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Mining sector looking to automation to increase profits

DEPENDABLE Industrial robots can enable mines to run more efficiently and safely

WORKING TOGETHER It is a misperception that robots and automation reduce job opportunities

Photo by Bloomberg

30th October 2015

By: Bruce Montiea

Creamer Media Reporter

  

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Automation is becoming one of the leading focus points to increase profits in the mining sector, says automated robotic solutions company Robotic Innovations (RI) co-owner Marlyn Mostert.

She says industrial robots can enable mines to run more efficiently and safely, as they are designed to perform specific and repetitive processes consistently.

Robots can also be used in high-risk environments, such as foundries, chemical laboratories and X-ray applications, to reduce risk to human beings, Mostert notes.

Mostert says RI helps companies to achieve low-cost and high-quality production, as return on investment is based on the robot’s reliability, consistency and accuracy.

“Robots produce quality work reliably and consistently, which leads to reduced re-work rates and, therefore, a reduction in additional costs.”

Mostert notes that there is a growing trend of companies investing in automation in many industries, such as the automotive industry, which cannot succeed without using robots in their manufacturing and production processes.

“To participate in the global market, and to meet the consistency and quality standards expected, the correct technologies have to be used to manufacture products and the dominant technology used is robotic automation,” she elaborates.

She tells Mining Weekly that a similar trend is developing in the mining industry. This is partially owing to miners wanting to overcome challenges, such as low productivity and absenteeism as a result of strike actions by mineworkers.

Mostert further says it is a misperception that robots and automation reduce job opportunities. “It is quite the contrary, as people are still required in sectors such as logistics, manufacturing and stores,” she says.

In addition, Mostert says, even with the increasing use of robots, there is still a role that can be played by humans, as the robots have to be operated by people.

“The role of robots is to ensure consistent quality; however, manufacturing is still managed by people and, in addition, robots still require ongoing programming and maintenance by people.”

Ultimately, robots are also environmental friendly, as they use less electricity than large mining machines; production also increases because robots are faster and more agile than large machines, she states.

Customer Service
RI, founded in 2004, has remained competitive and up to date with the latest technological development by attending as many robotic and automation industry shows as possible, locally and internationally, says Mostert.

She adds that the company also manages to continually increase and diversify its products and service offering by constantly including an increasing number of distribution agencies for its industrial robots.

Good after-sales service and support also ensure that customers return, says Mostert.

In addition, RI also runs a free life-long training programme for all its customers on how to programme and operate the robot systems, which has proven to be beneficial for them, she adds.

“We offer the formal training course at our dedicated training centre, as well as on site at the premises of the customer to ensure that attendees are familiar with their robot solution. The training can be customised to meet a customer’s specific requirements.”

RI also has a 24-hour stand-by team to tend to all support requests from customers, Mostert concludes.

Edited by Leandi Kolver
Creamer Media Deputy Editor

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