Tag Archives: Software

Talisman’s ProdMate evolving from its big data roots

“The wider mining industry might have been talking about the concept of ‘big data’ for less than 10-12 years, but it’s been on our agenda since 1988,” Chris Wilkinson, ProdMate Chief Executive Office, tells IM.

“We were the first to apply flash memory in a non-military application, at the time buying 156 kb flash drives to record data coming off continuous miners.

“We were pioneers of ‘mining’ data for improving operational performance.”

Wilkinson and his team, now within Talisman Partners under the Talisman Technical subsidiary that acquired ProdMate in early 2022, have come a long way in the 35 years since it started in the data and process improvement realm.

The company has expanded from analysis of continuous miner operation in coal mines into developing a four pillar-strong ProdMate integrated production management platform that has applications across all types of operating mines.

These make for a holistic, equipment- and mining method-agnostic platform that, when used in tandem and with an adequate change management process in place, can increase production by up to 40% within six months, according to the company.

ProdMate found its feet in the South African coal market in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Then, around 1999, a large international mining corporation came to the company looking to apply the system and change management at one of its mines in South Africa.

“They initially saw a 44% increase in production in the first year and continued driving process improvement and KPI analysis over a further three years to achieve an 80% production improvement and world-class productivity,” Wilkinson said of this mine-site installation.

Such results – with a high-profile client – put ProdMate on the map in South Africa, with around 85% of the domestic coal market eventually taking up its use.

The step-up in performance at numerous mines was also a reflection of ProdMate’s ongoing evolution, according to Wilkinson, moving from a hardware and software company to one focused on powerful software that could be applied on all equipment and mining methods, regardless of vendor.

“We soon realised that it didn’t matter how many sensors on the equipment you had feeding you data, you still needed humans to tell you things about the mining environment to provide that required operational context,” he said.

This led to the development of mobile device software to report, in real time, what the machines were doing. This has since become the ProdNote mobile device software that makes up one of the four modules within ProdMate.

A planning board followed soon after, providing an alternative to the Excel-based reporting that miners had been using. This Excel alternative creates a digital shift plan and targets that all team members can follow. Combining digital planning with machine data process analytics and actual production data, as well as task completion and downtime recorded in real time via the ProdNote mobile device software, completed the “closed loop” digital management system.

The MOS Meeting Manager was the last input to complete the puzzle: “What we felt was missing was an electronic meeting manager that could help clients track issue resolution through action tracking across the mines hierarchy of MOS meetings, making accountability and resolution of problems simpler to manage,” Wilkinson said. “Many clients implemented MOS systems but mine management were concerned that people spent too much time in meetings and not enough time supervising their core functions. We auto linked information to the correct meetings, created data analytics to help make meetings more efficient and allowed clients to track organisational efficiency.”

As it stands today, customers can pick and choose between all of these modules, integrating with any other software platforms they may be using to improve and track their operations.

“The real power of this is when you integrate it all together,” Wilkinson said. “When all four modules speak directly to each other, and to any other complementary systems, there is a clear cause and effect that allows for accelerated and effective decision making.”

It goes further than this, with an embedded digital twin allowing companies to sketch out theoretical scenarios if, for example, a critical production machine goes down.

“This digital twin keeps running and automatically updates, allowing the operation to see what effect this outage has on the mine schedule,” Wilkinson said.

All this information comes with a digital record to allow for not only regulatory reporting, but also ongoing learnings and knowledge transfer.

“At any point, shift managers can go back into the data log and carry out a post-shift review of what happened in that particular moment,” Wilkinson said. “This is priceless for new employees as they can follow the same path that resolved a similar situation last time.”

There are also integrations with the ProdMate system – think fleet management, personnel proximity, air quality station systems, etc – some more advanced applications already benefit from.

Wilkinson sees further functionality being added to ProdMate in the future, too.

“We’re no longer in the big data realm; data paralysis is a real thing and the biggest cause of falling ROI on software systems,” Wilkinson said. “We’re now all about information transfer and utilisation; making sure only valuable data gets to decision makers or analysis systems.

