Tag Archives: virtual reality

Ecolab uses mixed reality to troubleshoot process water problem at phosphate mine

Ecolab’s Remote Assist program has leveraged mixed-reality technology to overcome COVID-19 restrictions and provide critical, speedy customer support to a mining company in the Middle East.

The company, a customer of Nalco Water, an Ecolab company, was suffering from an unknown mechanical issue, which impacted chemical dosing for process water treatment. As a result, the phosphate mine was facing a potentially costly disruption of its activities.

“Not too long ago, the mine’s remote location of approximately 1,400 km away from the nearest technician might have led to operations being curtailed for several days,” Ecolab said. “Challenges created by the pandemic further hindering the technician’s ability to travel could have made the outcome even more bleak. However, by leveraging mixed-reality tools that combine elements of virtual reality and augmented reality to create a blend of the physical and digital world – in this case, a hands-free tablet-class wearable computer – Ecolab’s mining division was able to come to the rescue in a timeframe that would have been unthinkable just a few short years ago.”

Connecting with a senior engineer at the treatment plant, the Nalco Water technician was able to communicate in real time, inspecting the equipment to gain an understanding of the operational challenges on site. Safely working together in a virtual environment, the two associates were able to quickly diagnose the issue and replace the component that was ultimately behind the problem.

“Service that would otherwise have required two days of travel was completed in just one hour, saving travel costs, maintaining social distancing and reducing the carbon footprint,” Ecolab said.

As well as offering mining and mineral processing programs that combine chemistry, automation and control technology to help plants optimise production, Nalco Water’s proprietary 3D TRASAR™ smart water treatment system has enabled the company to offer the benefits of remote monitoring and troubleshooting on over 40,000 units installed worldwide, Ecolab said.

Arjan Boogaards, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Global Mining & Mineral Processing, Nalco Water, said: “We have greatly optimised productivity for our customers with these innovations, but, inevitably, the occasional mechanical issue will call for service and support that is outside of the scope of smart controllers and automation on site. That’s where we can apply mixed-reality technology and continue to transform the future of service and support by enabling expedient, accessible issue resolution. We can help connect our customers to a global infrastructure of research, innovation, engineering and digital experts in a faster and more efficient way.”

Ecolab’s Remote Assist program incorporates mobile applications that can connect to a remote collaborator. Through live video calling, annotations and sharing high-resolution snapshots with the remote collaborator, users can co-operate to troubleshoot problems quickly, according to the company.

Use of the latest mixed-reality technology enables Ecolab to gain remote access to its customers’ facilities in several beneficial ways. Its sales and technical representatives in the field can wear mixed reality devices for a “digital focus first, real-world focus second” approach to basic digital training in safe environments, Ecolab said.

Mixed reality also enables them to virtually connect to Ecolab’s scientists, engineers and cross-functional teams for support. This enables them to remotely diagnose and troubleshoot issues around contamination, oversee chemistry usage, guide the installation of new equipment, monitor water and process conditions and, ultimately, implement solutions that maximise customer productivity.

“This is most definitely an approach both we and our clients will continue with, even after COVID-19 has become a bad memory,” Boogaards said. “The pandemic has sped up the process for many companies to adopt digital tools, and they are dramatically improving their operations. The time and money savings are undeniable, so companies that do not make use of these tools could place themselves at a competitive disadvantage. We’re clearly entering a new era.”

Rajant to showcase Kinetic Mesh networking advantages at Mining World Russia

Rajant Corp, the provider of Kinetic Mesh® wireless networks, is to attend Mining World Russia, taking place at Moscow’s Crocus Expo.

The international trade show, which is in its 25th year exhibiting machines and equipment for mining, processing and transportation of minerals, takes place on April 20-22, 2021, with Rajant joining its partners.

Showcasing collaborative solutions for fully-mobile mining connectivity will be Rajant’s Russia-based distributor CompTek and technology providers LANIT, AMT-GROUP, CROC, DCLogic, NEMAN and SATEL.

Showcased alongside Rajant’s networking will be LANIT’s virtual reality/augmented reality “smart glasses”.

Equipped with a video camera and compact screen, this technological solution’s software operates over the Rajant network and enables visualisation of on-site observations to command centres for collaborative off-site expertise to complete all phases of the mining mission successfully.

“You need a Mission Critical network to enable AR in hard-to-reach challenging locations,” Nikita Ivanov, CompTek’s Head of Sales, said. “CompTek’s integration partners in Russia and the CIS are committed to evolving mining’s overall productivity, safety and efficiency. With Rajant and its partners, a fully digitalised mine is possible.”

Rajant says its partnership with CompTek, a Russia-based distributor of network and telecommunications equipment, has brought together other Eastern Europe and CIS partners to demonstrate support of machine-to-machine connectivity and mobility for open-pit and underground mining.

Marcin Kusztal, Sales Director Eastern Europe and CIS for Rajant, says Rajant’s network is “unique”.

