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The Internet of Things and the Surface Mining Industry

“The Internet of Things” has recently become a buzz word in many industries and business environments. But what exactly does this term mean, and how does it relate to the mining industry?

Simply put, the internet of things (IoT) refers to connecting various items to the internet and to each other, usually by adding a small internet-capable communication device to an existing machine or appliance.

Most of us expect ICT products (computers, cell phones etc.) to have internet access and the ability to communicate with each other, but the true value of IoT in mining lies in the ability to connect more traditional, non-ICT products to each other.  Some examples of this include adding internet connectivity to vehicles, machinery, remote sensors, and even people in the form of advanced tracking devices.

In a surface mining context, this mostly relates to using internet connectivity to track the whereabouts, status and activities of mine personnel, equipment and the surrounding environment (rock movement water levels, etc.). One of the most practical and valuable applications of the use of IoT  for real-time monitoring of surface mining is using digital technology solutions to monitor the performance of mobile equipment, the people who operate them and the environment in which they are operating.

Good IoT-based systems, like Argus from MineWare, can make production and safety management much more efficient in a surface mine by helping to optimize the use of vehicles and equipment, highlighting poor performance and dangerous behaviour, warning about practices that may lead to increased wear and tear and maintenance requirements, and generally making the whole mine management process more efficient through the clever and appropriate use of IoT technology for real-time monitoring.

Linking the feedback capabilities exemplified by Argus on the digging fleet with, for example, a fatigue monitoring system like Lifeband by SmartCap provides mines the ability to measure the impact operator fatigue has on productivity.  It is no secret that fatigue is a leading cause of accidents in mines around the world, and for this reason alone, the risk needs to be addressed.  But, what isn’t well acknowledged yet is the negative impact fatigue is having on productivity.  IoT technology allows us to understand this phenomemon more deeply.

The internet of things is here to stay in mining . . . at Ramjack, we connect geotechnical instruments (like extensometers), hydrological sensors (like piezometers), enviornmental monitors (like gas detectors), and safety devices (like fatigue predictors) to the appropriate data telemetry and management systems to compile all the information required to run a mine productively, safely and efficiently.

Contact us now to find out how our real-time technology solutions can help make your surface mine a safer and more productive place.