IOT and Big Data are changing the way we do business. IOT is the future of the mining industry because it is truly disruptive as it is affordable and leverages advanced sensor technologies, a variety of connectivity networks, edge computing, Big Data technology platforms, data science, data processing and interactive visualization. While Operations Technology (OT) like SCADA, DCS, PLCs have been used for business critical operations at the mines, plants and supply chain operations, IOT can extend it beyond the OT domain.
I believe that the industry or individual customers cannot ignore IOT and Big Data because of the scale of their impact. The need of the hour is to eliminate waste at every step and the mining process has to be benchmarked at a more granular level to take decisions based on real time data.
IOT platforms that combine IOT data with enterprise data can help uncover metrics which are outside the ambit today. Some of these include - mine landslide and equipment failure predictions, optimization of drilling and blasting based on data and fuel efficiency per ton of ore extracted.
An IOT platform enables consistent real time data visualization to ensure the quick resolution of issues while the closed loop performance metrics monitoring helps to measure the extent of improvements. Thereby IOT solutions help to reduce the production loss and improve productivity and utilization.
Let us try and understand the broader impact of IOT and Big Data on the mining industry. Firstly, IOT solutions can complement remote operation adoption across mine sites and plants by including additional data analytics and visualization for the next level of optimization. Secondly, with the integration of the mining process across the value chain, real time data from downstream process to upstream process can provide an opportunity for high impact improvement in integration. IOT further enhances this because of the integration which can lead to game-changing activities like real time data based mine plan optimization.
With these advantages, come the challenges which companies will face going ahead - managing the huge data, understanding and modelling the data pattern and providing the interactive visualization on devices of end user choice. Therefore it becomes necessary for organizations to conduct cost-benefit analyses before implementations on any particular case.
As we go forward, IOT must become central to mining companies to unleash the potential of process optimization across the value chain. Organizations can look at off-the-shelf products rather than customized solutions for cost savings but the important thing is the realization that even a small step towards this direction can change the future of an organization.