Tag Archives: Newtrax

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.”

Sandvik expands productivity and safety-focused offering with new OptiMine modules

Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology says it has devised the most comprehensive solution for optimising underground hard-rock mining production and processes with new OptiMine® functionality.

Continuing the development of this platform, the newest OptiMine modules expand the existing offering focused on increasing productivity and improving safety, the company says. The new functionalities include smart scheduling, evacuation assistance, and a playback feature.

“Sandvik has always worked with customers around the world to address the key issues that affect productivity and safety,” it said. “And, with customer focus in mind, our engineering team develops new digital solutions to increase operational effectiveness. These tools connect thousands of pieces of Sandvik and non-Sandvik equipment around the world. The latest extensions to the OptiMine suite of solutions add enhanced visibility and control.”

OptiMine Evacuation Assistant (pictured) visualises an evacuation mode, searching for the nearest safe places underground and providing the visibility of personnel locations, according to the company. It guides personnel to the nearest rescue chamber depending on their locations and rescue chamber capacities, making sure they were able to reach a rescue chamber safely. It helps to execute evacuation timely and to focus on things that matter the most, Sandvik says.

OptiMine Playback is built on the 3D Mine Visualizer module and allows to view historical recorded data of locations and statuses of all assets and people that were underground during the selected time period.

OptiMine Smart Scheduling allows automatic adjustment of production plans based on actual shift completion results. It substantially streamlines the process for the execution of the mine’s production plan most efficiently, according to Sandvik.

OptiMine is a powerful suite of digital tools for analysing and optimising mining production and processes. It integrates with Newtrax IoT devices, delivering data from all assets, people, and equipment – including non-Sandvik equipment – into one source, providing real-time and predictive insights to improve operations, according to the company.

“OptiMine is open and scalable, giving customers the flexibility to build at their speed and incorporate other equipment, systems, and networks,” Sandvik added.

Petri Mannonen, OptiMine Product Line Manager, BU Automation, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, said: “Understanding and improving operations in real time changes the game. Our customers are gaining higher efficiency and producing more tonnes each day as they act on these insights. Information and visibility of the operations make mining safer, more productive and more sustainable.”

Sandvik underlines interoperability policy for mining’s digitalisation journey

The COVID-19 pandemic means less people in the mining area, working to achieve the same output; this makes digitalisation no longer a nice-to-have but a vital efficiency mechanism for survival, according to Niel McCoy, Business Line Manager for Automation and Digitalisation at Sandvik Mining & Rock Technology.

McCoy says the challenge when it comes to applying digitalisation successfully is often getting the ‘vision’ right from the outset.

“Most mining companies have for years been working to digitalise their operations, but the difficulty is to know exactly what this process is meant to achieve and where managers want their mines to be in the future,” McCoy says. “Bringing in new technologies means fundamentally changing the way your operation runs, so you need to be ready for the change management that this will require.”

The result is many mines still struggling to develop and apply digital strategies, the company says.

Effective digitalisation, McCoy says, involves nothing less than moving away from the traditional style of management. It means bringing everything towards a more centralised point.

“Digitalisation allows the whole underground mining operation to become visual – as if the ‘roof’ has been lifted off the mine – and to be managed from an operational management centre,” he says. “This gives management a view of all operations in real time, and the ability to optimise the various processes.”

Before any digital implementation can begin, the goal must be clear in everyone’s minds – a picture of what their ‘mine of the future’ looks like, he says. This will then guide the roadmap to be followed for adoption of digital tools.

“Without an end in mind, this will become just another initiative,” McCoy says. “Operations people will be unable to contextualise what the digital solutions mean within the big picture, and how it will improve their day-to-day activities and outcomes. This is mainly due to the data not being used in day-to-day management and decision making. It can never be a ‘side project’.”

McCoy emphasises that digital solutions are not just for managers to see more clearly what is happening on their mines; it is also vital for the people on the ground to run their operations more effectively and efficiently. As a result, there needs to be full buy-in from the start if the intended efficiencies are to be realised in practice.

“The only way of making mining operations more efficient is to understand what is happening and where, and to react accordingly as quickly as possible,” he says. “One of the main shortcomings with traditional, hard copy reporting methods on mines is that it simply takes too long for managers to sort through the raw reports from each shift and identify problems in time to make a meaningful intervention.”

