Tag Archives: short interval control

Commit Works expands with dedicated operations in Western Australia

Australia-based Commit Works’ global expansion is continuing with the company set to open an office closer to home in Western Australia.

In recent years, the Brisbane-based company has focused its growth overseas, announcing a move into South America in 2020, following office openings in South Africa, North America and New Zealand in 2017, 2018 and 2019, respectively.

Headed up by Penelope LaMers (pictured), the new office will be based in Perth.

LaMers brings international experience and expertise to her role as Western Australia Regional Lead, and will be supported by Terry Henrikson, Asia Pacific General Manager.

“There’s a growing recognition that getting teams on the same page and building more collaborative workplace cultures is crucial in building performance,” Henrikson says. “Eliminating waste caused by avoidable interruptions is central to solving this problem and relies on providing clear, accessible plans that keep everyone in the loop. This is at the heart of our Commitment System.”

Commit Works provides planning, scheduling and visual management software for the mining industry, with its flagship solution, Fewzion, enabling planners to quickly build integrated shift plans, which are provided electronically to mining and support crews, coordinating the complex work being performed throughout each shift.

“Globally, our software is playing an integral part in helping mining operations shift operational processes to close that gap between current and potential performance,” Henrikson added. “Now is the perfect time to provide even closer support for our Western Australia customers and provide additional access for overseas clients.”

Henrikson believes being on the ground in Perth will enable clients to have direct access to expert services.

“Our market-leading management software supports miners in making key changes in minimising the operational variability and unpredictability that so often stalls progress,” he says. “We strongly believe that our structured partnering approach is a vital part of our success. For companies focused on lifting performance, we will be on hand to offer help.”

Polymathian finds funding for automation work at OZ Minerals’ Carrapateena

Polymathian will be spearheading a A$2 million ($1.5 million) industrial mathematics project funded by industry partners and METS Ignited, and focused on OZ Minerals’ Carrapateena mine in South Australia.

This project will form part of the Industry Growth Centre’s latest Tranche 4 Collaborative Project funds totalling a combined investment of A$6 million, METS Ignited said.

The grant was awarded to Polymathian’s project at OZ Minerals’ Carrapateena copper-gold mine where, in collaboration with OZ Minerals, Downer, Deswik and others, the company is applying industrial mathematics to deploy the world’s first highly automated short interval control (SIC) system for the near real-time optimisation of sub-level cave development and production mining.

Project Lead and Partner at Polymathian, Steven Donaldson, said: “This funding allows us to marry industrial mathematics, automation and mine planning to optimise asset value at Carrapateena and explore how SIC can be done going forward.”

By applying industrial mathematics to the SIC process, the project collaboration automates the optimisation of the mine plan and autonomously dispatches tasks to the underground fleet by responding to live data.

Plans can be updated to respond to dynamic changes in the mine, as live data is received and assumptions change, according to the company. For example, at a weekly level, plans are updated as required for a rolling seven-day window, rather than on a set schedule for a fixed seven-day period. This avoids having fixed weekly plans that are at risk of becoming out-dated.

Matthew Fargher, OZ Minerals’ Senior Engineer for Long Term Planning at Carrapateena, said: “This project pursues a world first in mine planning where the mine plan is autonomously optimised and tasks dispatched in semi real-time to the underground fleet. By doing so, we can potentially remove value destroying constraints such as self-imposed time horizons and subjectivity in decision making to deliver the next best decision.

“We are excited to be a part of the team that’s delivering the blueprint for mine planning and executional change globally.”

Donaldson added: “The potential market for this tool is really quite large as the way we are solving the problem is very generic. We see this solution having potential to optimise operations across all hard-rock underground mines in Australia and globally.”

The project also has the potential to create new jobs at Polymathian including accelerating the growth of its newly opened Perth office.

METS Ignited Chief Executive, Adrian Beer, says the quality and capability of the funding applicants is becoming increasingly more sophisticated, with a number of the solutions having broader applicability across a number of sectors.

“This round of project fund recipients demonstrates just how capable our leading global METS sector is, and what is possible within our local technology sector,” Beer said.

“We are extremely proud of what has been achieved by the project fund recipients to date, and this new addition to the project funding shows that we have a huge potential to build upon.”

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.”

Nornickel’s digital mine plan taking shape

Norilsk Nickel has recently launched a new operational control centre at its Oktyabrsky mine in Russia, leveraging the underground infrastructure investments the company has made in the past five years across its Polar Division operations as a way to increase its operational efficiency.

The Oktyabrsky centre, which cost around $1.6 million to install, monitors mining operations on a continuous basis, using communications infrastructure and positioning systems to locate equipment and people underground. It is part of the company’s Technology Breakthrough program, a project launched in 2014 to digitise and automate most processes at the company’s extensive mining and processing facilities by 2020.

By the end of 2019, similar operational centres will be built at all Norilsk Nickel Polar Division mines (Skalisty, Komsomolsk, Taimyrsky and Mayak, according to the company, with the five centres set to cost the company around $6.3 million in total.

