations to move industrial data from one site to many, and operational data from many sites to one, the combined offerings provide company-wide visibility into performance at the component, asset, process, plant, and enterprise levels. Once in the cloud, data is prepared for operational applications, including Uptake’s Industrial AI, to assure production levels and quality, prevent unplanned downtime, and mitigate operational risk.”

The acquisition of ShookIOT comes soon after the news of Uptake’s partnership agreement with RCI to strengthen reliability-centred maintenance for asset-intensive industries.

Track’em looks to drive further material tracking efficiencies in mining

Track’em Pty has released the latest version of its Materials Tracking platform, taking on board years of “best practices from successful roll-outs in the field”, Kashif Saleem, founder and CEO, says.

The platform allows customers to manage materials and their logistics across the supply chain, according to the Perth-based company.

It provides project-wide visibility of construction materials and parts and digitises critical material handling processes, the company says. Designed specifically for large construction, mining, oil and gas projects, it increases productivity and decreases project delays, Track’em claims.

Saleem explained: “Materials generally account for at least 50% of construction project costs. Yet, often there is no central materials tracking system that allows asset owners, construction companies, EPCs, suppliers and contractors to work collaboratively ensuring the right materials are at the right location at the right time at the right quantity and quality. Our platform has evolved tremendously over time and is now used by more departments within our clients including procurement, logistics and expediting.”

The Track’em Materials mobile apps empower users in the field to quickly locate and identify items and digitise paper processes, it said. The browser-based desktop version allows for advanced material control processing, dashboards and reporting.

“The platform is built entirely on Microsoft Azure, guaranteeing scalability on a trusted environment that is backed by industry certifications for security and compliance,” the company said.

Track’em’s Project Manager, Matt Ward, says the company has listened to customer feedback and applied knowledge from its internal industry experts to create this update.

“Many stakeholders are involved as materials get requested, fabricated, transported, installed, inspected and maintained,” he said. “Track’em Materials is centred around process optimisation and quality assurance during this lifecycle, giving customers continuous insight into the location, status and custodian of all their materials.

“Additionally, we are hardware agnostic, meaning we integrate with any IoT tracking identification technology such as barcodes, RFID, GPS, Bluetooth, etc. This enables clients to have complete visibility and control.”

Mark McIntyre, Global VP of Sales, said customers using the Materials Tracking platform have experienced significant time and costs savings by avoiding wasted time and money looking for and reordering misplaced components.

He added: “Product improvement will remain a spearhead at Track’em and we will continue to focus on enhancing our entire product suite for tracking materials, assets and time to drive efficiency in construction, mining, oil and gas.”

Suncor to move towards cloud-based computing with Microsoft Azure

Suncor has announced a multi-year strategic alliance with Microsoft Canada as a part of the company’s effort to further accelerate its digital transformation journey.

The oil sands miner has selected Microsoft as its “strategic cloud provider”, tapping into the full range of Microsoft’s cloud solutions to empower a connected and collaborative workforce, upgrade data centres, and increase analytics capabilities, it said.

Suncor will also collaborate with Microsoft on innovation projects, drawing on expertise and opportunities from both organisations.

Mark Little, Suncor President and CEO, said: “We’re excited to be partnering with Microsoft because they’re a global leader in the digital technology space, and they will bring value and insights into global innovation best practices.

“This is an example of how we are driving to improve our business in ways that were not possible before – to make our people safer, increase reliability and productivity, reduce costs and improve sustainability.”

In this multi-year strategic alliance, Suncor will take advantage of Microsoft’s full range of cloud solutions and will move towards cloud-based computing with Microsoft Azure as a preferred cloud platform. The move to Azure is expected to enable the rapid deployment of new technologies to improve safety and productivity through artificial intelligence, machine learning, enhanced automation, and industrial internet of things and visualisation, according to Suncor.

“Although we are an industry leader in many respects, we still have much to learn in the digital space, which is why we’re working with a number of organisations including Microsoft to challenge us,” Little said. “Similar to how we partner with and learn from innovators across our physical value chain, we’re choosing to partner with the experts in digital innovation.”

The company said: “Collaborating on innovation will include Microsoft resources embedded at the core of innovation teams, working together to explore a wide range of business capabilities. Additionally, value will come from accessing the Microsoft innovation ecosystem and real-world lessons from a curated community of global peers.”

Kevin Peesker, President of Microsoft Canada, said Suncor was embarking on a journey to transform the energy industry, and his company could help Suncor achieve its goals.

“They are creating new business value for their customers, empowering and upskilling their workforce, and innovating for a sustainable future,” he said. “The world’s leading companies run on our cloud, and we look forward to helping Suncor accelerate their digital transformation with Azure, Dynamics 365, Surface and Microsoft 365.”

Through this strategic alliance with Microsoft, Suncor expects to better improve the employee and customer experiences across its business, from front line workers in industrial settings, to gas station attendants at Petro-Canada gas and EV stations, to office workers across Suncor, it said. Digital technologies will be a means to draw superior insights from data and will open new ways to drive improved economic, social and environmental performance.

Suncor’s oil sands mining projects, located in the Athabasca region of Canada, are projected to produce a reliable, long-term energy supply while leveraging technology to minimise environmental and social impacts of resource development, it says. Located near Fort McMurray in northern Alberta, the assets include the Millennium and North Steepbank sites as well as the Suncor-operated Fort Hills mine. Suncor also has a 58.74% interest in the Syncrude joint venture and a 100% interest in the Voyageur South mining lease. Suncor holds a 36.75% interest in a joint venture partnership with Total to develop the Joslyn oil sands mining project.