This means that operations can never be properly optimised, according to Sandvik. Digital tools play a valuable role in addressing this challenge, helping mines achieve their key performance indicators.

“A good example of a key performance indicator in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic is this: how do we get the best out of a reduced workforce?” he says. “Once a mine has clarified how it plans to approach this, it can start selecting the appropriate digital tools to achieve its goals.”

Niel McCoy, Business Line Manager for Automation and Digitalisation at Sandvik Mining & Rock Technology

Change management is at the heart of the process, based on short interval control and process management, according to the company, with Sandvik Mining & Rock Technology’s core focus in digitalisation being process management and optimisation, through its OptiMine® product.

There are five different modules within OptiMine that we offer customers, depending on their digital requirements,” McCoy says. “Further digital solutions are also available, relating to aspects including telemetry of non-Sandvik equipment, face utilisation, ventilation monitoring, personnel tracking and ventilation-on-demand through our Newtrax platform.”

McCoy says Sandvik’s experience in this field is substantial, demonstrated by the fact that OptiMine has been installed at about 66 sites worldwide.

He also emphasises that, while industry technology providers have their own specific focus areas, mines need to ensure the different systems integrate effectively.

“As a manager on a mine, you don’t want to have dozens of different login points and dashboards to manage your operational data,” he says. “Rather, you want just a few key interfaces from which you can gather the overview you need. That is why it is so important to have your digital vision and understand what solutions you will require to achieve this vision.”

Interoperability is, therefore, a vital aspect of this digitalisation planning – this is, again, an area Sandvik has been working on, with many of its digital solutions now able to be integrated into platforms supplied by other vendors.

“Sandvik Mining & Rock Technology’s leading interoperability policy commits the company to working with any other type of information system that a customer has on site,” it says. “This is to achieve the effective transfer of data between systems, to make it more useful for the customer.”

McCoy added: “We are very proud of this policy, and are one of the first original equipment manufacturers to make such a policy public. It shows our understanding of the bigger digital picture and our role within it – aimed at ensuring that the customer is empowered to use their data the way they choose.”

Newtrax NVD offers miners customised proximity detection solution

Newtrax Technologies says its New Vehicle Device, or ‘NVD’, is its most “powerful device yet, providing underground hard-rock mines with proximity detection, positioning, and communications capabilities in one box”.

The NVD, launched at the Sandvik Digitalization in Mining event, in Brisbane, Australia, this week, is both OEM and network agnostic, according to Newtrax, and includes peripherals such as sensors and control interfaces to enable EMERST CAS (collision avoidance solution) level nine (9).

L9 will help establish technologies that automatically intervene and take some form of machine control to prevent or mitigate an unsafe interaction, according to Newtrax.

Newtrax says the NVD allows underground hard-rock mines to implement several safety and production control solutions tailored to their needs.

Alexandre Cervinka, President & CEO of Newtrax, said: “Proximity detection devices must be designed to work without any network infrastructure. We maintain this critical feature and enhance the new generation of vehicle devices with positioning and remote communication capabilities, to enable near-miss heat maps, operator behaviour monitoring and remote firmware upgrades.”

In April of this year, Newtrax was acquired by Sandvik to be run as an independent business unit within the division Rock Drills and Technologies in the business area Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology.

Newtrax tackles data silo issues with launch of IoT hub

Newtrax Technologies, a leading provider of safety and productivity systems for underground hard-rock mines, has used the backdrop of the Sandvik Digitalization in Mining event, in Brisbane, Australia, to launch its brand new IoT Hub.

The Newtrax IoT Hub is the first AI-powered data aggregation platform, which enables the mining industry to connect all IoT devices into a single data repository, according to the company.

“It connects datasets and information in real time with a wide choice of software applications, enabling transparency of the mining processes and proactive decision making,” the company, which was acquired by Sandvik earlier this year, said.

This hub provides every mining company – big or small – with the ability to build their own “data lake” through industry-standardised application programming interfaces (APIs), according to the company. “This ensures mining companies can pick and choose from virtually any application they want and build the best solution architecture for their unique requirements,” Newtrax said.

Newtrax told IM that there are several applications inside the IoT hub including:

  • Mobile Telemetry Solution data;
  • “AI-ready”;
  • Scheduler;
  • Task Management; and
  • Asset Health.