Norilsk said: “The launch of the operational centre at the Oktyabrsky mine was possible due to long-term work on the creation of underground infrastructure, which was carried out at all of the company’s mines in the Polar Division as part of the ‘Technology Breakthrough’ project.

“The project installed radio communications and positioning systems to locate mining equipment, it also installed fibre-optic communication as well as Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is now available in every mine. Every mine is also equipped with cameras.”

This infrastructure has enabled personnel at these mines to receive real-time data on shift targets without human intervention, according to Norilsk.

In addition to this, the company has developed a “Ten-day shift schedule” software, which helps schedule the work of miners over this period, Norilsk said, explaining: “The planning system’s algorithm distributes the amount of work and equipment per production and shifts, taking into account the cyclical nature of the process and the initial data.”

The use of this software has allowed Norilsk Nickel, in certain cases, to abandon a non-centralised and manual approach to mine planning. “The software functions from a database, which contains information on the performance of all the equipment, mining operations, distances from loading sites to ore chutes and skip shafts, etc,” the company said.

Mining operation plans from different phases and areas at the Oktyabrsky mine are now integrated into a centralised planning system, with the “Ten-day shift schedule” leveraging data from MICROMINE’s exploration and mine design solution, Micromine. This creates a 3D program of the ore being developed, helping optimise the mining methods and sequence of processing reserves.

In reference to the new operational centre, Norilsk said: “Transferring mine operation monitoring, management and planning functions to the operational centre, together with the installation of new technologies, will contribute to a 10% increase in labour productivity.” This will also make it possible to improve both the quality and consistency of the ore mined and shipped to the Talnakh concentrator.

ABB closes the short interval control and scheduling loop

ABB, in collaboration with Boliden AB and ArcelorMittal Mining Canada, has launched ABB Ability™ Operations Management System (OMS) for mining, a system that “connects and coordinates mine operators, workforce, equipment and all mining activities in real-time, from face preparation to crusher”.

OMS maximises coordination between weekly production plans and dynamic situations in the mine to improve efficiency, increase productivity and maximise profitability, according to the company.

The company explained: “Mine planners often have to build a short-term plan with limited visibility of ongoing activities in the mine. While mine operators constantly consider and evaluate a complex set of operational constraints, adjusting to ever-changing, day-to-day and hour-to-hour situations. This can impact operational efficiency and raise costs.”

ABB says the integration of short interval control and closed loop scheduling into a single digital platform, ABB’s OMS, will improve responsiveness to unplanned events and reduce production variability through all the mine stages.

The ABB Ability OMS can present ‘what-if’ scenarios in case of task failure or operational change, helping mine operators and planners make better decisions faster, ensuring ongoing operation of the mine and increased productivity, it said. Equipment availability is also improved by moving from a reactive to a predictive maintenance model, according to ABB. “Through all the stages of the production cycle, the production flow from the mine is maximised.”

Eduardo Lima, Product Manager for Integrated Mine Operations at ABB, said: “Although it may seem simple, the coordination between the tactical plan and the operational plan is one of the top challenges faced in modern mining. By offering advanced short-term planning and increased automation, ABB Ability Operations Management System enables the mine to act as an ore factory.”

He added: “Ore inventory can be tracked and controlled to allow maximum flow and optimal grade. By integrating operational technology and information technology, operational awareness is increased for all personnel.

“Staff see the same information at the same time and can jointly decide what actions to take in real time with no need to wait until the end of the shift.”

Short interval control application allows mine operators to monitor and review operational plans and performance based on targets, metrics and key performance indicators. Variances can be analysed and mitigated in real time during a shift for immediate corrective action.

The closed loop scheduling application, meanwhile, combines high-level planning with low-level control through a “heuristic auto-scheduling algorithm”. ABB said: “This allows mine planners to achieve new levels of production scheduling efficiency from bench preparation to crusher, optimising resource usage in real time and following the production plan more effectively.”

In developing ABB Ability OMS with ABB, project teams at both ArcelorMittal Mining Canada’s Integrated Remote Operations Center and the Boliden Mine Operation Center provided operation expertise, existing infrastructure and dedicated resources support, ABB says. The technology was piloted at Boliden’s Renstrom underground mine, in Sweden, and by ArcelorMittal at the Mont-Wright open-pit mine, in Canada.

The ABB Ability OMS is part of the ABB Ability MineOptimize portfolio of digitally connected products, services and solutions aimed at enabling modern mines to “maximise visibility, reliability, productivity and energy efficiency and optimise performance”.

GMG publishes new short interval control guideline

The Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG) says it has published the Guideline for Implementing Short Interval Control (SIC) in Underground Mining Operations.

SIC is a structured system in which data from mining processes are periodically reviewed and action is taken in response to them, GMG explained. “This guideline provides a roadmap to increase the speed and likelihood of success during SIC implementation while avoiding common pitfalls.”

