The volatile commodities markets are forcing many mining operators to pursue solutions that maximize yield recoveries and improve operational efficiencies. Mining companies also face a growing skills shortage, driving the need to incorporate new systems and technologies for greater connectivity and improved information sharing.
These challenges require mining companies to better understand operations, improve performance and reduce safety risks. Rockwell Automation has outlined key steps operators can take to achieve these goals through the creation of a connected mine.
Through the convergence of information technology and operations technology, mining operators have the ability to streamline data management, gather better insights and predict recoveries. By collecting data from various equipment and distributed points, operators and managers are also able to make improvements across the operation – from hitting daily targets to improving asset performance and throughput.
Much of the same data, pulled from a mine’s production infrastructure, can be used to produce more accurate energy reporting and forecasting, helping to optimize asset utilization and energy efficiency without impacting output.
“Controllers, smart devices and software in a connected mine can give you access to thousands of points of process and machine data that, until now, have been inaccessible,” said Paul McRoberts, regional manager of Industry Mining, Metals and Cement, Rockwell Automation. “Throughput sensors can monitor feed and processing rates, flow, viscosity and other variables to help improve asset performance.”
Rockwell Automation is also working with mining companies to establish a purpose-built control floor, giving workers real-time visibility across operations. Autonomous mining, and remote monitoring and control solutions impact overall employee safety across the entire supply chain. Modern distributed control systems enable fully integrated operations for flexibility and rapid decision-making.
Companies looking to gain new flexibility in an effort to meet future supply-chain demands need to take the necessary actions to migrate control systems. Updating historically disparate systems will create a new level of operational intelligence and improved productivity for mining operators.
A white paper outlining the implementation and benefits of a connected mine is available in the Rockwell Automation online newsroom.