IAN BAGSHAW The use of digital technologies continues to increase significantly
Mining engineering multinational Sandvik Mining and Rock Solution’s Zimbabwe-based Technology Centre is assisting the mining industry’s journey into the digital future by bridging the gap between technology and people.
The centre, Sandvik territory manager Ian Bagshaw explains, is the “human side” of digital technology that teaches people how to easily and intuitively use digital technologies to improve safety and productivity at mining operations.
Launched in April this year, the centre forms part of Sandvik CEO Stefan Widing’s 2025 strategy – “We make the shift” – one of the key pillars of which is “the digital shift”, which aims to increase the use of digital products and tools in the mining industry.
As evidenced throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, Bagshaw says the use of digital technologies increased significantly, despite their “not quite [being] as intuitive or easy to use as we initially thought”.
“Everything is monitored and connected, and technology is about taking data and turning it into useful information. Digital tools are now taking that information and compiling it into useful information, from which insights can be created to enable mines to make focused decisions,” he explains to Mining Weekly.
The above forms part of another key focus area of the centre: to make mines safer and more productive.
However, the power of the digital tool lies within human hands, hence, the Technology Centre, Bagshaw says.
The technologies employed by Sandvik essentially “take the lid off the mine, revealing vital real-time information such as tons mined, and holes drilled, equipment utilisation, machine uptime and much more”.
The Technology Centre can use various Sandvik solutions to make the data useful for clients. These include My Sandvik for equipment monitoring using up-to-date information, OptiMine for integrating resources and optimising processes, and AutoMine for automating mining activities.
OptiMine mainly focuses on analytics implementation, which Bagshaw says is “the next step” in the process of turning collected data into information that can be collated into mine insights.
There are three projects under way at the Technology Centre.
The My Sandvik solution is being provided for 100 machines at one site, while OptiMine is being installed on a 76-unit fleet, and AutoMine is used to create a trucking loop for a single-unit pilot project.
Sandvik’s digital solutions are a catalyst for mines to move away from paper-based and static data platforms.
In addition to installing the hardware and software to generate real-time data, the Technology Centre also works closely with clients on how best to use the reports, which are subsequently built into the mine’s daily operations and real-time decision-making, which Bagshaw says will “bring the productivity value add”.
The Technology Centre – headed by centre manager Hosea Molife – is basically a support centre, Bagshaw says.
“It’s like buying a state-of-the-art computer or cellphone and only using 10% of its power; the centre will improve the overall user experience and ensure we all maximise our digital tools,” he concludes.