Mining Automation and Connected Mines

We’ve been blasted recently by articles touting autonomous cars, connected vehicles and the Internet of Things. However, we’re still not really encountering many of these IoT connected vehicles cruising around us in our daily lives. However, connected vehicles and autonomous machines are already a reality in large mines that are a step ahead in automating their operations than cities and the automotive industry. Wireless mining automation is already being widely used. Most wireless mining automation involves connected trucks that communicate with each other’s data in real time through a wireless mesh network along with autonomous connected machines that coordinate their operations with each other to improve their efficiency and effectiveness.

Connected Mines

Connected Mines

As Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter reported in recent article on the Internet of Things, the mining industry is already leveraging at full speed the Internet of Things in wireless mining automation and connected mines projects, with the goal of cost saving and speeding up operations. The significant drop in the price of many commodities is forcing leading mining companies such as Rio Tinto, Glencore Xtrata, BHP Billiton, Vale, Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold, Fortescue Metals Group and China Shenhua Energy to invest in mining automation technology to reduce costs and increase profitability. At the same time, mining equipment vendors and mining machines manufacturers, such as Joy Global, Caterpillar and Komatsu are also investing in connected machines in order to improve efficiency and reliability in conjunction with their clients. Although it is not considered the most glamorous industry by techies from the Silicon Valley, mines are way more connected that many other heavy industries. Mining automation and connected mines projects prove that the Internet of Things is already the reality and it is already providing tens of millions of dollar of savings to the industries that have seriously embraced it.

Connected vehicles are, at the same time, a dream for the automotive industry and a reality for large mines, their operating companies, and their machine and truck vendors. Mines have been experimenting with wireless mining automation and wireless vehicle-to-vehicle connectivity for more than five years. Wireless mesh networks are the most common technology used to connect mining trucks to each other in areas where there is neither cellular nor WiFi coverage. Therefore, mesh Ethernet radios are being mounted on the trucks for a self-healing wireless mesh network and each truck acts as a radio relay point, or repeater, for the other trucks further into the open pit mine.

Mining Automation Technology

Mining Automation Technology

For twenty years, researchers and academics have been speculating about usages of wireless mesh networks leveraging their self-forming capabilities. The need to becoming more efficient through vehicle-to-vehicle connectivity has pushed mines to mount wireless mesh radios on their trucks and create self healing vehicle-to-vehicle wireless networks while the automotive industry is still trying to understand where to go in terms of connected cars.

Fluidmesh experience with Internet of Things deployment to enable industrial automation and with wireless mesh networks in mobile set-ups provides our company with a strong competitive advantage in developing and deploying connected mining solution leveraging wireless mesh networks. We are currently working on several projects leveraging wireless mesh networks for truck-to-truck communication and we would be glad to support your need for wireless mining automation. Feel free to reach out to us if you’re interested in learning more about our wireless mining automation technologies and solutions.

Umberto Malesci

Fluidmesh Networks

CEO and Co-Founder

Twitter: @umbertomalesci @fluidmesh