“I think we’re just scratching the surface with this as an industry and ProdMate will continue to evolve to integrate with new solutions that provide valuable information, not simply data.”

DEUTZ and Talpa develop FUSIONHub software platform for enhanced data visibility and use

DEUTZ says it is expanding its digital services portfolio with the help of Talpa Solutions, a leading IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things), analytics and intelligence solution provider for heavy industry.

The engine company has been cooperating with the company to come up with its FUSIONHub software, a platform that can analyse engine data as well as the entire application, from tyres to each of the machine’s add-on components.

According to DEUTZ, users will benefit in many ways, gaining access to the maintenance schedules of the engines they are using and seeing how long their machines have been in operation. Highly detailed control system data helps to minimise machine and component downtime while increasing productivity, it added. The data also helps to improve business performance, optimise costs and minimise operating risk.

FUSIONHub works with companies in the heavy industry sector to use data that would otherwise be lost. The software has two key benefits: first, fleet operators can deploy their machines more efficiently. Second, because FUSIONHub allows OEMs and dealers to develop new service offerings, such as sophisticated diagnostics and repair solutions, companies are able to boost service life across their machines’ entire lifecycle.

Machine owners also benefit from solutions such as performance monitoring, which reminds them about maintenance cycles and provides prompts to optimise processes and machines.

Howden continues to bring energy and ventilation efficiency to mining operations

Howden’s Ventsim™ CONTROL may have been introduced 15 years ago in Canada, but the cutting-edge mining innovation continues to be refined, the company says.

Ventsim is designed to reduce energy consumption, associated costs and improve energy efficiency in underground mine ventilation systems.

The Ventsim software suite uses advanced algorithms to analyse real-time data and adjust ventilation equipment to maximise energy savings while maintaining safe working conditions. As the global mining industry continues to face increased pressure to reduce its carbon footprint, it offers a valuable solution by optimising energy usage and reducing wasted energy, Howden says.

Howden, a Chart Industries Company, has focused on innovation with this software to meet the needs of ventilation and automation engineers by developing a solution that requires no prior programming. The site team can manage Ventsim CONTROL on an ongoing basis which means there is no need to continually bring in third parties to make changes as the mine’s requirements change.

This was a need in the market in 2009 when Ventsim software was introduced. The software has become even more relevant today, where resources are expensive and scarce, and mine plans – in many cases – need to be commodity price sensitive. Ventsim CONTROL can incorporate sensors, hardware, and software from any third-party supplier and has grown to become a key ventilation-engineering tool across the mining sector.

In recent years, Howden has developed the software with the complementary addition of 3D modelling and simulation components of Ventsim DESIGN, a mine ventilation simulation software, to allow mining companies to achieve optimal visualisation of their ventilation systems across their operations.

In a recent update, the software’s 3D tracking visualisation of personnel and vehicles was improved through the ability to tap into existing site-wide tracking systems at most modern underground mines.

Benoit Dussault, Lead Software Engineer at Howden, told IM: “We are working hand-in-hand with tracking providers on this solution, incorporating the x, y, z coordinates associated with these ‘tags’ or deploying a zone-based approach where these coordinates are not available.”

A real-time gas simulation that can incorporate data inputs from gas sensors around the mine and predict the gas concentrations going into areas not equipped with sensors is also being integrated into the software platform as part of expanded control and optimisation functionality. The same can be said about heat simulation, which was introduced last year.

The company is also refining its energy management and control toolkit, building on the energy dashboards it has had in place to visualise energy consumption, energy savings and, more recently, carbon emissions.

“We are implementing a carbon calculator this year that builds on those energy reports,” Dussault explained. “The software will track your emissions, allowing companies to benchmark their consumption and emissions against a plan.”

Later in 2023 and into 2024, the company hopes to put ventilation-focused, artificial intelligence-backed algorithms to work at mine sites, potentially taking the company’s ventilation optimisation abilities to new heights.

