The road to MINExpo: Staying one smart step ahead of adversity

Think fast!

Which company’s technology touches 75% of cars, 90% of aircraft, 85% of smartphones while helping to protect almost one billion people?

Need more clues?

Over half of the world’s oil, gas, and chemical products are delivered more efficiently thanks to this company’s technology. And more than half of the world’s geospatial imagery is collected, processed or used with its solutions.

Last chance!

Formula One’s Red Bull Racing depends on this company for the accuracy, precision and quality needed to compete on a racetrack where success or failure can be decided by thousandths of a second. In the U.S., NASCAR uses its metrology technology to help ensure rule book standards for race cars, including chassis verification.

Congratulations if you guessed “Hexagon”. Chances are, you work for Hexagon! If not, it’s possible you became aware of Hexagon during the pandemic.

In March 2020, soon after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, Hexagon turned its focus to helping governments, healthcare organizations and the public. The company assisted in numerous efforts to understand, monitor and respond to the crisis.

Hexagon’s computer-aided engineering simulation experts, MSC Software created simulations to help create guidelines on social distancing and protective coverings to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Widely shared by media worldwide, Hexagon’s MSC Software created simulations to help create guidelines on social distancing and protective coverings to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Hexagon’s Geospatial division took data compiled by public healthcare organizations and government departments to create data visualizations mapping the spread of COVID-19 using its Smart M.App technology. Cities like Almada, Portugal developed a customized mapping solution using the same technology to help its citizens identify where to find essential items.

First responders, healthcare departments and GIS professionals continue to assess the spread of the virus, visualize the scope of affected areas, plan coordination efforts, and improve responses using the HxGN Content Program’s aerial imagery library of the United States and Europe – provided free to government agencies and non-profit organizations managing the COVID-19 outbreak.

OAS allows operators to wear face masks while still being monitored for signs of fatigue and distraction – a particularly useful feature during the COVID-19 pandemic when mines are mandating drivers to wear face masks

For the mining industry, Hexagon machine learning ensured that the award-winning HxGN MineProtect Operator Alertness System Light Vehicle (OAS-LV) continued to identify signs of operator fatigue and distraction in drivers, even when the operator wore a mask – essential technology at a time when mines are mandating drivers wear face masks.

That’s not the only way Hexagon is helping mining customers to adapt.

Partnering with mines to deal with COVID-19

According to analysts, Deloitte, the trend towards mining companies providing value beyond compliance to communities and host governments, is “likely to accelerate, particularly as health care infrastructure in developing markets become strained”. In its recent report, “Understanding the Sector Impact of COVID-19 – Mining and Metals,” Deloitte goes on to highlight the effects of government-mandated shutdowns in markets like South Africa and Peru.

Hexagon’s Mining division has become intimately acquainted with those effects during the pandemic – from staff remaining on mine sites in Peru for several months, separated from families, to finding innovative ways to continue with product implementations on-site despite being thousands of miles away.

Project signoff at Tarkwa Mine in Ghana, where a major safety implementation was completed with minimal
delays despite the pandemic lockdown.

Take Tarkwa Mine in Ghana, for example. When the mine’s owners, Gold Fields decided early last year to protect its employees and equipment with Hexagon’s MineProtect solutions, a schedule was agreed upon for a significant installation and implementation project.

Enter COVID-19.

How to install the MineProtect Collision Avoidance System (CAS) in more than 220 vehicles at Tarkwa amid a pandemic lockdown preventing travel by Hexagon’s South Africa staff into Ghana? How to implement MineProtect’s  Operator Alertness SystemPersonal Alert and Tracking Radar to address fatigue and distraction events, personnel protection and proximity awareness?

Willingness to embrace change was key to the successful installation, said Andrew Crose, Vice President, Autonomous, Hexagon’s Mining division. Andrew’s team conducted the installation with minimal delays, using local partners and technology, such as remote body cameras, to ensure installation and training stayed on schedule.

“Tarkwa staff’s willingness to adapt to the limitations imposed by COVID-19 was hugely important,” said Crose. “The resourcefulness displayed by everyone involved was impressive. It ensured that we completed the project with minimal delays – almost to the original project dates!”

Executive Vice President and Head of Gold Fields West Africa, Alfred Baku, agreed: “We will continue to explore new and innovative ways to improve safety and ensure that our employees return home to their families safely every day,” Baku said.

Proactively planning for digital transformation

Mainstream media have speculated about COVID-19 accelerating the trend towards autonomy in mining. It’s an issue that highlights the importance of proactively planning for digital transformation while keeping the social impact of digital in mind.

Hexagon understands the importance of working with local communities when adding autonomy and other technology to a mine. Close and consistent communication, aligned processes and training are key, said Crose.

Jacob Moeketsi, Project Training Officer (Trysome Group) training Kathu-resident, DeNovo technician on how to connect, program and install the HxGN MineProtect Scope Screen.Jacob Moeketsi, Project Training Officer (Trysome Group) training Kathu-resident, DeNovo technician on how to connect, program and install the HxGN MineProtect Scope Screen.

“Many would draw the conclusion that there are trade-offs in providing support via the local community or via the technology developer,” writes Crose in the case study, Enabling the Local Community in an Autonomous Project.

The case study documents Anglo American’s safety journey at Kumba Iron Ore in South Africa’s Northern Cape. It examines the partnership developed between Hexagon and Anglo American, Trysome Auto Electrical Engineering and DeNovo Mining Resources to ensure meaningful local community engagement while deploying the leading safety system on the world’s largest haul trucks.

“Some might assume that local support would lack the skills and capabilities to provide a comprehensive service while support from the technology provider would cause jobs to be lost locally during an autonomous implementation,” writes Crose. “This case study challenges those assumptions.”

Peak performance for MINExpo

The road to MINExpo has been far from smooth. Originally scheduled for September 2020, the Olympics of mining shows is now planned for Sept. 13-15, 2021. Doubtless, COVID-19 remains an unpredictable adversary, but Hexagon relishes the opportunity presented by the event.

So, what can you expect to see?

True to the themes covered in this blog, continued convergence and integration will mean more autonomy and eventually fully autonomous solutions from Hexagon. That means one smart device ecosystem for the next generation of operator experience, enhancing operator awareness, improving reliability and addressing personal safety issues that cannot be solved by traditional independent approaches.

Autonomously connected ecosystems that improve reliability and address personal safety issues that cannot be solved by traditional independent approaches: expect to see much more at MINExpo 2021.

Customers can expect reduced complexity in ownership costs and smart data analytics to visualize data patterns above and below ground.

For drill and blast, it means a complete solution tailored to minimize ore loss and dilution by delivering accuracy and precision to every step of the process.

Hexagon’s cloud-based visualization and collaboration platform, HxDR will deliver on the promise of a digital twin for your mine, leveraging reality capture capabilities to push the bounds of what is possible from a dynamic terrain model.

The ability and agility in responding quickly to adversity are a testament to Hexagon’s global reach and the depth of its multi-faceted expertise. As the last 12 months have shown, when ingenuity is applied to resourcefulness, adversity can be managed and overcome.

It’s why we’re excited for MINExpo and the rest of 2021. We hope you are too! Watch for more blogs in our series, The Road to MINExpo.

Part 1 of Nick’s blog, The road to MINExpo-Harnessing the power of one, is here.

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