September 252019

IIoT and Interoperability for Mining Industries

Indian Perspective
Skill shortages in mining industry have been more pronounced across the board in compared to other industries. Many mining companies are now coming forward and adopting IIoTs for their mining operation. There are evidences they are beginning to seriously consider the benefits that IIoT can bring to the bottom line. The mining industry, globally, is in early stages of IIoT adoptions with just 2% have fully deployed an IIoT solution, a further 29% are trialling IIoT solutions, with remaining 69% planning to do so within next couple of years (Data Source: Inmarsat Research 2018)

There are high hopes for IIoT in the future for a number of applications: improve health and safety for employees, better decision making and increase staff productivity.

The remoteness of many mines, combined with the challenge of multiple sites spread over great distances makes connectivity an especially pressing issue for the mining sector. Factor in a growing move toward automation, smart exploration and sample analysis and the need for reliable connectivity is more important than ever.

Mining businesses are generally confident in the ability of IIoT solutions to help them both save money and generate new sources of income. While the cost savings and turnover increases are negligible today, mining businesses expect their IIoT solutions to deliver an additional 9 per cent to their top lines and reduce their operating costs by 16 per cent within the next five years (source: Inmarsat Research 2018)

Interoperability:

Once former Nokia CEO, Stephen Elop said, “we didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost”. Nokia tried controlling every aspect of the customer experience. Ever tried to get data off a Nokia phone? Lack of interoperability led them to becoming irrelevant. Mining is a process and only by connecting each piece to the process we are going to see the big picture. The Digital Imperative is a step towards Mining Industry 4.0 where all equipment can talk as part of a connected process.

Every day in the mining world, a new company is finding ways of automating the capture of new sources of information into the Mine Operations. This data could be simply an expansion of what was previously collected manually or could be improvement to existing technology and thus increasing the volumes of data and the clarity of results.

Coming back to our bigger picture view, to execute on IIoT and the vision of Mining 4.0, vendors need to have interoperability and data intelligence solutions that can operate across the customer’s end-to-end process. It needs to fit into the overall operations and integrate in a more real world environment where there are multiple vendors in the ecosystem. This is the real world of the Future of Mining.

As with Data, vendors that are creating next generation technology in autonomy have to understand that they are just part of an overall customer process. Unfortunately, that may not be how all vendors are implementing this process. Much of what we are seeing from the “thought leadership” in autonomy vendors seems to be a closed control stack. Systems being invented and tested seem to have a completely closed silo from the vehicle to controls, fleet management and data systems all the way up and down the stack. That’s fine if the customer is going to exclusively operate with only one OEM vendor, who hopefully also has their existing fleet management system for manned operations, but that just isn’t reality.

In today’s world, client’s expectations are for greater interconnectivity and seamless interoperability, so different systems can deliver data to those who need it, in the form they need it. Data interoperability are therefore crucial to data management strategies in every organization. However, teams and organizations are often overloaded with day-to-day operations, and have little time left to introduce and adopt standards, technologies, tools and practices for greater data interoperability. Within the process of devising such strategies, exploring and adopting conceptual frameworks can help practitioners to better organize ideas and set the scene for the development of more tailored, detailed, and interoperable approaches to data management.

Wenco understands that data is becoming more and more important to mining customers. Today data is held in many different pockets and typically segregated by technology.

Wenco has a mantra that information generated and stored in a Wenco system is owned by the customers and can be used in their enterprise to help give a better understanding of all areas of their Fleet and productivity. We call this, interoperability, which is share, interact, import & export.