JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Advisory firm Deloitte has launched an Intelligent Mining Solution that illustrates how digital transformation in mining can address legacy industry challenges, improve safety and enable the required step change in performance.
Deloitte collaborated with several technology business partners to develop a uniquely compelling Intelligent Mining Solution. To date, four use cases have been developed for the intelligent mine.
Deloitte energy and resources strategy and operations leader Rhyno Jacobs told Mining Weekly Online that the Intelligent Mining Solution is aimed at addressing “specific point case solutions”.
Jacobs notes that the four use cases displayed at the Deloitte premises are meant to entice people to think about digital transformation and the possibilities enabled through digital technologies, in a way that is relatable and easy to understand.
“If you ask people to think about a digital transformation journey, it’s difficult for people to wrap their minds around the enormity of what can be done and how . . . but if you talk about five or six different things – as demonstrated here – it’s easier to relate . . . to match a solution to some of their challenges.
“They can see how it creates value and this creates momentum in terms of the operator envisioning the start of their operation’s digital transformation.”
Jacobs noted that the Deloitte solution has a “core” comprising enterprise resources planning (ERP) software, with additional software solutions added on.
“We did some research and about 48 of the top 50 mining companies in the world use SAP software for their operations. It makes sense to have that as a core . . . we’ve incorporated a myriad of other solutions into this core.”
Deloitte digital architecture leader Reinhard Arndt added that the core is able to adapt to most ERP software solutions used by mines, and that the solution is not dependent on miners buying specific products.
Meanwhile, of the four use cases, one of the more relatable, as well as one that has been implemented on some mines to a minimal degree is that of Short Interval Control. This uses real-time or near real-time updates on customised or specific performance indicators, to inform front line supervisors and their managers of problems, thereby, empowering them to actively address the problems, rather than reacting to them.
Jacobs noted that the Intelligent Mining Solution provides a more accurate and complete view of areas of responsibility. Moreover, the single solution monitors and relays data on disparate elements such as workers, the mine environment and the capital equipment.
The second use case is that of gamified performance management. This enables real-time performance feedback at the end of a shift – at an operator and crew level.
It integrates operating metrics – collected underground or at the mining face – allowing the operator to be notified of his previous shift's performance. He is notified of his team’s rank, as well as individual rank, as he leaves the mine through a gamified dashboard using Unstructured Supplementary Service Data, or USSD, technology.
Deloitte’s Predictive Maintenance solution combines a series of Internet of Things devices on key mining equipment – sending real-time operational metrics such as temperature, vibration, load factors, oil analysis and more to predictive monitoring algorithms.
Engineers are able to see and monitor equipment vitals at any point in a shift. The predictive nature of the algorithms flag imminent failures.
Once again, the focus is on being active rather than reactive. There is also a “digital twin” feature, which uses mobile technology, such as smartphones and tablets, and radio frequency identification barcodes to create a digital copy of a piece of equipment, which can be used to show a technician the step-by-step process of maintaining and/or replacing the equipment, or for training purposes.
Finally, Integrated Digital Planning enables rapid re-planning allowing management to rapidly adapt and generate an integrated and robust blueprint that considers multiple scenarios, and provides stability under varying operational conditions.
Jacobs commented that the adoption of these technologies should be gradual, for the most part.
“Certain companies have already started implementing these technologies. I can think of two miners that are already really advanced in terms of their digital transformation as they started investigating the possibilities a few years ago. Most will start with specific proof of concepts, perhaps adopting one of the use cases.”
Further, he noted that, despite the apprehension surrounding automation and digital transformation, and its impact on jobs, he believes it will be some time before digital transformation impacts on employment in South Africa.