How digital helps mines cut costs, not corners

The global pandemic has forced more mines to adopt technology to cut costs and increase efficiency. One example is Hexagon’s Asset Health platform, which monitors equipment-health trends in real time to help cut the costs of maintenance and increase productivity.

In the latest episode of our Mining Matters podcast series, Division CTO Rob Daw, and MineOperate product manager George Mavros discuss technology adoption and the benefits of Asset Health.

Q: So, Rob, how have you seen the pandemic fuel adoption of technology in the industry, and what technologies are seeing the highest demand?

RD:  It’s been interesting seeing how different companies are handling the pandemic and what sort of technologies they want to adopt. We’re seeing a lot of focus on remote-working enablement, so being able to have the information at their fingertips wherever they are in the world so that people can work from home or work from more-remote locations. And that’s true from everything from fleet management to mine planning through to even the safety side of things as well.

From Hexagon’s point of view, though, clients are now moving more and more to looking for an ecosystem of technology versus the point solution that we’ve traditionally seen out there. So how do we have that sensor information captured out in the field, and how do we actually, then, start to make sense of that information? And I think, to be honest with you, Asset Health that we’re discussing today is a really prime example of that type of setup.

Q:  So, let’s talk about Asset Health. George, tell us a little bit about Asset Health and how it improves equipment availability and what impact on cost reduction and profit increase can users expect from it.

GM:  At a mine, everything functions in a chain, right? Everything is linked. So, starting with planning, they will provide short-term or long-term planning. They will give targets to operations to execute this plan. And then operations look to maintenance to have the equipment available so they can accomplish the mine’s goals.

Not everything goes as planned. You will have events that will down equipment. And that is not just an additional cost on repairs, but you will also need to take into consideration the effect this takes on production. So, again, this is where Asset Health is beneficial. So, it’s real-time information on sensors and alarms. Maintenance and the operators get all this information so they can prevent a catastrophic failure before it happens. So, this way, we keep the equipment running longer and stay in production, so that way we can accomplish the goals and the target set, but also avoid additional costs on repairs and maintenance.

Q:  I understand Asset Health has just had a version update or is about to have a version update. George, tell us about the new functionality that’s in Asset Health 1.3.

GM:  We’re quite excited about this version of Asset Health 1.3. We are introducing some innovative features in this release. Asset Health is now fully integrated with our fleet-management solution, OP Pro. We can notify the operator and the controller that is utilizing OP Pro Manager, the office, for an alarm. So, they get this notification. We are also introducing another 20 new interface integrations.

Q: Rob, how do you see Asset Health changing the way mines utilize their equipment?

RD:  Equipment is probably one of the most high-capital costs within the mining environment. So, anything we can do to extend the lifetime of that piece of equipment is going to have a big impact to our bottom line and operations. And then if we start to look at how we actually utilize the equipment and the downtime that we have with the scheduled maintenance that we put into the mines as well, there’s obviously a big impact on being able to utilize that piece of equipment.

By introducing technology like Asset Health, it’s really giving us the insights and more predictability into that meantime before failure. So how can we extend that duration between when we do need to service these vehicles? Do we need to bring them in every 1,000 hour or 5,000-hour for that service, or can we push them a little bit further? And the only way we can do that is by analyzing and understanding the information that we have available to us.

It’s one of those adages that you don’t know what you don’t know. And so, I think Asset Health really does assist us in being able to extend the periods between services and also eke out additional time. So, with our tires or our filters, can we get a longer period before we must replace those? Can we run it to near failure? I don’t want to say we’re going to run it to failure, but can we really extend the lifetime on those, which has a huge cost impact to the bottom line of operations. So, I think we’ll see mines pushing that further and further and leveraging the assets they’ve already got in a much, much more robust way.

To hear the full interview, click here.

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