At the core of all of these is digitalisation – a force which has upturned a variety of markets, but which, as this research demonstrates, has only just started to make an impact in mining. The intelligent implementation of digital technologies like IoT could transform mining, making it more productive, efficient, safer, sustainable, and profitable, and therefore better able to take on the challenges it faces.
While mining organisations have been slower on the uptake of automation and robotics than those from other sectors in this research project, the data indicates these technologies will become a more prominent part of the mine of the future. Indeed, some 63 per cent of our mining respondents expect to achieve greater automation through their IoT deployments at some point in the future. This reveals the way in which IoT networks with smart sensors will provide the foundation for a smarter mine of the future.
In order to operate in a coordinated way which adapts and reacts to the environment around them, these autonomous machines need to be able to interact with each other and understand what is going on in the mine. By deploying connected smart sensors in a network, IoT makes it possible to automatically pick up data from previously elusive locations and for this data to be communicated rapidly to other devices – sowing the seeds for a network of automated devices that adjusts to environmental conditions in real-time.
At a time when the comfort of the office is becoming a global norm, the mine remains a uniquely hazardous and inconvenient workplace. Automation offers a way around all the risks and expense inherent in employing people in these locations, while bringing the precision and bandwidth of technology to the coalface.