The COVID-19 pandemic has faced the mining sector with profound uncertainty. To improve operational resilience and hasten economic recovery, mining companies can use artificial intelligence and smart sensing technologies to optimize production and improve efficiency. History suggests that the biggest rewards will accrue to early movers; a McKinsey analysis of the Great Recession found that the top performing companies moved quickly and decisively to gain an advantage over competitors, and that that gap both persisted and widened over the following decade. The companies that use these trying circumstances to make their mines smarter will recover faster and lead the industry in the future.
A poll of mining companies conducted by Verdict found that 64% of respondents were likely to increase their technology spend due to COVID-19. What technologies should mines invest in to hasten their recovery? A report from the World Economic Forum found that smart sensors will generate $34 billion of value for the mining industry, primarily by reducing equipment downtime, facilitating predictive maintenance, and improving safety for mine personnel. This key insight has long given Motion Metrics customers an edge over the competition; our missing tooth detection products for shovels and loaders pay for themselves with a single detection. One of our customer mines in Chile, for example, prevented a $1.25 million production loss over the course of a year with our missing tooth detection system for loaders.
Accelerating the transition to digital will also help mines improve the efficiency of their size reduction processes. Comminution accounts for more than 50% of the energy consumed on site, so optimizing particle size at each stage in the size reduction process can increase throughput by up to 30%. As experts in particle size analysis with a vision to improve energy efficiency, Motion Metrics offers smart sensing- and artificial intelligence-based solutions for shovels, haul trucks, conveyor belts, and in a portable format. Technologies like these that support mine-to-mill optimization will play a critical role in speeding up the economic recovery process.
With movement restrictions imposed by the pandemic limiting tradeshows and conferences, mining companies need new online spaces to learn about transformative technologies. One platform that can help mines identify the right technologies for their needs is Oren, a global B2B digital mining services marketplace. Co-developed by Shell and IBM, Oren is a centralized platform where senior decision makers can find solutions related to safety, sustainability, and operational efficiency.
Its creators aim to accelerate the digitalization of the mining industry and build greater operational resiliency in a rapidly changing world. “We envision Oren being the one-stop digital destination for the mining sector to access the best digital solutions and technologies, not just from Shell and IBM, but also from leading and emerging companies,” says Carol Chen, VP Global Marketing Lubricants Shell. “Being able to find and access a wide range of solutions digitally is even more important given the movement constraints faced as countries respond to COVID-19.”
Oren recently hosted a webinar explaining how artificial intelligence and smart sensing technologies have and will continue to influence the mining sector. Co-hosted by Dr. Ben Amaba, CTO Industrial Sector – Data and AI at IBM and Dan Jeavons, General Manager of Data Science at Shell, this webinar uncovered three approaches to unlocking step-change operational improvements with artificial intelligence and smart sensors. The webinar also profiled three innovative leaders in the mining technology space, including our CEO and Founder Dr. Shahram Tafazoli. If you missed the webinar, be sure to view Shahram’s segment here.