Learn how to modernize all your mining operations processes through the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
Pierre is the director of a mining site in Quebec and Jeff works with him as an operations and maintenance supervisor. For some time, troop morale had been declining and some key players had left to take on new challenges. Pierre and Jeff have decided to take their first steps in the digital transformation of all their business processes. They have discovered that the new technologies of industry 4.0 allow them to eliminate many non-value-added tasks, improve health & safety and operational efficiency.
After a digital audit of their processes, they have identified and carried out three (3) first pilot projects that you will discover below. They now know how much they can improve production for their customer plant, the positive impacts on their operating costs, while gaining greater operational efficiency. As a bonus, these projects have brought optimism to the site and new peace of mind to the management team. This is their story :
Connected employees and finally free of paper !
On a mining site, there are many obligations to comply with in health and safety management, the environment, human resources management, and other monitoring of all kinds. Jeff had a variety of paper forms (over 25!) to complete or have completed (timesheet forms, health and safety forms, accident reports, incidents, etc.). Since the mine site was very large, Jeff could spend up to 25% of his time “printing-complete-transporting papers”. An administrative assistant, Sonia, then had to try to understand what was written or find missing information from the team in order to enter all the data into the company’s computer systems.
To eliminate the waste of everyone’s precious time, a first project consisted in dematerializing all paper forms into intelligent mobile forms. Jeff now has access to all the OHS, Environment, Quality/Operation forms he needs on his Kalliope industrial tablet or smartphone. Jeff enters all the required data using a drop-down list and adds relevant information using the dictaphone. It also includes photos, squetch, etc. All data is sent and integrated directly to the company’s IT systems where it is needed quickly. Sonia is responsible for improving mobile forms, creating new ones and updating the management team’s real-time dashboards.
Simplified environmental monitoring
One of Pierre’s very first projects was the monitoring of the mine’s treated wastewater. This problem caused many headaches for the team. During the summer season, the quality of the treated water was ensured by a conductivity meter, after the treatment system, which was connected to an alarm and a flashing light. This system was only used to manage alarms of uncontrolled situations. A problem could not be predicted, resulting in numerous emergency responses and the risk of an environmental infraction. With the right pH, problematic ion and conductivity sensors, it was possible to quickly set up a dashboard and two levels of alerts for each measurement, sent by SMS or email for Jeff or Pierre to analyze the situation and act upstream BEFORE a non-compliant situation.
Fixed machines or connected rolling equipment
Pierre and Jeff’s second project was to implement predictive maintenance of critical machinery and rolling stock at the mine site. The mine site has several pieces of equipment that, if they stop for more than 8 hours, compromise the delivery of ore to the customer plant. These machines and their essential operating parameters have been identified. With the help of an IIoT expert, the best industrial sensors were selected and properly installed to collect data from these machines (temperatures, vibration, oil quality, etc.). A first monitoring of the conditions of the machines has been set up. Pierre has set up a first level of alerts (SMS and/or Email) that notify Jeff and his team that a critical value has been reached. They can then take action quickly, BEFORE the machine breaks. Pierre’s first observation :
For more than 2 months now, the data history has been being built for our five critical equipment. Jeff and I discovered that before the IIoT in our lives, we didn’t know that we didn’t know ! We were going to emergency in an emergency without being able to catch our breath. We had no time for prevention or analysis.
Today, the team uses integrated dashboards for all machines on a daily basis, with the added bonus of mobile form data relevant to each machine. This mass of information forms a very interesting infonuagic database that provides them with real-time information on the proper functioning of operations. Jeff tracks and analyzes the data on his tablet and ensures that the machines remain in good condition. After analysis, Pierre refined the alarm levels according to the values established with the mechanics.
Predictive maintenance of machines and equipment
Then, thanks to the Andromedia Technologies machine learning module, a mathematical model is built, based on the data history of each machine. These models make it possible to estimate the number of useful days remaining before the next breakage. A good model reaches a 95% confidence interval and specifies which machine component is most at risk of causing a failure.
The predictive maintenance module notifies Jeff that a predictive maintenance requirement is required more than 90 days in advance, which is very practical in the case where suppliers are more than 1000 km away! Jeff prepares his work request and plans the materials and resources required for the work.
Pierre and Jeff’s next step: connect the predictive maintenance system with their plant computer-aided maintenance management system (CMMS). The maintenance request will be sent to the CMMS automatically by the machine system. All that remains for Pierre to do is to validate and approve the request. Jeff’s maintenance team will receive his work request and will be able to order the equipment and prepare in advance for the next planned outage.
After these first three pilot projects, Pierre and his team discovered that the return on investment of such projects in IIoT is really interesting: less than 6 months! Pierre talks about their experience :
With good advice and the support of experts on the choice and integration of technologies, our first steps in IIoT allowed us to collectively demystify what the technologies of the 4th industrial revolution have brought us in concrete terms. The digital transformation of our processes continues, step by step, driven by our first successes. I like the new good humour and enthusiasm that has returned to my team… What is good for the retention of my key players ;0) Mining work is getting sexier for the new generation of mining workers, thanks in part to the work environment and technology !
Here is a summary of the main improvements experienced by Pierre, Jeff and the team as well as ongoing and planned projects :
Real-time monitoring of health equipment, just-in-time maintenance request to our CMMS, reduction of emergency shutdown and maintenance costs. (in progress)
|Operations Management||With the Internet of industrial objects, optimization of operations and logistics with the customer factory (in progress).|
|Health and safety||Real-time monitoring of workers and equipment. Sending alerts when they travel in high-risk areas (2020 project)|
|Improvement of our equipment||Connect our suppliers of machinery and equipment to our alert and operation tables. They must monitor our equipment in real time and improve it according to our operating conditions. They must ensure that they have the required documents on hand (2020 project)|
|Consumables management||Based on our real-time operating data, our suppliers must monitor inventory levels and ensure just-in-time supply according to our needs|
Do you dream of managing your mining site operations like Pierre and Jeff ?
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