Mining shifts focus to technology, automation

1st May 2020

Technology implemented alongside the correct logistics and strategy, makes a difference to age-old industries, automation company SICK Automation noted in a press release in February.

As the mining industry is faced with numerous challenges relating to growth in a digitised economy, it is in urgent need of technological transformation.

SICK Automation cited its ‘Sensor Intelligence’ as a step toward such a transformation, noting that the solution “draws on its complete system expertise, supplemented by 70 years’ experience in sensors and sensor application solutions”.

Further, the solution combines detailed application knowledge with reliable software architecture to optimally integrate its sensors into a company’s system.

“South Africa is leveraging technologies to improve mining efficiency and safety, and is fine-tuning the transformation from manual operations to more automated mining.”

The company added that it is leading the way as a continual mining brand. “Whether it is an underground or opencast mine, the company has an automation solution that has been industry tested and optimised to suit South African mining conditions and needs.”

SICK Automation noted that it has over 44 000 products, which are able to address most challenging industry applications, such as those that require high precision proximity detection systems.

Laser and Radar Scanners

The company stated that as a “leader in laser scanner innovation and researching and developing this technology for over 40 years”, its laser scanners and programs are used around the world for geomapping, as well as protecting miners underground.

“Designed for indoor and outdoor applications, for day and night use, and with special weather filters, these laser scanners can go where humans cannot, and reach levels that no other product can.”

Further, SICK Automation’s extensive range of laser scanners provides “intelligent scanning solutions for wide-reaching logistic and automation requirements”. Applications for mining include material flow and volume measurement, driver assistance and collision avoidance as well as continuous emissions monitoring systems (CEMS).


Citing the Carbon Tax, which came into effect on June 1, 2019, SICK Automation pointed to its CEMS solutions, which have been specifically designed for measuring emissions at mining and industrial facilities.

These systems measure pollutants, reference quantities, and perform data processing on the results in accordance with relevant national or international legislation.

“Technology has an important role in the mining industry. Countries that implement national initiatives that drive transformation and inclusive, broad-based development goals are more enticing to investors.”

SICK Automation noted that research and development combined with the adoption of innovation are keys to the sustainability of the mining industry in South Africa and the rest of the continent.

It concluded that it offers consulting and design services to ensure that its solutions are tailored to a mine’s specific requirements whether it be the copper, coal, diamond or platinum sectors.