This would also coincide with a new web-based interface, introducing BI dashboards and reporting to an already impressive line-up of features.

While all these elements have global applications – and Howden itself is a global player in the ventilation sector – Dussault was keen to emphasise Canada’s influence on the ongoing evolution of Ventsim CONTROL: “Our first full Ventilation on Demand installation projects were in Canada back in 2009 and 2012. The latter, the Newmont Eleonore mine, is still significant for us from a project perspective. They [the mines in Canada] continue to play a vital role in developing the software continuously.”

IDS GeoRadar widens rockfall radar support with latest RockSpot update

IDS GeoRadar, part of Hexagon, has announced a new software update for RockSpot, its innovative radar system able to locate, track and notify on rockfalls.

RockSpot’s latest software release expands the data analysis performance with new tools supporting an efficient rockfall risk zonation, TARP fine tuning and back analysis to reduce operational and geotechnical risks, according to the company. The new multiple statistical tools allow users to manipulate the events database and plot custom charts based on defined areas and items – such as event rate, duration/area extension, velocity and run out distance of rockfall – for a comprehensive back analysis, models calibration, integrity of rockfall controls and design change justification.

Rockfalls are a major safety threat in open-pit operations. The sudden onset of rockfall events makes it difficult for conventional monitoring methods to provide adequate pre-warning and a comprehensive analysis, resulting in a challenge for mine operators and planners.

RockSpot is, according to IDS, the industry’s first end-to-end solution able to trigger notifications on rockfalls in real time and to maximise rockfall hazard management, providing an explorable rockfall database for back analysis and an automatic classification of falling events.

This compact and powerful radar picks up falling rocks in near to real time and working crews receive prompt notification for action along with immediate access to all event’s details that are tracked, stored and classified in a rockfall events database.

IDS concluded: “RockSpot provides 24/7 continuous monitoring night and day to actively support in sync risk management with real-time notifications and improves risk mitigation and planning operations with multiple statistical tools to analyse the collected data for cost reductions in mitigation measures.”

Orcoda’s OWLS software platform to be used at Kestrel’s coal operation

Orcoda Limited says its wholly-owned subsidiary Orcoda Resource Logistics has signed a software as a service (SaaS) contract with Kestrel Coal Pty Ltd.

Kestrel is one of the world’s largest producing underground metallurgical coal mines that produces around 7 Mt/y of metallurgical coal from its mine in the Bowen Basin of Queensland, Australia.

The Orcoda Workforce Logistics System (OWLS) provides a tailored solution to manage and oversee the workforce accommodation of Kestrel Coal’s 700-strong employees and contractors on site to enhance automation, efficiency and compliance, according to Orcoda.

The SaaS contract is for an initial term of three years and the expected revenue is made up of an initial implementation fee plus a monthly licence fee with a contract value of A$255,000 ($177,384), which could increase if Kestrel Coal later adopts additional features from the OWLS platform.

Geoff Jamieson, Orcoda Managing Director, said: “We are delighted to offer a solution to Kestrel Coal for managing and optimising their workforce accommodation on site. Our OWLS platform was specifically developed to manage mobile workforces in people-intensive industries that involve significant remote workforce management procedures, which are manually intensive at present. This means there is often limited visibility in the onboarding-to-roster cycle and between different teams within an organisation. Orcoda believes our software and contracting expertise will deliver significant benefits to Kestrel Coal and other similar companies in the natural resources/infrastructure industries.”

Bosch Rexroth opens up BODAS software use, lays groundwork for off-highway automation

Bosch Rexroth says it is opening up its mobile electronics software, BODAS, to all manufacturers and partners as part of a move to help OEMs speed up the launch of new machines and functions.

The company plans to offer manufacturers of off-highway machines free access to the entire standard portfolio of BODAS software for controlling mobile machines, with the company set to highlight this at the upcoming Bauma 2022 event in Munich, Germany, in October. Via the digital myBODAS platform, OEMs can download validated software packages for a range of applications, free of charge, in order to test them and adapt them to suit their own requirements.