While the digital mining tech leader has focused, to date, on monitoring and providing insights on people, machines and the environment in underground mines, it told IM that the IoT hub was ready to also host “any process plant solutions”. Newtrax is not intending to build such a solution though and would, instead, happily integrate with other vendors that already had one, the company confirmed.

Alexandre Cervinka, President & CEO of Newtrax, said the company has seen throughout the industry plenty of examples of separate vendors selling IoT devices that only work with their own software platform, leading to the generation of “islands of data”.

He continued: “However, the real power of data can only be unlocked with the customers’ ability to aggregate the data together to make insights that would not normally be seen. That is where the Newtrax Iot Hub comes in.”

Newtrax, which is run as an independent business unit within the division Rock Drills and Technologies in the business area Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, says it is committed to having an open architecture and will continue to interface with other vendors in the mining digital ecosystem.

The Newtrax news comes only a day after Sandvik said it was opening up its own automation platform for underground loaders and trucks to the wider mining industry through its AutoMine Access API system.

Sandvik unlocks ‘automation’s full potential’ with AutoMine Access API

Sandvik has opened its AutoMine® platform to the rest of the industry with what it says is the mining sector’s first interoperability platform for autonomous underground loaders and trucks.

The AutoMine Access API delivers on the company’s promise made earlier this year at Goldcorp’s #DisruptMining event and is the next step in Sandvik’s continued journey to “set the industry standard for mine automation and digitalisation”, it said.

The application programming interface (API) gives mines the power to connect non-Sandvik equipment to AutoMine – moving underground mining digitalisation even further, it said.

This interoperability move comes just over a year since

Patrick Murphy, President Rock Drills & Technologies, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, said: “As a world leader in underground automation, we have a responsibility to make this game-changing technology easier to implement for the mining industry.

“While we think customers will achieve the highest performance with Sandvik equipment, we recognise the need to unlock automation’s full potential for all equipment regardless of manufacturer. Customers with mixed fleets will now have the full power of AutoMine behind them.”

The AutoMine Access API is a standard set of pre-defined interfaces for connecting third-party loaders and trucks to AutoMine. This means a mixed fleet of underground loaders and trucks can now be managed and controlled with one seamless system.

“An API is a set of functions and procedures that allows the creation of applications that access the features or data of an operating system, application, or other service,” Sandvik said, adding that the third-party equipment is required to meet the AutoMine safety standards.

The API is another step in Sandvik’s journey to drive a digital ecosystem that makes mining smarter, safer and more productiv, it said.

In 2018, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology released its Interoperability Policy outlining how Sandvik systems can communicate within a digital ecosystem including data accessibility, fleet data compatibility, data rights and control, and data privacy.

The momentum continued in 2019 with the acquisition of Newtrax, a leader in wireless IoT connectivity for underground hard-rock mining, and the announcement that My Sandvik, Sandvik’s telemetry solution for machine health and productivity data, would also be available for non-Sandvik equipment.

“Sandvik has been leading the market in underground digitalisation for years, with thousands of pieces of equipment around the world connected to our digital technology,” Murphy said. “As more customers embark on their digital journeys, interoperability will be a requirement. We are proud to leverage our experience to drive digitalisation further in the mining industry.”

Sandvik opens up connections following Newtrax buy

Following the acquisition of Newtrax, Sandvik has announced that the My Sandvik telemetry offering will be extended, creating the opportunity to connect non-Sandvik fleet to the My Sandvik platform.

The move, which is expected to see the first non-Sandvik machine connected to My Sandvik via Newtrax technology in the December quarter, will be done in line with Sandvik’s Interoperability Policy, released in April 2018, it said.

The company explained: “Through solutions such as My Sandvik, OptiMine® and AutoMine®, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology has developed and deployed a leading suite of technology offerings to enable digitalisation of mining operations.

“These products and related services have proven to be extremely valuable in helping customers to improve safety, drive productivity to new levels and reduce costs.”

To date, Sandvik has connected well over 3,000 pieces of mobile equipment to My Sandvik, OptiMine and AutoMine, according to the company.

The company continued: “Although Sandvik has built an impressive portfolio of digital solutions, the first step of the digitalisation journey is often for customers to connect mobile assets through My Sandvik. This Sandvik telemetry solution provides significant, valuable operational insights and enables easy fact-based decision-making through the reporting and visualisation of machine health and productivity data.”