He added: “Our Kinetic Mesh BreadCrumb® nodes overcome the mine’s constantly changing conditions, which hinder connectivity and real-time application support, with industrial wireless networking that is unwavering in adverse and mobile environments.

“Rajant’s self-optimising Kinetic Mesh nodes work via multiple-frequency, peer-to-peer connections. Plus, the BreadCrumbs can be fixed or mobile, ensuring a mining operation’s continuous productivity and safety.”

MacLean Engineering’s digital twin technology takes shape

Having witnessed – and benefitted from – the electrification and automation evolution going on in the underground mining industry, MacLean Engineering is also leveraging digitalisation to improve machine analysis and performance for its customers.

The Sudbury, Ontario-based company, over the last few years, set itself a target of creating a digital twin for every MacLean mining vehicle and, Stuart Lister, Vice President of Marketing & Communications, says the company is now at a point in its product development evolution where it can share some progress.

On the real-time analytics front, the company has a purpose-built vehicle monitoring system on its 15-unit fleet of battery-electric vehicles at the Newmont Goldcorp-owned Borden gold mine in northern Ontario, he said.

“This system streams real-time performance data (both tramming and application) to the cloud for remote analysis and better decision making for maintenance and operations personnel at site,” he explained.

This MacLean IntelliOp VMS package consists of sensors and display screens installed on each unit, supported by analytics software that “distils vehicle performance data” based on an OEM-level of product design knowledge, according to Lister.

“IntelliOp presents actionable data and provides prompts on the in-cab screen so that it offers up immediate benefits with regard to operator performance,” he said. “It also clears away the background noise of vehicle health telemetry by presenting this data in a way that enables predictive maintenance decision making, not bring about ‘decision overwhelm’.”

Lister said the company is also taking a “leap” to a cloud-based documentation platform for parts books and parts ordering as well as technical manuals. This online environment provides a high level of offline functionality and is where “almost real-time downloaded PDFs” can be created easily and quickly, he said.

“Our new ‘Documoto’ parts ordering portal will have the look and feel of a best-in-class consumer retail experience,” he said. The company is also able to layer on a library of training content, for example ‘how-to’ videos that MacLean thinks will be of great help to its customer base. “Going forward, we’re going to build this content out with training videos shot in our test mine,” he said.

Lister continued: “And, speaking of training, a great example of the MacLean digital twin philosophy taking shape is our development of a virtual reality (VR) bolter that offers up a digital simulation of a bolter environment within a headset.”

The company showed off this VR innovation at the CIM Convention, in Montreal, earlier this year, providing visitors with a hands-on experience of the immersive training world of virtual ground support installation.

Lister remarked: “It’s easy to transport and the technology is well known and well-liked by the coming generation of underground miners who are growing up with this type of technology as part of their day-to-day.”

MacLean also has plans to extend its VR capabilities to pre-op walkarounds and full simulator treatments for the MacLean Blockholer and MacLean Shotcrete Sprayer, it previously said.

He added: “The MacLean digital twin is indeed taking shape and, we’re just getting started.”

Next up for the company is connecting its real-time vehicle performance data and the cloud-based parts book and technical manuals repository with each unit’s maintenance history.

“The scenario is a mine’s service technician showing up at a piece of mining equipment, with a tablet that can instantly get a picture of the work that has been done to that unit, along with predictive maintenance suggestions – maintenance tasks and parts,” Lister said.

“This is just one example of how the rollout of the digital twin, if done right, could make a practical difference in underground mining. That’s why we’re devoting resources to pushing forward in this area.”

Analytics, data and security on the Austmine 2019 agenda

Austmine 2019 is set to delve into the future of analytics, data and security, key themes that are setting the agenda for the next horizon in the mining industry, according to event organisers.

Running from May 21-23 at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Austmine 2019 will, organisers say, feature thought leaders from around the world, who will present their insights into the latest developments in digital efficiencies and live analytics systems, as well as how big data is leading to change across the industry.

“The topic of digital change is one which encompasses the entire value chain, with the optimised use of data leading to production efficiencies, while also having favourable human and environmental outcomes,” the organisers said.

For Austmine 2019, presenters will cover a broad range of perspectives, from mining companies, METS, academia and government.

One of the keynote speakers is Michelle Ash, Chair, Global Mining Guidelines (GMG) Group, who will examine the question: “Disruption is here: how will we harness it?”

Ash said: “I am really excited to be speaking at the Austmine 2019 conference and sharing with delegates how digital technologies are impacting mining around the world.

“There are some amazing advancements in other industries that are also applicable and exciting, but as always, the technology is only part of the challenge implementing them into our organisations, and driving the value and impacts of safety, the environment and productivity is key to the success.

“Delegates will also hear about some of the keys to ensuring that implementation of technology is successful, and how we can increase our rate of change as an industry.”

Other speakers slated to present include Rob Cunningham, Mining Operations Manager at CMOC Northparkes Mines, who will explain how the company is driving an Improvement Innovation Culture at its operations, which embrace the latest block cave mining technologies.

