/ MEDIA STATEMENT / This content is not written by Creamer Media, but is a supplied media statement.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is coming to a mine near you. And it would be a determined Luddite who resists this new wave – the next great industrial revolution that is transforming our world.
Bell Labs has described the “goal of the Internet of All Things to be to build a digital infrastructure that predicts and automates the mundane, enabling people to concentrate on more productive and creative things.”
This allows us to be more creative and gives us the space to focus on productivity, rather than having to make sense of terabytes of data. The race is on to build bandwidth, 5G technology and a server within 100 km of every person on this planet. This is not going to happen overnight, but it is happening, and it is important that we don’t get left behind by this new industrial revolution.
So what has this to do with mining and mine safety? A sensor on everything, animate and inanimate, allows the all-seeing algorithm to generate knowledge and then make predictions and decisions based on this knowledge. Instruments (sensors) installed throughout a mine can monitor groundwater levels, displacement, extension, settlement, seismic activity, fall of ground, temperature, the location of personnel and plant - the list is only limited by our imaginations and the ability of existing technologies.
For instance, fall of ground in a stope will be recorded by the datalogger/SCADA system, which will then allow the algorithm to send out alerts to the necessary personnel, direct rescue teams to the scene, divert mine traffic appropriately and shut down any affected machinery.
Rio Tinto is already using this kind of technology where a single operator now controls a fleet of automated vehicles, improving safety, productivity and downtime. This is artificial intelligence (AI) at its best, providing intelligent automation of tasks, sometimes in a better and more effective way than its human counterparts. AI analyses all of the data and makes the call, and it isn’t governed by emotion. The algorithm that controls the operation needs to be programmed by experts to make sure that the correct data is used and there is no bias built into the decision-making process.
As it stands, sensors are available to us to monitor geotechnical parameters, as are data loggers and SCADA systems. These systems are able to interrogate the data and send out alerts should set thresholds be exceeded, which obviates the need to have real time, manually monitored systems, so in one sense we are already venturing down this road. But there is immense scope for integrating traditional instrumentation systems into the IoT.
GeoZone GeoServices has been designing, supplying and installing geotechnical instruments in dams, mines and tunnels since 2011. Ged Davie, the director of GeoZone, says that “these are exciting times to be involved in monitoring and instrumentation due to the exponential rate of development of these new technologies and their impact on how we interface with our world. Integrating existing systems into IoT is going to be the greatest challenge”.
The new rule for the future is going to be, "Anything that can be connected, will be connected."
For more information on how geotechnical instrumentation can make your mine safer, more efficient and reduce your risk profile, please contact GeoZone GeoServices on firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.geozone.co.za or call on 033 343 3915 or 082 9260626