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The WEF in 2016 predicted that, over the next decade, Digital Transformation in the mining industry has the potential to add $320 billion of additional value, reduce 600 million tons of CO2 emissions and save more than 1000 lives. While the various surveys of Mining executives indicate strong commitment to digitalization, significant actual progress is still to emerge.
The extractive industries, e.g., Mining, Oil & Gas, and Minerals, are characterized by high capital intensity, massive economies of scale, high cyclicality, depleting higher grade more easily accessible reserves and increasing worker and societal unrest. The Mining sector also has the lowest R&D rate of any industry by a factor of 10 and significant cultural resistance to change. This leaves the sector as the least digitized industry (Barrick 2017).
In spite of these challenges mining companies have started to adopt digitalization mostly in four major areas: Automation, robotics and operational hardware; Digitally enabled workforce; Integrated enterprise, platforms and ecosystems; and Next-generation analytics and decision support. However most of these initiatives have been in the largest of companies in the industry.
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Digital Transformation in Extractive Industries - CASE STUDIES
Boliden is one of the most successful mining companies in the world, with strong productivity and stock market performance. It has eight mines, and one of them, Aitik, located in the north of Sweden, is the largest open pit in Europe.
Aitik is an expanding mine. To get to the copper ore, lots of rock must be removed, and every year an increasing amount of rock is moved around in the system. Depending on where the ore is, the ratio of rock to ore varies; on average there is about 1 metric ton of rock removed for every 1 metric ton of ore.
Aitik's current annual production of 36 million metric tons of ore is to be increased to 45 million metric tons, and the rock removed will increase by just as much, if not more. However, given that a mine is a busy place, it is not a straightforward task to increase the number of huge machines required for rock removal, and maintaining the same equipment utilization only adds to the challenge. In addition, every blast creates toxic gases that need to dissipate before humans can enter the area and begin excavation.
Automated and remotely controlled machines provide a solution. Automated drill rigs (known as "Pit Vipers") can movefrom one drill hole to the next along a predefined path and perform repetitive tasks autonomously, in contrast to having a drill rig operator on site carrying them out manually. If the task or movement is not predefined, the drill rig is equipped with cameras that enable an operator to control it remotely. Much of the time autonomy is sufficient; however, sometimes only humans can make a proper assessment (for example, during evaluation of rock conditions), and remote or even local assessment is then required.
Five drill rigs at Aitik have been retrofitted with autonomous operation and remote-control features. As the current connection bandwidth only allows for medium-quality video streaming, which limits the remote-control capability, this retrofit is limited. A couple of cameras, a control system upgrade for the older rigs and a communication module have been added.
A 4G mobile communication system would offer a secure, flexible and future proof solution for Boliden. However, while 4G can support the current identified use case, only 5G can comfortably handle the most demanding requirements – bandwidth, quality of service, latency and positioning. While some applications only need to send minor amounts of data, others (such as fully remote controlled machines) need the capabilities and capacity offered through mobile communications such as 4G and especially 5G.
Automating a drill rig could increase operating hours from 5,000 to 7,000 hours per year, in effect enabling Boliden to perform the same amount of blast operations with these 5 modified rigs as they could with 7 or more traditional rigs. This automation also eliminates the need for additional staff, service stations, parking areas, transport on busy access roads and dangerous staff transportation within the mine. As well as solving these logistical challenges, automation carries significant efficiency benefits, as Boliden can handle an increased number of blasts with similar equipment and staffing levels.
Source: Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson
In one of the largest iron ore mining sites in Australia, operated by Rio Tinto, continuous mining machines which can be automated for more consistent production, were being operated manually more of the time, resulting in declining production and further exacerbating the decreases in production experienced due to the continuing mining supercycle at the time.
In order to address this issue, Australia-based Pulse Mining Systems which offers consulting, services and software for mining companies of all types, outfitted each continuous miner machine with more than 300 sensors that capture data from these machines and transmit data every second to a an enterprise resource planning (ERP) suite, designed by business intelligence (BI) software provider Birst specifically for the mining industry. Pulse also contributed advanced mining analytics applications that harness the power of the internet of things (IoT).
Working with the solution has increased the understanding of front line managers on how the people and equipment perform within the overall mining process and helped the mining client achieve a 3.2 percent increase in the operating rate and an increase from 2.5 million to 3 million per year in tonnes produced.
Birst and Pulse Mining hope to expand these data-driven capabilities to other areas of mining for their clients, from exploration and project development to full operation.
Source: Pulse Mining Systems, Taylor Short Software Advice
A Canadian oil sands operation ran a preventive maintenance strategy driven by days in service. Members of the maintenance team suspected that this approach, while straight forward to implement, was resulting in significant premature maintenance.
The Managers considered trying SmartRView, a site-wide analytics platform and dashboard that collects fuel data from on-board fuel meters and sensors on the fleet. The SmartRView platform also allows this data to be grouped and analyzed by type of equipment, pit location, or operator group. SmartRView was installed on haul trucks and dozers reporting on mining activity and fuel burn.
Results: Over a 2-month period, the standard deviation in daily fuel burn was 26% of the mean and the highest consuming day saw 3.5 times the fuel burned as the lowest. The variation in fuel burn across maintenance intervals was 24% illuminating a clear opportunity for cost savings. Fuel burn also dramatically outperformed engine hours which accumulate steadily regardless of the intensity of work.
This evidence strongly supported the economic justification of fuel-based maintenance scheduling.
- Michelin¹ is a global player in mobility and one of the leading tyre manufacturers across the globe.
- Michelin has 107,000 employees and achieved revenues of €21 billion for period ending TTM 6/15 and an EBITDA of €3.4 billion; margins have increased from 13.8% in 2011 to 16.6% TTM 6/15.
- EFFIFUEL™ by Michelin Solutions was the first innovation in the market targeting increased efficiency in fleet fuel consumption.
- Michelin Solutions makes a contractual agreement to meet pre-defined targets, or otherwise provides a refund in proportion to expenses incurred.
- EFFIFUEL™ is a comprehensive ecosystem that includes sophisticated telematics, training in eco-driving techniques and the EFFITIRES™ optimized tyre management system.
- EFFIFUEL™ provides a “satisfaction or your money back guarantee” by providing the fuel efficiency service risk-free to truckers.
- EFFIFUEL™ encourages careful handling of the truck equipment, leading to extra savings for companies and a potential doubling of pervehicle profits.
- A reduction in fuel consumption of 2.5 litres per 100km represents annual savings of €3,200 for long-haul transport (at least 2.1% reduction in total cost of ownership and 8 tonnes in CO2 emissions).
- Business model shift from selling tyre as a product to a service guaranteeing performance, has helped Michelin achieve higher customer satisfaction, increased loyalty and raised EBITDA margins.
- Michelin initiated the digital transformation internally, but they soon realized that in some critical areas, such as big data analytics or infrastructure they needed to partner with external experts.
- Cultural change was another prerequisite to successfully manage the digital transformation journey.
- The risk of changing the business model was mitigated since Michelin Solutions was created as a standalone entity and the company decided to test the solution by launching several pilots.
Sources: Michelin, WEF/Accenture Analysis
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