Rob Labbé, Director, Information Security, Teck Resources, will delve into cyber security – enabling the digital mine through cyber risk management and collaboration – while John Vagenas, Managing Director, Metallurgical Systems, asks the question – “Blue pill or red pill? Digital case studies within mineral processing.”

During his presentation, Vagenas is set to explore why so many companies are hesitant when it comes to digital transformation.

“Essentially, digital transformation is about turning data into information so as to gain full transparency into a plant’s operations,” Vagenas said. “For many companies in our sector, it can be an uncomfortable notion. Transparency isn’t always immediately popular, as it threatens how much control some people have over what is and isn’t reported. But, in reality, it can deliver such an enormous and rapid benefit that it’s madness not to make the transition.”

Joining this speaker line-up is Barry Elliot, Vice President, Enterprise Accounts: Heavy Industries, Rockwell Automation, from South Africa, to provide insights into improving mining value from operations data.

He is set to outline solutions around data collection, storage, visualisation and analytics, with a focus on the company’s scalable analytics approach, the FactoryTalk Innovation Suite, as well as applications of AR/VR for visualisation, according to organisers.

In addition to a focus on analytics, data and security, other key themes are set to include the human element of technology, intelligent equipment, sustainability, as well as integration and connectivity.

The two-day conference will be complimented by workshops, a sold-out exhibition, networking opportunities, the Industry Leaders’ Dinner and Awards and more, organisers said.

International Mining is a media sponsor for the upcoming Austmine event

MacLean Engineering to showcase VR tech at CIM show

MacLean Engineering says its newly developed virtual reality (VR) bolter technology will be front and centre on its booth at this year’s CIM Convention, in Montreal, from April 28-May 1.

The VR tool on show will provide visitors with a hands-on experience of the immersive training world of virtual ground support installation, the company said.

Two other MacLean technology initiatives will also be highlighted in convention presentations – battery-electric vehicle (BEV) material haulage trial results; and, real-time vehicle monitoring that delivers a shortlist of actionable data to support operator safety, machine life and predictive maintenance practices.

MacLean’s Vehicle Monitoring System (VMS) technology package will be discussed during an Innovation Stage presentation on the trade show floor on Monday afternoon, while MacLean’s BEV material haulage ramp trial results from 2018 will be the focus of a technical session on the Wednesday afternoon of the convention.

“This past year we made significant investments in our in-house technology development capabilities,” said MacLean President, Kevin MacLean.  “This means we now have our own teams of vehicle monitoring programmers and remote-control mechatronics experts – a whole new generation of MacLean employee, one that will help propel the company’s product development along the path from remote to semi-autonomous to fully-autonomous fleet operations.”

“Our 2018 purchase of an underground test facility in Sudbury gives these new teams a world-class underground mining lab for technology prototyping and product testing, all at the service of delivering safer, more productive, less costly fleet operations to our global customer base,” added MacLean Founder and Chairman, Don MacLean.

“Maclean’s technology push is closely linked to the imperative of training to ensure safe and sustainable adoption of new technology in the underground environment,” said Patrick Marshall, Director of Mining Technology. “As mining companies go deeper and to more remote locations to chase economic orebodies, they are necessarily going to be operating in jurisdictions without longstanding, experienced mining labour forces. So, the focus needs to be on training and that means providing the whole range of tools and expert trainers, required to build knowledge to be passed along at site level on an ongoing basis. Our VR Bolter is one of those tools – a highly transportable, accessible and engaging learning environment developed expressly for the next generation of miner who has grown up in a digital age, just as mining itself is joining the digital age in a significant way.”

 

Newmont speeding up mine plan decisions with digital and VR technologies

Newmont Mining, in a recent blog, has provided more details of how it is using digital technology and strategic mine planning to improve decision making at its operations.

One of the examples the leading gold miner gave was how it is using Maptek’s Vulcan Stope Optimiser at its Tanami gold operation in Australia.

This software delivers full 3D capabilities on stope shape generation and block model analysis without manual digitising, according to Maptek.

“Used at our Tanami operation, Vulcan delivers an improved approach for open-pit ore control polygon optimisation and helps reduce design time by roughly 98%,” Newmont said, citing a Maptek case study.

Virtual reality is another technology helping the company make smarter decisions, faster, it added.

“Paraview software – an open-source, multi-platform data analysis and visualisation application – delivers 2D data maps at a 3D scale, helping engineers and technicians envision geology models with greater precision,” Newmont said.

“With virtual reality, we are better equipped to identify potential problem areas and make smarter planning decisions.”

Newmont says it makes investments in these technologies only after asking – and answering – this question: “Does it add value or reduce risk to the business?”

“To help us answer this question, we partner with academic and industry experts to develop, source and test tools for driving mine optimisation. Only after rigorous trials result in proven value creation can teams then consider a wider rollout across sites,” it said.

One example of Newmont’s technology research and development work is its partnership with Montreal’s McGill University to launch the COSMO Laboratory – a global consortium dedicated to advancing the mine of the future.