Schneider Electric urges the need for digital transformation in mining
Maryam FaragIndustry Mining & Resources digital transformation Industry 4.0 maintenance mining tehcnology
According to Schneider Electric Canada Inc., in mining, where adoption of Industry 4.0 traditionally has lagged behind other industries, restrictions imposed by the pandemic served as “a wake-up call to automate and get connected.”
With much of the workforce having to work from home, mining companies were forced to evaluate their processes and technologies to embrace industrial transformation to drive agility and operational efficiencies.
“No amount of connectivity can entirely remove humans from mining operations, but companies discovered that many tasks that can be performed remotely. This realization isn’t exclusive to mining; 63 per cent of C-suite and technology leaders said in a recent survey that COVID-19 accelerated their digital transformation efforts. And 49 per cent said digital transformation became a priority only after the pandemic started.”
According to Schneider, in mining, the acceleration of digitization has manifested itself in various ways, primarily industrial automation and the implementation of remotely managed data-driven systems designed to improve day-to-day operations and lay the groundwork for predictive maintenance. Remote connectivity has various applications in mining, from tracking assets and workers to equipment monitoring to troubleshooting. With troubleshooting, technicians on site can connect remotely to engineers who walk them through the steps to fix or restart a piece of equipment.
Mining operations are replacing coaxial cables with Ethernet connections and converting from older communications protocols such as Modbus RTU to Ethernet Modbus/TCP. The newer protocol supports the convergence of IT and operational technology (OT), and enables remote management and easier access to data. As such, network updates are key to the implementation of data capture and analytics systems that enable real-time monitoring and predictive maintenance.
To support IT/OT convergence and connected operations, the mining industry is deploying Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and edge computing networks. IIoT networks transmit data captured from on-site sensors and edge networks, which make it possible to process and analyze the data in real time by keeping it as close to sources and users as possible.