The acquisition of the digital mining technology company Newtrax, completed earlier this year, “strengthens Sandvik’s leading position in automation and digitalisation”, the company said. “The digital tools for analysing and optimising mining production and processes, in combination with Newtrax’s leading technology in wireless IoT connectivity, provide the customer with a streamlined digital solution regardless of the origin of their fleet.”

Michaël Bruninx, VP Parts & Services Commercial, says: “We regard mixed fleet interoperability to be the next logical step for the My Sandvik platform. While we believe Sandvik has the best products within our scope of offering, mixed fleets at our customers’ mine sites are a reality.

“We’ve formed an impressive foundation with Sandvik machines at over 170 mine sites around the world connected to My Sandvik. Now those customers, and new ones, will be able to leverage My Sandvik telemetry reporting across their entire fleets, regardless of brand.”

Sandvik bolsters underground automation and digitalisation capabilities with Newtrax buy

Newtrax Technologies says it has now officially been acquired by Sandvik to be run as an independent business unit within the Rock Drills and Technologies division of the Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology business area.

Newtrax, headquartered in Montreal, Canada, generated revenues of approximately C$26 million ($19 million) in 2018. The deal was previously announced in April, with Henrik Ager, President of Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, saying, at the time, the inclusion of Newtrax into the Sandvik family helped “further strengthen our leading position in areas related to automation and digitalisation”.

The combined expertise of Sandvik and Newtrax will, according to Newtrax, create the “most powerful, streamlined digital solution to improve safety and efficiency for underground hard rock mines” with Newtrax’s leading technology in wireless IoT connectivity, and Sandvik’s leading suite of digital tools for analysing and optimising mining production and processes, including OptiMine® and My Sandvik.

Founded in 2009, Newtrax started as a university project led by Alexandre Cervinka, Founder and CEO, with Co-Founder Vincent Kassis. In 2014, Newtrax received a major investment from Jolimont Global Mining System, an Australian private equity investor in high growth mining equipment, technology and services.

Since acquiring the mining division of ISAAC Instruments in the December quarter of 2016, Newtrax says it has reinforced its position as the world leader in vehicle telemetry systems for underground hard rock mines.

“Newtrax will operate as an independent business unit committed to having an open architecture and will continue to interface with other vendors in the mining digital ecosystem,” the company said.

Cervinka, President of Newtrax, said: “By joining Sandvik Group, we can now confidently say that we have the world’s leading digitalisation solution for underground mining customers.”

Newtrax AI helps out Agnico Eagles’s Goldex mine maintenance team

Newtrax Technologies says it has applied machine-learning algorithms to help Agnico Eagle Mines’ Goldex mine predict mobile equipment maintenance issues up to two weeks in advance.

With the two companies already having an existing relationship at the mine, in Quebec, Canada, Newtrax was approached in the fall to discuss the data Agnico had collected from sensors over the past six years. This amounted to 10 billion data points, according to Newtrax.

“This data was exactly what was needed to apply machine-learning algorithms in order to predict mobile equipment maintenance issues at least two weeks before they were supposed to happen,” Newtrax said.

Daniel Pinard, Team Lead, Special Projects with Agnico Eagle, said this predictive Newtrax AI solution allowed the company to intervene before incurring serious problems that could potentially break vehicle engines.

“Through the use of machine-learning algorithms with Newtrax, we were recently able to analyse an engine that had a potential problem and we saved it from failing. This helped Goldex mine avoid serious damage on that engine which saved them C$85,000 ($63,610).”

The Newtrax AI solution is unique in three ways, according to Michel Dubois, VP QA & Artificial Intelligence at Newtrax, “first, Newtrax has years of unique data that is extremely well suited for machine learning (ML)”.

This creates a source of training data for ML that is unique in the world, with the data growing every time a mining company decides to join in, he said.

“Second, we have a unique AI team who knows how to generate actionable results using existing AI algorithms. And, third, we have a unique approach where our AI specialists go underground and focus on quick wins, and they leverage those existing algorithms to solve high-value problems.”

This is the first ever applied case study for ML in the underground hard-rock mining industry with a defined return on investment, according to Newtrax.

Newtrax said it worked with artificial intelligence and ML researchers such as IVADO to apply existing algorithms to the data collected in mine sites.