Proven modules within the platform minimise the time, investment risks and costs involved, with the service only billed via a payment model based on credits if the software is used during series production. This makes it easy to use, flexible and transparent, Bosch Rexroth says.

“Whether it be hydraulic control, automation, connectivity or electrification – software plays a central role in the highly dynamic off-highway market,” the company says. “In order to achieve success with their mobile machines, OEMs must reduce the development time in a cost-effective manner while reducing functional and financial risks.”

Following registration and confirmation of the terms and conditions of use, the individual modules in the BODAS application software (AS), such as the eDA for the drivetrain, are then available. The modules are developed in accordance with current standards and already meet functional safety requirements, the company says. As a result, Bosch Rexroth helps manufacturers of any size to cope with increasing complexity in vehicle development, to compensate for a lack of know-how or resources and to update or expand their offering more quickly, it added.

“This way, the OEMs’ software developers can concentrate on selected customer values and speed up the launch of new functions and machines,” the company said. “They can also scale their own offering more quickly with software modules validated for Rexroth hardware.”

The open ecosystem of BODAS is being expanded all the time with standardised, extensively documented modules. myBODAS, thus, offers a toolkit for various control tasks involving mobile machines which is always up to date, the company explains. The growing need for automation solutions and the rapidly increasing number of assistance functions such as payload estimation, position sensing or surround sensing also make the system an attractive proposition.

Related to this, the company will present an integrated portfolio for the needs-based automation of off-highway machines, such as excavators, wheel loaders and telehandlers, at Bauma 2022.

The assistance functions cover advanced sensor systems and intuitive operating devices, including driver assistance functions for more efficient working and even virtual walls and emergency braking assistants for greater work safety. Ready-to-use software modules help to reduce the integration time into existing and future vehicle architectures and speed up their market launch, the company says. And, as a hardware platform for higher automation levels, Bosch Rexroth will announce a microprocessor-based, ROS2-compatible robotic control unit.

The automation portfolio presented at Bauma 2022 will be based on the BODAS platform for hardware, software and telematics.

The current range of assistance functions for productive and safe working processes includes easier levelling, load capacity measurement during handling operations, electronic vibration damping and various motion control systems for wheel loaders and telehandlers. Virtual walls and virtual rotary limiting systems protect the immediate surroundings by preventing the machine from accidentally leaving the safe working area. A number of functions can be adapted for other sectors, for example for tractor front loaders.

A ground-breaking HMI concept provides an intuitive user experience, the company says. This is based on ergonomic Sense+ joysticks with multi-dimensional optical and haptic feedback as well as high-resolution, high-contrast and glove-operable BODAS displays with easy-to-record visualisations for the relevant assistance functions.

The BODAS ecosystem also includes telematic modules for remote updates over the air, software remote maintenance and interfaces for transferring the wide range of operating data generated by the automation functions to ERP systems and their digital processes.

The new sensor systems for ultrasound, radar and inertial measuring systems form the basis for numerous other automation functions by recognising objects in the surroundings and recording the position of the kinematic systems with respect to each other via acceleration. There are plans to add extra functions and sensors such as LiDAR on a step-by-step basis, the company says.

For object recognition and terrain mapping, Bosch Rexroth is working with Bosch to develop a ROS2-compatible perception stack. On this basis, Bosch Rexroth plans to offer complete function packages in the future – from sensor integration and object recognition to machine intervention.

The new control platform is currently being developed, with prototypes for pilot projects available from the middle of 2023.

Commit Works appoints new CEO as it looks forward to another year of growth

Frontline work management software company, Commit Works, has, this week, handed over the reins to newly appointed CEO, James Aleman.

Aleman comes to Commit Works equipped with 25 years of Software-as-a-Service knowledge and experience offering solutions to a variety of asset-intensive industries including mining and construction.

Andrew Jessett, Acting CEO at Commit Works and Australasian VP at RCF Jolimont, said Aleman had been chosen from an extremely competitive field.

