Mining is not a single process but a sequence of processes managed across the supply chain, from geology studies to commodity shipment. The efficiency of mining production can be improved by enhancing the interaction of its different processes by employing a Business Platform that bridges the gap between Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technologies. Ultimately, the merging of these worlds will provide management with higher confidence in operational performance as critical decisions are made using real-time data.
The existing methods of creating a holistic view of a mining operation usually result in a view of what happened too far in the past to be of real value in the present. Too often this view is constructed at too infrequent intervals. Often, late updating of this view occurs because of the time involved to gather data, compile it, and the limitations of the systems used to do so (spreadsheets, for example). As an example, blasting at a mine site may continue to occur even after a new survey has concluded that what was thought to be high grade area is not.
Ultimately, the root of the problem is that IT and OT systems do not provide the data required by decision-makers. To do so, an enabling platform must be employed that collects data from across the operation, delivering it where and when it is needed, in the right context for different mining roles.
Industrial Internet technologies have already provided benefits in the manufacturing industry (applied through what is widely called “Industry 4.0”). These systems have delivered automated consolidation of data to enable near real-time management.
Industry 4.0 is the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. Industry 4.0 creates what has been called a “smart factory”. Within the modular structured smart factories, cyber-physical systems monitor physical processes, create a virtual copy of the physical world and make decentralized decisions. Over the Industrial Internet of Things in mining, cyber-physical systems communicate and cooperate with each other and with humans in real time; both internal and cross-organizational services are offered and used by participants of the value chain.
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