Newtrax helps haulage operations at Glencore’s Matagami zinc-copper mine

Newtrax says its Mobile Equipment Telemetry (MET) system has helped Glencore raise productivity and increase operational awareness at its Matagami zinc-copper underground mine in Quebec, Canada.

The operation, which mines the Bracemac and McLeod deposits, first installed the MET system back in 2016 on trucks and LHDs in order to maximise its haulage efficiency. It has ended up doing much more, according to a case study from Newtrax.

Newtrax said: “Glencore Matagami mine has been faced with a continual challenge: how to haul ore to the surface most efficiently. Normally, this isn’t the most difficult challenge a mine faces but, at Matagami, all their ore is hauled with trucks.

“Efficiency is vital at the mine because those haulage trips are more than 8 km in each direction. The huge distance means it’s essential to get every tonne possible onto the truck before it heads to the surface.”

As part of its overall haulage efficiency aim, Glencore needed more information about its operation, Newtrax said – enter Newtrax and MET.

MET solutions provide mine operators with essential information and indisputable data pulled directly from mining equipment, according to Newtrax. “The ability to access this data empowers mining companies to understand the precise manner in which their machines are being used, how well each individual machine is functioning, and can offer predictive suggestions to increase both productivity and profit,” the company said.

“The MET works with all equipment brands and models, and was easily integrated to Matagami mine’s mixed fleet of trucks and LHDs,” Newtrax added.

Glencore Matagami mine used the system in multiple ways, including to monitor the standard production times of equipment; to calculate utilisation of ore haulage; to calculate overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), and; to calculate loads per cycle.

Christian Ngoma, Underground Operations Superintendent of Matagami, said Newtrax technology allowed mine management to get a clearer idea of what is actually going on, thanks to hard data.

“The Newtrax system enables us, from a managerial perspective, to make decisions based on facts that are measurable, instead of perceptions,” he said.

Glencore Matagami installed a custom fit Payload Monitoring System, which interfaces directly with the OEM’s existing sensor network. This, according to Newtrax, enables:

  • Real-time payload data available on the Newtrax Scoreboards and cab display for the operators, and;
  • Real-time payload broadcasted to the Newtrax MET telemetry recorder every five seconds, with no operator intervention.

Ngoma said: “We now have production trucks equipped with Newtrax scoreboards to show tonnage, and the LHD operators use this tool to load the trucks in an optimal way. We now noticed that four out of five of our trucks have an average tonnage of approximately 60 t in comparison to 55 t before.

“The impact of that technology is to optimise the loading of trucks. Especially with the long haulage distance, that is our biggest challenge here.”

Since implementing the solution, Glencore Matagami has been able to raise its average tonnage from 55 t to 60 t, which has increased productivity; especially given the long haulage distances the operation is facing.

Trucks currently travel 8 km on an average cycle, but there is a possible extension to 10.4 km in the coming years, Ngoma said.

After using the Newtrax MET system for one year, the Glencore Matagami team observed the following results, according to Newtrax:

  • Five to six per cent increase in utilisation on ore haulage;
  • Four per cent increase on the OEE, and;
  • Five per cent increase on loads per cycle.

Glencore Matagami Haulage Team Supervisor, Dany Lavoie-Mercier, said: “The standard production time report is an improvement that is more representative of our daily operations. From personal experience, after having presented it to my team, I presented it again the following shift and there was a clear difference in our operations. Everything was optimised from one shift to the next.”

Solutions provided by Newtrax can be used across a number of platforms and systems, allowing for easy adaptability, the company said.

Mohammed Lamine-Lamrani, Reliability Engineer at Matagami, said: “The Newtrax system enables us to transfer data via different networks, which facilitates its adoption into different mines. The system helped us identify the different delays of activities, in terms of our machines, which allowed us to intervene, improve, and increase our OEE.”

Matagami Mine General Manager, Mark Furlotte, said digitalising the operation is part of the company’s plan for keeping the mine looking to the future.

“At Glencore, and Matagami mine, we really want to continue investing on our people, our infrastructure, and our assets. And one of the areas we want to continue investing in is technology,” Furlotte said. “We want to take things that are done elsewhere in the industry – things that are done in open-pit mines – and really bring that underground. We really want to be considered as one of the innovative mines around not only Quebec, Canada, but also the world.”

Photos courtesy of Newtrax