“James combines business acumen, software knowledge and insightful understanding of the mining industry,” Jessett said. “He also has a range of management experience and curiosity that could not be more relevant or necessary to Commit Works’ current standing and its future success.”

Commenting on his appointment, Aleman said: “Commit Works is a company with an excellent reputation, a clear ethos and a promising future. I am deeply honoured to take on the role of CEO and excited at the prospect of contributing further to the success of our longstanding clients, who have been foundational in the company’s growth.”

He added: “Commit Works’ deep relationships with its clients has underpinned the business’ success, and I’m keen to see that continue. The incredible recent growth of the company – 70% in 2021 – is testament to the endeavours of the Commit Works team. I look forward to working alongside them.”

Centric partners with SFTP Mining to unlock key mining metrics

SFTP Mining, a Côte d’Ivoire-based mining contractor, has partnered with Centric Mining Systems, part of the Datamine family, to, it says, provide efficient access to key project metrics not only for SFTP but also for its mining clients.

Centric Mining Systems has now been implemented at two SFTP projects, with plans for continued expansion. Further partnerships and integrations are planned, as existing Centric mining clients, including Perseus Mining (part of the fleet at the Sissingue mine pictured here), look to collaborate with their contractors to further access and share data.

“Working with Centric Mining Systems on this project is not only beneficial to SFTP given Centric’s demonstrable track record of success across Africa, but also to the wider contract mining services sector as it continues to develop in Africa,”  Hendrik Kruger, Country Operations Manager at SFTP Mining, says.

Centric’s data collection and management solutions eliminate inaccurate reporting and wasted time. Instead of hours of paperwork, unreliable spreadsheets and uncertainty in data accuracy, Centric helps bring mining operations into the 21st century, the company says.

Chris Novak, CEO of Centric Mining Systems, says: “SFTP knows that productive mines and projects depend on proven solutions that standardise workflows, ensure accountability and improve collaboration. We are confident that Centric will unlock significant value for SFTP Mining by ensuring end-to-end visibility of the entire production process and the ability to adapt faster to changes and opportunities.”

With a focus on health and safety, production metrics, and equipment utilisation, staff at the project site can accurately track and report all production-related activities, anticipate risk and foresee opportunities to enhance performance, Centric says.

Novak added: “In today’s mining industry, access to information is essential to achieve operational excellence. The value of a digital mine lies in the wealth of data available across the value chain and the insight to make decisions that will affect the short-term and long-term future of your business.”

Centric is a global software solution provider that specialises in data acquisition, systems integration, data warehousing, knowledge generation and decision support solutions specific to the mining industry.

Howden causes a fanfare with launch of Jetsteam AX

Howden is looking to re-enter the Australian secondary ventilation market with a bang, coming out with a new product that offers the energy efficiency, durability and smarts to help ‘future proof’ underground mines.

Its Jetstream AX secondary fans were launched across the globe this month, with service centres on the east and west coast of Australia having already received units.

Phil Durham, Global Mining Applications Engineer, said the Jetstream AX secondary fan is the missing piece to complete the full Howden ventilation puzzle.

“Howden, in the past, was heavily involved in the secondary market in Australia, but some years after exiting this space, the new Jetstream AX is filling the gap in our lineup, helping complete our total mine ventilation solution approach,” he told IM. “Howden has the Ventsim™ DESIGN software, the Ventsim CONTROL ventilation on demand software, plus all the required equipment including a comprehensive primary fan offering, mine cooling options and mine heating options.

“A global secondary fan was needed to complete the set, meaning we can now be considered a one-stop shop for miners wanting to go down the full Howden route for ventilation.”

While the Jetsteam AX will be available in all markets – bar USA where Howden already has a secondary fan offering – Howden sees it being particularly relevant for the Australian market where evolving diesel particulate emission regulations are making effective ventilation operations a must.

“These regulations will definitely affect how those mines manage, monitor and control their ventilation network,” Durham said. “The smart move would be to use their secondary fans more efficiently in terms of how and where they are locating them, which ones are operating and tightening up on where the working areas, vehicles and personnel are.

