Digitization of mining: major challenges and motivations
By Orlando Ramírez.
44% of companies in the sector are looking to increase their investment in digitization in the coming years
In 2021 SPT (Stockholm Precision Tools) launched SmartCloud™ which allows the mining industry to synchronize its mining project data in the cloud
The importance of the mining industry is undeniable. Proof of this is that it supports approximately 45% of the world’s economic activities, making it a critical part of multiple production chains.
In fact, if we look at most of the technological devices we use in our daily lives, almost all of them need materials that come from a mine. It is an indisputable fact that we need mining to continue life as we know it today.
Data reflects the magnitude of this sector and support the above statement: according to Statista, $69 billion was invested in this industry in 2019.
In this context, it is hard to deny that even mining is immersed in a digital transformation process. However, although many of us will have heard of this concept, it is perhaps not clear what it means.
Well, digitalization is defined as the convergence of the real world with the virtual world. Applied to mining, this means transforming analog processes and physical objects into digital ones.
Digitization is so strong in the sector that 82% of the mining industry is willing to increase its investments in digital technology in the coming years.
But all this is not a novelty, it is a process that has been going on for years. Since 2010, 25% of mining companies have doubled their investments in technology and 93% are satisfied with the results. In fact, 90% of mining companies believe that complementing their operations with technology translates into added value and helps to revolutionize their business.
Digital transformation objectives
The process is gradual, so there is still a long way to go before mines are 100% digitized. However, there are major motivations for wanting to achieve this goal.
The first is to improve productivity and to optimize time and processes. This is reflected, for example, in the implementation of autonomous transport, which it is possible to operate 24 hours a day with greater safety. The digitization of the mining sector is helping to reduce the accident rate by more than 20%.
Furthermore, although one might think that this process requires large capital investments, the reality is that eventually it results in lower costs.
In energy consumption alone, savings of between 5 and 15% per year can be achieved with the technology. Similarly, logistics costs can be reduced by 5 to 10% and equipment availability can be increased by 2%.
Innovations in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) can save the industry an estimated $373 billion by 2025 by automating the operation of machinery, facilitating predictive maintenance, improving traceability, harnessing the power of real-time data and analytics, and providing visibility across the entire value chain from mine to market.
This process has challenges
Digitization is a challenge that must be accepted to adapt to the new market. However, there are certain factors that help or hinder this transformation.
First, there is the environmental issue. It is well known that there is a growing concern on the part of society and companies to be responsible and sustainable.
For this reason, mining is changing its processes towards greener and more sustainable ones. As a result, various technologies have been developed in this area, such as those used in water optimization, dust management, reduction of energy consumption or blasting processes. The aim is to achieve a greener and more sustainable mining industry.
Another major challenge is the profile of the new miner. Digitization implies a modernization and transformation of capital goods, but also of the personnel, who must modernize and adopt new skills in line with market changes.
This implies a transition towards a more modern and digital model of the profession, capable of attracting new talent to the sector and revitalizing it with new ways of thinking and understanding of the industry. A new type of employee with knowledge of automation, digitization and interoperability is also in demand.
At SPT we are committed to the digitization of processes
At SPT we are fully aware of the need for digitization in the sector, so the entire company is immersed in a process of transformation.
Thanks to the state-of-the-art technology in our tools, we not only guarantee the highest precision, but also maximize operator safety.
Proof of the importance we place on technology at SPT is that we pioneered the introduction of Bluetooth® in our tools more than a decade ago. This technology enables wireless communication between devices.
Similarly, in 2021 we launched one of our latest innovations: SPT SmartCloud™, which allows the management and storage of borehole trajectory measurement information from all of our tools. This offers the possibility for our customers to have at their disposal, in a quick and accessible way, all the data related to their drilling. It also allows validation of quality control data and instant export of QA/QC reports in the most used industry formats.
Stockholm Precision Tools is committed to the digitization of mining projects. We have seen first-hand how this investment in digital solutions has improved profitability, reduced accidents and helped minimize the environmental impact of our customers’ operations.
If you are interested in learning more about how we can help your company go digital, contact us today for a free on-site demonstration of our solutions.