IT in Manufacturing


AI is key to driving automation in the mining industry

August 2023 IT in Manufacturing


Heinrich Jantzen, senior mining advisor, Zutari.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) stands to be a good enabler with the adoption of unmanned equipment and machinery in mining. The industry is already au fait with extracting smart data from sensors, which is the application of technology in terms of machine interconnections and boosting operational safety and efficiency. “It is a matter of how mining will take advantage of such developments in both the broader industry and individual mining operations themselves,” says Heinrich Jantzen, senior mining advisor at leading consulting engineering and infrastructure advisory firm Zutari. “The question is how you apply such advances within the mining space, as the industry strives to become a safer occupation and a more sustainable industry. I think the future is quite rosy in terms of AI.”

Zutari is developing specific mining expertise to assist clients to embrace Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things. “Integration is critical, and refers to finding common ground from logistics to process optimisation, and ultimately the engineering services provided,” says Jantzen. The current focus of unlocking value in mining by means of technology looks at how workers interface with machines themselves. Jantzen believes that digital transformation continues to drive this process across the entire industry. Mining is pushing the envelope in terms of the remote operation of heavy equipment. “The questions that need to be answered are how much can be done remotely, what is the capability to monitor such remote operations, and how to achieve the automation of fixed heavy assets. This is the ideal combination for mining in terms of what technology can achieve,” says Jantzen.

“Mines face a complex range of operational challenges that make everything quite risk averse. That is really when it boils down to technology driving the status quo. It is about the combination of all these factors and increasing the focus on collaborative adoption of technological solutions.” For example, sensors are critical to generating data and early warning of any risks, but it is AI that will ensure robust, reliable and actionable data.

Jantzen says the mining industry’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) goals are propelling it along a path towards carbon neutrality, with a range of commitments and initiatives already in place in this regard. However, AI can easily be deployed to reap lower hanging fruit. This presents the challenge of integrating AI successfully into such a scenario.

An example of how technology can enhance ESG is the ongoing development of collision avoidance systems, particularly for underground use. These have progressed from radio frequencies to using high-resolution laser light, which has the advantage of being able to address both indoor environments and machines. Technology must build capacity and reliability into mining, says Jantzen. If you cannot balance these aspects, it makes it extremely challenging. While a lot of advances in the mining space have been exponential to date, the result has been isolated pockets of excellence in a general sea of ongoing challenges.

“We really need to collaborate in the sense of standing shoulder to shoulder, so we can all learn together,” says Jantzen. Technology changes rapidly, meaning it is easy to fall behind. “We will always have challenges and make mistakes. There will always be risks associated with technology adoption, but we need to improve ourselves and become better. At the end of the day, doing all these things will attract more talent into the mining space,” he concludes.

For more information contact Malebusa Sebatane, Zutari, +27 12 427 2000, [email protected], www.zutari.com




Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Bringing brownfield plants back to life
Schneider Electric South Africa IT in Manufacturing
Today’s brownfield plants are typically characterised by outdated equipment and processes, and face challenges ranging from inefficient operations to safety hazards. However, all is not lost, as these plants stand to gain a lot from digitalisation and automation.

Read more...
The magnificent seven of industrial software development
Schneider Electric South Africa IT in Manufacturing
There’s fast paced, and there’s supersonic, and the latter certainly applies to the evolution of software or, more specifically, industrial software. The last year has seen the industrial software step to the fore to take over the mundane, repetitive and sometime dangerous, allowing us to focus once again on what makes us uniquely human.

Read more...
Transforming the electromechanical landscape
ACTOM Electrical Machines IT in Manufacturing
The electromechanical industry is fundamentally being transformed by Industry 4.0, which is ushering in an era of more efficient and innovative practices. Increasingly, companies are integrating automation and AI to optimise manufacturing processes, enhance productivity, and deliver better solutions to clients.

Read more...
Automated machine health monitoring
SKF South Africa IT in Manufacturing
Coupled with rapidly advancing technologies, the growing global population is propelling an ever-increasing demand for essentially anything that consumers require, from infrastructure to food. By switching from a manual to an automated machine monitoring system and data collection process, operators will increase the availability of their rotating equipment, and subsequently optimise their operations.

Read more...
Five emerging trends and advancements in process automation
IT in Manufacturing
Staying competitive requires companies to continually seek new ways to optimise their operations, reduce costs, and enhance productivity. In this article, we explore some emerging trends and advancements in process automation that are shaping the way businesses operate in the 21st century.

Read more...
Bringing brownfield plants back to life
Schneider Electric South Africa IT in Manufacturing
Today’s brownfield plants are typically characterised by outdated equipment and processes, and face challenges ranging from inefficient operations to safety hazards. However, all is not lost as these plants stand to gain a lot from digitalisation.

Read more...
Testing next-generation automotive e-drives
Siemens South Africa IT in Manufacturing
Emotors, an independent e-drive manufacturer, has taken advantage of test solutions from the Siemens Xcelerator portfolio of industry software to aid in the development and constant improvement of its e-drive systems for hybrids, plug-ins and full electric vehicles.

Read more...
Simplifying AI training
Beckhoff Automation IT in Manufacturing
The TwinCAT Machine Learning Creator from Beckhoff is aimed at automation and process experts and adds the automated creation of AI models to the TwinCAT 3 workflow.

Read more...
Exploring the role of AI in digitisation
IT in Manufacturing
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is providing companies with the advanced technology necessary to navigate their digitisation journeys more easily. But more than that, AI is transforming IT infrastructure, enhancing business operations, and reshaping job roles, all while decision makers stay cognisant of the ethical considerations. By understanding the opportunities and challenges presented by AI in digitisation, we can harness its power to help organisations move towards a more agile, intelligent, and competitive future.

Read more...
AI can speed up rollout of renewable energy solutions
IT in Manufacturing
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is taking over in every industry and sector, and has the potential to drive an efficiency and productivity revolution. In the renewable energy sector, AI modelling could assist with optimising power plant design, ensuring that various renewables sources are effectively integrated and load balanced, provide optimised and continuous monitoring, and much more.

Read more...