“In this respect, the Australia region is a key one in terms of the secondary fan product rollout.”

Just some of the attributes the region’s miners could benefit from, according to Howden, include:

  • The highest fan output at low power consumption, providing high efficiencies across a broad operating range;
  • A range of fans from 762-1,600 mm in diameter, with flow rates from 6.5-108 cu.m/sec;
  • Single-stage or twin-stage configuration;
  • A flexible modular design providing commonality of parts;
  • Adjustable pitch aerofoil blades to maximise operational envelope and provide reliable high-efficiency aerodynamic performance across a wide range;
  • An anti-stall chamber for continued safe operation during transient high-pressure events, offering a “risk-free process” in parallel fan arrangements; and
  • Downstream guide vanes with full inner fairing tube and tail cone in each fan to ensure maximum static pressure regain.

Durham expanded on some of these.

“That main inner fairing tube serves a couple of purposes, with one of the main ones being a reduction in shock losses,” he said. “That same design helps from a maintenance perspective, too, providing protection for the motor. In other ventilation fan designs, the motors are exposed to the dusty mine air. The inner tube provides a good level of protection, without being a totally sealed environment. Some air gets through for motor cooling purposes, but it is much less than your typical exposed fan.”

The option of a dual-speed fan could also be important for gaining sales in Australia given there are limited variable speed drive options in this market than others, according to Durham.

“In Australia, specifically, variable speed control is not a very common option due to the required 1,000 V supply,” he said. “Currently there are no proven reliable variable speed drives at such voltages.”

This dual-speed fan offering provides the mines with high and low speed settings – with high typically employed to, for example, clear blasting gases and low employed when a vehicle leaves the airway, and the ventilation demand reduces.

To get the best out of dual-speed fans, mines will most likely require remote access to easily switch from one setting to the next, according to Durham.

Miners that understand the benefits of using dual-speed fans – reducing energy consumption and costs – will also, most likely, be potential customers for Howden’s ventilation on demand and smart ventilation solutions, namely Ventsim CONTROL.

“We are definitely seeing an increase with the number of mines looking to adopt these new technologies and smarter ventilation control methods,” Durham said. “As they are moving towards digitalisation and automation of mining methods, ventilation is also coming into that equation. This is especially so when you consider that the energy cost coming from ventilation and cooling can be around 50% of the mine’s total expense.”

The use of effective secondary fans is part of that exercise, according to Durham, who said efficiencies of over 85% are possible with these units when used optimally.

“Although the primary fans are generally a much higher kilowatt rating, these mines usually have quite a number of secondary fans in operation,” he said. “Being able to use them in a smarter way on a day-to-day basis means they will be able to make some large savings there.”

Fortescue and K2fly in it for the long haul

Fortescue Metals Group has extended its contract with K2fly as it looks to bolster its tenement management processes across its operations in Western Australia.

The miner has been using K2fly’s Infoscope Land Management software since 2012. Its use has expanded over time to cover multiple business units including tenements and acquisition, heritage and native title, environment approvals and its vocational training and employment centre.

Infoscope helps small and large companies maintain their social licence to operate on land, providing “a single, spatially integrated solution to manage information relating to land access and compliance across multiple industries”, K2fly says.

“It delivers effective stakeholder, tenement, cultural heritage, native title and environmental management, along with a full lifecycle ground disturbance process.”

FMG has recently raised purchase orders in excess of A$300,000 to have additional developments made within its Infoscope solution, the software provider said. The assignments will start in July and is due for completion within the first half of K2fly’s financial year 2019.

K2fly CEO Brian Miller said the contract extension with FMG, which uses Infoscope on a ‘Software as a Service’ basis, “indicates the long-term value FMG sees in the solution”.

“This services and consultancy contract extension comes at a time when other service contracts have been won by K2fly including significant opportunities with Western Power which were previously announced. This will have a material impact on K2fly’s revenues in the first half of FY2019,” he said.