The world around us is changing at a rapid pace and it is a matter of innovating or perishing when it comes to finding continued success in business.
This is particularly evident with rapidly shrinking margins for error in ensuring staff safety (particularly with changes to workplace health and safety laws coming into effect) and increased expectations to find efficiencies and extend profit margins – all while becoming leaner and greener, of course.
Technological advancement is the key when it comes to making this impossible task possible – and Western Australia is more than pulling its weight when it comes to leading the charge.
Automated vehicles, smart sensors, drones, and renewable energy just scratch the surface of the innovations emerging in this fast-changing environment.
In this article we explore the latest tech trends emerging in mining for 2022.
The use of drone technology is quickly expanding, with numerous applications to improve visibility, efficiency, and safety.
Drones can be particularly useful for collecting visual references of geographical terrain, as well as capturing aerial data from drill and blast sites reducing the risk of exposing personnel to workplace hazards.
Additionally, drones are particularly useful for surveying and mapping mineral landscapes. What is traditionally an arduous and time-consuming task can be completed through the deployment of a drone and pilot, collecting extensive aerial data and fine measurements via orthoimages.
Some companies are also using drone technology as gas detection systems, replacing wearable or ventilation system sensors. These fully autonomous drones can be equipped with sensors and navigate narrow and hard-to-reach areas to detect and localise hazardous gasses without putting people in danger.
Artificial Intelligence and automation
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is revolutionising a variety of industries and mining is no exception. The inclusion of artificial intelligence, though still emerging, enables mining companies to improve efficiencies and productivity.
By investing in AI and machine learning, organisations are obtaining unprecedented insights into how personnel, equipment, and environments function, often identifying opportunities to evolve and transform operational systems and methods.
Rio Tinto, one of the leading global mining groups is operating the largest autonomous drilling fleet in the world. With over 26 autonomous drills, operators can safely plan and execute drilling and blast-hole activities out of their Perth-based operations centre over 1,500 kilometres away. This has provided a significant safety advantage, reducing the need to expose personnel to workplace risks and hazards.
Additional technological solutions in the industry are vastly improving data collation methods and reducing workflow errors. Automated instrumentation and sophisticated scan technology are being used to enhance the analysis of core samples and geophysical data in real-time. This has led to higher accuracy, improved efficiencies, and faster decision-making processes.
Addressing climate change is an issue firmly on the agenda, with the Australian public increasing pressure on our governments and businesses to do their part in meeting Net-Zero targets.
Traditionally, diesel is the primary energy source for vehicles, mining machinery, and turbines on sites, resulting in considerable carbon emissions.
You would be hard pressed to find a manufacturer who is not investing in greener product lines, as the demand for electric-powered vehicles and equipment increases to replace petroleum diesel counterparts.
In 2021, BHP, Rio Tinto, and Vale sought to fast-track commercialising effective solutions for charging large haul trucks, by launching the Charge On Innovation Challenge with 350 companies across 19 industries pledging their interest, the challenge effectively highlighted the emerging market for heavy-duty electric solutions. One year on, eight winning solution concepts have been selected to reap the rewards of reducing emissions while enhancing mining productivity.
GeoMoby’s cutting-edge communication and location technology solutions
State-of-the-art location and communication technology is allowing visibility across operations – both above and below ground – like never before.
Based in Perth, innovation company GeoMoby has developed a unique technological solution to address health and safety issues in the construction and mining industries, systematically improving the way assets, worksite hazards, and incidents are tracked, located and people’s safety monitored.
A world-first, the GeoMoby underground location and communication network is cable-free, using BLE 5 technology and unpowered nodes to generate live data to enable visibility, geofencing and complementary communication inside mines.
The GeoMoby On-Surface location technology provides the same capabilities across complex environments, including multi-story buildings and remote areas.
The overall solution, named Geo Platform, provides four key features;
- The creation of geofences: established to highlight or identify hazardous areas, alerting personnel in real-time if they move within a certain proximity of the area and allowing management to track assets near these locations.
- Welfare check capability: At the push of a button a welfare check can be performed to proactively assess the health status of individuals, working to improve and reinforce workplace safety and compliance.
- Contact Tracing: With the continued impact of COVID-19 on workplace operations, the technology enables organisations to contact trace their personnel and reliably identify individuals who have been exposed or are at a high risk of contamination.
- Automation and machine learning: The Geo platform includes unique firmware and software features that improves the way site operations can communicate, notify and trace worksite assets.
Most impressive of all, the Geo Platform is 20 times more precise than current industry solutions, with the live tracking technology accurate within five metres, even underground.
Worldwide patented and feature-rich, this cloud solution is changing the way businesses make decisions and safeguard the health and safety of their employees.
Speak to the GeoMoby team today for guidance on how our location technologies can make a difference for your business and the safety of your workforce.