Health & Safety Industry 4.0 applications in mining: Part 1
It’s not possible for a human to list every possible scenario and potential type of harm that may arise whilst mining.
Accidents can occur at any point in time, from falling off an office chair, resting arms outside of moving vehicles to the improper handling of explosives. Whilst there may be a novel (or old) technology that can solve these individual aspects, such as new carriages to carry workers, the electrification of plant, etc.; when talking about Industry 4.0 technology, what we’re really trying to do is provide new ways to analyze risk holistically (using machine learning) and then improve functions to achieve a strategic business objective (not a technology one) based on that analysis.
Therefore, to explore the application of Industry 4.0 technology in mining, it’s important to focus on operational areas where the application of sustainability solutions built on a Sustainability Performance Platform (SPP) can have significant impacts, rather than the analysis of a particular technology (such as the electrification of assets or driverless technologies).
Enhanced plant and equipment performance:
Time to failure & predictive maintenance. There are many things that go into the failure of machinery. Poor operation, different terrains, as well as the failure of individual parts. With real-time monitoring of machinery and the use of predictive algorithms that can utilize data from multiple sources, such as real-time temperature and vibration measurements coupled with forthcoming usage and operator schedules, it’s possible to predict when an asset is going to fail, why and what the remedy is. This not only makes it possible to predict when machinery needs to be serviced (versus when it’s scheduled to be, simply because it’s been 6 months since its last check), but also identifies what the fix is (reducing maintenance crews time in the field) and prevents the development of problems that could cause hazardous failures.
Real-time catastrophic failure prevention. Real-time monitoring of assets and plant using a sustainability solution, even with the use of predictive machine learning algorithms, need time and large data sets to be able to predict 100% accurately (it’s also a moot point as to whether this will ever be achieved). Therefore, using a solution built on a Sustainability Performance Platform (SPP), it’s possible to analyse the real-time data measures and implement fail-safe machinery shutdowns should a catastrophic failure be impending by understanding operational norms, the outcome of previous breaches of them and by being able to identify from real-time measures where recovery won’t be possible; directing machinery to shut down immediately via automated intervention.
Long-term performance pattern analysis. It’s possible to analyse data sets across fleets to identify and predict asset performance. As well as optimising output and improving uptime, high-level performance is a good indicator of safety. Additionally, through identifying patterns (such as how long it takes for an asset to start or whether it does better at a certain time of day), you can use these insights to further enhance safety by changing shift patterns and ensuring the correct personnel are on-site at the right time.
Real-time employee, environment, asset & operations monitoring:
Deliver proximity alerts + real-time Permit To Work. Many of the injuries and deaths that occur on mining sites are due to people being in the wrong place at the wrong time, doing something that they shouldn’t be doing (e.g. using a tool close to electric cabling), or through an unforeseen failure resulting in an action, such as inundation, gas explosion or rock fall. A sustainability solutions built on a Sustainability Performance Platform (SPP) enables you to, via the use of wearables and the real-time monitoring of environmental and mine conditions, aggregate data in real-time and identify when someone is going to come to harm, sending alerts and stopping machinery before an injury occurs.
Establish employee safety scores. Through the analysis of real-time data monitoring via wearables, comparing it with environmental measures and operational understanding, it’s possible to monitor employee performance based on the individual aspects of their role, such as how safe they’re being. This could help identify when, for example, an employee is tired or beginning to make small mistakes and could be about to come to harm or whether they’re consistently following required compliance norms at any given moment.
Enhanced safety walks + inspections. The real-time, remote monitoring of environmental and mine measures is a more accurate, safer way of conducting these critical safety procedures. However, taking this a step further, you can use machine learning to predict how these variables are affected by third party data (such as weather) or your operations, providing you with real-time analysis that identifies problems in the afternoon that weren’t there in the morning, or that can predict the development of risks.
Improved training. It’s possible to monitor the impact of workforce training initiatives, identify what does and doesn’t work, as well as spot individuals who need further support in particular areas of their role via comparing the performance of employees both before and after training via the use of real-time monitoring and the aggregation of data from other sources, such as productivity and output measures.
This blog is continued in part 2 here, where we explore what the holistic operational analysis use cases of sustainability solutions built on Industry 4.0 technology can achieve, the business objectives, as well as some of the added advantages that can come from the technology - do take a look now!
I4 Mining is a sustainability technology provider to the mining sector, offering ready-to-deploy ESG solutions that help miners to succeed both strategically and operationally without ever getting in the way of good business.
Our solutions enable you to easily develop strategies, deliver accurate sustainability metrics and reports in real-time, improve sustainability and business performance, as well as make predictive analytics and forecasts part of your everyday so that you can reduce risks and optimise from mine-to-market.
Speak to us today to book a demo and discover how you can get started on your digital sustainability journey.
Want to know about industrial AI + IoT more broadly?
If you'd like to find out more about the technology that underpins all of our digital mining solutions, other industrial uses of AI + IoT, or are eager to get into the detail of precisely what AI and IoT technology are then visit the Rayven blog.