Specifically, the publication presents a conceptual model of what SIC could look like that includes an operational framework, detailed workflows, and an outline of data enablement at various levels of maturity, according to GMG.

SIC has only recently begun to be used in underground mining, although it has a long history in the manufacturing industry.

GMG said: “One challenge in implementing SIC is tailoring it to the operation at hand because underground mining conditions can be unpredictable, but the guideline offers mining stakeholders a base of knowledge of how it can be applied.”

Greg Sandblom, Operation and Business Technology Lead at Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations, a Glencore Company, says the guideline “can provide a valuable reference to mining companies during all phases of SIC deployments at existing mines or new mine projects”.

He continued: “It can effectively act as a checkpoint to validate that lessons learned and experience from leaders across the mining industry are applied to their implementations.”

Lisa Önnerlov, Development Engineer – Industrial Design at Boliden, said there was potential for the application of the guideline for those already using a SIC system.

“Even though we have been working with SIC for many years, we still have a lot to improve,” she said. “We face challenges like refining the overall coordination and to take advantage of new technological possibilities and make it useful in reality. We hope that this guideline will be a tool for both benchmarking and as a common reference in collaboration with other mining companies working with SIC.”

SIC has the potential to increase productivity and lower costs, according to GMG. As the practice becomes more common, it will, in turn, become increasingly accessible, according to Gordon Fellows, President of Fellows Mining and Digital Solutions.

“Achieving the greatest benefit from SIC comes from monitoring and controlling the shortest interval, but results are possible even at lower levels of maturity and at lower cost,” he said. “As technology evolves, it will make it simpler and less expensive to reach higher levels of maturity.”

One highlight of the process of developing the guideline, according to Liv Carroll, Senior Principal, Mining Transformation and Applied Intelligence at Accenture, has been the input from and cooperation between various stakeholders in the mining industry.

Carroll said there had been “effective collaboration between operators, service providers, consultants and technology specialists alongside the GMG team; our industry working as one for the benefit of all”.

She added: “In working together, we have drawn on a breadth of global and diverse experience to amalgamate leading practices into the guideline considering all levels of maturity and allowing for future evolution.”

Looking ahead, implementing SIC offers great potential for positive change in the industry because it facilitates better planning, quicker decisions, increased production, lower costs and creates a safer working environment, according to GMG.

GMG Chair, Michelle Ash, says: “I am very excited to see the publication of the SIC guideline because it is not only the culmination of a lot of work from many people, but also a fundamental building block for the transformation of our industry. I am looking forward to visiting mines post implementation and seeing the case studies that arise from their efforts.”

Hindustan Zinc after improved safety, productivity with Epiroc’s Mobilaris solution

Hindustan Zinc, India’s only zinc-lead-silver producer, has selected Epiroc to equip its flagship Rampura Agucha mine with Mobilaris Mining Intelligence™ (MMI).

A decision support solution for mine safety and efficiency, MMI enables superior situational awareness and is designed to visualise and support mining operations in all its complexities, in real-time, Epiroc says.

Hindustan Zinc has introduced various technologies and innovations and has obtained success in enhancing safety, efficiency and exploration, according to Epiroc.

Back in 2017, the miner looked to automate many of its operations, acquiring Epiroc drill rigs, LHDs, haul trucks (including the MT65) and exploration equipment to be used in five of its mines in northwestern India. The automation and other high-technology features of the equipment were enabled through the common Rig Control System, with most machines are equipped with the telematics solution CERTIQ.

Following the latest MMI order, Sunil Duggal, CEO, Hindustan Zinc, said: “We are continuously making efforts to develop better, connected and intelligent mines. The partnership with Epiroc will support our direction to develop safer and more productive operations at Rampura Agucha mine”.

Ulla Korsman-Kopra, Global Business Manager, Automation and Information Management at Epiroc, said the company would support Hindustan Zinc’s operational (mining) improvement processes with the MMI solution. “The globally-acclaimed features will take Hindustan Zinc’s operations to the next level of performance gains,” she said.

The MMI portfolio features situational awareness, short interval control, including machine data integrations, and traffic awareness promises to get maximum productivity and efficiency out of a customer’s mine, according to Epiroc.

“Thanks to the openness and transparency of the MMI solution, integrations with mixed fleet machines, sensors and more will create the foundation for vital real-time analytics,” Korsman-Kopra said.

The system is expected to be operational during once the networking is up and running at the Rampura Agucha mine.

Rampura Agucha is the second largest zinc mine in the world, according to Hindustan, with production of 3.9 Mt in the company’s 2018 financial year. It has a zinc-lead reserve grade averaging 15.7% Zn+Pb, with total reserves of 46 Mt as of March 31, 2018.

The ongoing underground mine project is being developed with a vision of producing 5 Mt/y of ore and includes a main production shaft of 955 m depth, 7.5 m diameter and hauling capacity of 3.75 Mt/y; two ventilation shafts, two declines from surface and paste fill plants, according to Hindustan.