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Unlocking value in mining through a successful IoT strategy

The need to uphold revenues and reduce costs has become even more essential in an increasingly competitive environment. As the global economy becomes ever more complex and orebodies become more inaccessible, a more sophisticated approach to productivity optimisation is needed.

Traditional performance interventions are transient due to geographical dislocation of skills and data. Using an Internet of Things (IoT) approach gives miners an opportunity to substantially improve performance without adding significant capital. The IoT has been heralded as the primary conduit to improve operational efficiency in manufacturing and the same could be said for mining. But in today’s environment, companies can also benefit greatly by seeing it as a path for finding value from unexpected quarters.

In the future, successful mining companies will use the IoT to capture new growth through three approaches: boost revenues by increasing production, using intelligent technologies to fuel innovation and transforming their workforces.

The promise of IoT is that by connecting machines through communication networks and allowing them to quickly process data and share insights will enable intelligent systems to optimise processes and economic outcomes.

However, machines alone cannot revolutionise the mining industry. Our industry is centred around people that apply specialised knowledge and experienced thinking to transform data into insight. For the mining industry, an essential component of a successful IoT strategy is the role that people play in building the algorithms that create insight; as well as carrying out the actions to implement new knowledge.

The automation trend in mining is maturing. Well-understood and repeatable tasks are increasingly automated which is a boon for productivity improvement through the removal of variability. However, leaps in productivity are made when insights are harnessed and used to improve the outcome of complex processes. These insights arrive from people’s experience and skill being applied to data. The role that people have in transforming productivity is inescapable. A successful IoT strategy blends expertise, experience and technology in a way that generates actionable insights for teams of people on operating sites, allowing them to make informed and timely decisions in order to improve productivity and, ultimately, profit.

George McCullough
Director of Strategy, Interlate