Two Opportunities for Improvement: One Solution
Opportunity 1: Breaking Down Data Silos
Back in November of 2020 Pit & Quarry featured an excellent article by Kevin Vonesh- Why the future of quarry management is now. In it they recognized the need for increased connectivity between technological solutions in today's quarries to eliminate the information silos in today's operations and they identify the solution- an operations tracking tool to connect all the independent solutions available.
Data silos are a well known obstacle for the quarrying industry.
Ravi Sahu, CEO of Strayos, identified the exact same challenge in his October 26, 2020 interview with Mining Magazine's EMEA editor Craig Gutherie- AI's Explosive Impact on Drill and Blast. Ravi stated that one of the critical challenges facing the mining and quarrying industries today are the operations and data silos. He elaborated that business units often act independently of each other and that there's no free flow of information between them. This leads to lost opportunities and increased inefficiencies for upstream and downstream operations.
Too often mining and quarry companies look to optimize a particular silo and end up loosing site of the big picture. There are only so many solutions that can be implemented to optimize milling before you have to look beyond it at loading, blasting, drilling, and even geotech to see how the ore can be optimized before it even gets to the mill.
True optimization for mining and quarrying operations companies need to connect all the silos so that data can be analyzed along the entire operations chain.
Opportunity 2: Effective Data Presentation
There are mountains of data available to today's technologically savy mining and quarrying companies. There's data from drones, satellites, laser scanners, smart drills, Boretrak sensors, smart explosives loaders, smart trucks, fleet management systems, conveyor belt systems, and stockpile scanning systems, just to name a few.
All of these data solutions offer the alluring promise of "cost savings," "optimizing operations," "maximizing profit," and they all do- to an extent.
FMI's 2019 report "Big Data = Big Questions for the Engineering and Construction Industry" found that 95.5% of all data went unused and about 13% of the team's working hours are spent looking for the data they gathered. It's reasonable to assume those numbers hold roughly true to the mining and quarrying industry, if they aren't worse... (mining companies notoriously struggle with data implementation).
How can mines and quarries realize the promises made by all of these solutions if they aren't using the data provided effectively and are spending so much time looking for the data that was supposed to save them all that time?
One Solution- The Operations Dashboard Tool- Realizing the Promise
The answer is a centralized data dashboard that aggregates data from across the solutions for the various silos, is able to make connections between them, and presents the data and insights in a clear and effective manner.
A single source of truth that eliminates both the wasted time spent looking for data from each source and that breaks down the data silos to discover opportunities for improvement operations wide.
In order to accomplish both tasks as effectively as possible we will need to use AI powered algorithms to comb through the mountains of data available, identify the patterns in that data, and make predictions based on them.
AI is able to complete millions of calculations in seconds, it can automate much of the drudgery of data entry and transfers, it can identify patterns in data sets with dozens or hundreds of variables, and it can do it all nearly instantly. AI can track the effects of a single data point through the entire operations chain- like a minute soft seam from measure while drilling data and see how it affects drilling performance, then blast design, then fragmentation, then diggability, then muckpile shape, then loading, then hauling, then crushing, on and on down the chain. A single soft seam could have massive repurcussions from loading design all the way to mill performance and ultimately the profit margins on your stockpile.
AI can track the data and find patterns- at a level humans can't. But it can't identify, for example- the real cost per drill hole, without knowing the data from the drone flight that mapped the bench or the stockpile measurements for storage cost and current market value for each product (if it has all that data- it can).
SO combine the integration, automation, and power of AI in a single dashboard that any approved user can log into from anywhere and then see the real effects of operations at a site level. See how the different silos effect each other and proactively take control of the true potential of a site.
The Ultimate Multi Tool
"A quarry production-monitoring system enables information in real time to highlight an opportunity that could minimize lost production time or reduced performance. It’s an opportunity to look through a different set of lenses – in essence, a window into operations at any given moment, along with the historical data to drive actionable decisions." Kevin Vonesh
A cross functional AI powered dashboard enables people to gain specific insights- like how a specific site geology may effect blast vibration intensity at a particular location- like the nearest house. Or macro level insights like how that same geology will effect fragmentation and thus energy use for additional crushing.
"It can link the costs from drill hole to mineral processing operations. Only AI can comb through this data at so many different levels and identify the inefficiencies." Ravi Sahu
Imagine, being able to fly a drone, map the bench and from the AI's analysis of the rock mass characteristics and your desired product, you already know what your drill plan and explosives loading should be, alerts that balance the need for best fragmentation with vibration compliance, muckpile predictions that determine what type of machine you will need for loading, your cycle time, the amount of additional processing that will be necessary, and then all that needs to be done is measure from time to time to verify. This may sound far fetched, but its closer than you think.
"Many sites already have the hardware infrastructure in place – it just needs to be connected to an intelligent reporting system." Kevin Vonesh
"Mine to Mill" solutions are already being offered and "The Mine of the Future" is already here." Ravi Sahu
Check out our 2 Free E-books on AI applications for the drilling, blasting, and mining industries to see all the amazing advances that are available.
AI Guide for Drilling and Blasting
AI Guide for Mining
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