Ensuring Success in Mining Automation Projects

Ever since we invented machines, we have also found ways to automate many tasks that used to be done manually. There’s almost a machine or piece of equipment that either does the work entirely for us or at least is an extension of our hands. From kitchen duties to garden chores, there’s a piece of man’s ingenuity doing the work for us so we don’t break up a sweat for certain tasks (although we need to sweat it out every now and then).

The key word here is automation. Heard of the term ‘automaton’? It’s a mechanism that can move automatically, which means it needs no human intervention for it to move (well, at least it has to be kick-started by a human being, e.g. music box). Automation has been used in industrial applications like car assembly and even large-scale food production.

Mining has also made use of this process. Many mining companies are now engaged in automated and robotic technology. Mining conferences address the challenges that certain companies face and how to overcome them. You’ll find below the top tips in ensuring success in a mining automation project as collated from presenters at a recent mining conference.

Tip 1: Build a holistic approach to ICT (Information and Communications Technology) delivery.

Tip 2: Support collaborative, data-informed decision-making.

Tip 3: Limit the number of models and configurations for your communications infrastructure network.

Tip 4: Establish desired outcomes early, then always measure against those outcomes.

Tip 5: If you’re adding in automation to operations, you’re adding in equipment that will break down. So, make allowance for this in your maintenance capacity and scheduling. Added to this, have your team conduct repairs as they go on shift so you lessen the risk of failure (i.e. carry over preventative maintenance measures to your automated equipment as well).

Tip 6: With greenfield projects or expansions, ensure your mine design is driven by automation plans and ensure both the IT and OT can support the design.

Tip 7: Balance considerations of functionality vs. cost with vendor selection and understand what you will require from the product through the LOM.

If your mining company plans to use or is already using automation in your operations, be sure to follow the tips mentioned here to overcome challenges and ensure success in it right from the get-go. It’s your way of maximizing the full potential of automation sans the drawbacks.

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