The mining industry has witnessed remarkable changes over the years, and the biggest of them is how big data is leading to big changes.
Mining is now being transformed into a customer-centric industry ruled by remote sensors and driven by data. Computer-controlled systems are generating massive amounts of data that is being collected by networks and routed to data centers where it is stored and processed. Sensors constantly monitor the wear and tear of machines and fluid levels resulting in better asset management and maintenance, which translates to millions of dollars in savings. The data that reaches the data center is analyzed to enable business leaders to make better business decisions, and companies are slowly but surely moving towards the machine-to-machine (M2M) model.
The era of customizing mining operations to deliver what the customers want is not too far away. Mines can focus on delivering the material that will provide the highest ROI by implementing actionable insights, and in this way, the mining industry can move away from stocking unnecessary material that would result in wastage or losses.
The mining industry has always experienced problems with resource crunch since mines are often situated in remote or deserted locations. Deploying technology is one way of addressing this issue. Remote controlled, fully automated trucks replace human resources and offer a solution to the dearth of skilled personnel that can be employed.
Technology has also touched another very important area of concern in the mining industry — workers’ safety. It is no secret that mining is a risky business. But, it is heartening to note that mine accidents are less common now - both in frequency and severity, thanks to safety programs born out of research and technology.
Underground vehicles that are remotely operated, sensor networks, autonomous trucks, glasses that predict micro-sleeps, mobile apps, and touch-screen information kiosks are all reducing the risk of injury for miners. Taking full advantage of advances in mobile technology, the mining industry uses apps to disseminate company information and safety messages, which in conjunction with safety dashboards go a long way towards making the working environment for miners a safer bet.
The importance of preventing such disasters remains a top priority and it is only through constant vigilance and effective use of available resources that the government, labor, and management can ensure a safe working environment for miners.
We are at that juncture when technology, big data, and mining are intersecting to bring in dramatic changes in the way the mining industry functions.