Pit & Quarry's Article "Why the future of quarry management is now" Is 100% Right.
Pit & Quarry featured an excellent article by Kevin Vonesh on November 24, 2020- Why the future of quarry management is now. This article discussed the need for increased connectivity between technological solutions in today's quarries. Kevin astutely nails the real issue- the information silos in today's operations, and identifies the solution- an operations tracking tool to connect all the independent solutions.
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 the critical challenge 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.
It is Ravi's belief that the answer to truly optimizing mining and quarrying operations lay in connecting all the silos so that data can be analyzed along the entire operations chain.
So Many Solutions
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.
Like Kevin says, 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.
How can mines and quarries realize the promises made by all of these solutions if they aren't using the data provided and are spending so much time looking for the data that was supposed to save them all that time?
Realizing the Promises- The Operations Dashboard Tool
The answer, as identified by Kevin and Ravi, is a centralized data dashboard that connects the various silos so that time isn't spent looking for data and so that the data from one silo can be connected to the data of other silos. Ravi took it another step, offering AI as a way of tracking the data along the entire process to identify trends from the data mountains, and tracking the effect of a single data point- say a discontinuity in the rock in the bench face, to see how it affects drilling, then blasting, then fragmentation, then diggability, then muckpile shape and machine selection, then loading, then hauling, then crushing, on and on down the chain.
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.
With this operational AI powered dashboard anyone can see the trends, verify that all stages of the process are living up to their potential, and no insights are wasted.
AI- 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 tool can allow people to gain specific insights- like how specific site geology may effect blast vibration intensity and distance 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 shot plan and explosives loading should be, 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 the stockpile at the end 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
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