The mining industry is constantly in a state of flux. As various companies strive to find a way to marry ruthless efficiency with the safety of their workers, technology has developed to fill the gaps that people alone simply can’t. Here are just a few of the ways that technology is changing the face of mining as we know it.
Getting a decent signal for anything in a mine can be a challenge, but several companies like iVolve have stepped up in recent years, delivering high-performance wireless systems that allow the entire site to stay connected and share information instantaneously, while also storing, analysing, and presenting that data in an effective way.
Mining’s a dangerous gig and there are certain places even the most experienced miner won’t dare go. Automation is taking over in areas of the mining sector where it’s far too dangerous to send people. Driverless vehicles and machines operated remotely are becoming more and more common. As these robotic systems become less expensive to produce, the sector will start to see far more of them.
Safety is another area that has benefited greatly from emerging technologies. There are now handheld transmitters that combine GPS and short-range radar systems to determine whether a given area is safe for people to go into. They feed back reliable data to a central storage unit on-site where a map can be drawn of safe areas and danger zones. The company can then decide whether they want to send in automated machinery or not and no lives are ever put at risk.
Anyone who has ever worked on a mine site will tell you that things are always breaking down. The relentless pace the industry sets doesn’t always allow for their machines and vehicles to be properly maintained. Now, each vehicle can be outfitted with a computer system that feeds data back to a central hub. This hub monitors every vehicle for signs of wear or damage that might need addressing and alerts the maintenance team when something comes up. This keeps vehicles moving and minimises overall downtime.
All of the above points are connected by one commonality: efficiency. Mining companies have targets to achieve like any other business and, in order to hit their quotas, they need to have everything running as smoothly as possible, without interruption or the placing of results ahead of lives. The combination of these elements, among others, makes mining as an industry safer and more productive that it has ever been.
Technology evolves at such a rapid pace that within the next decade the face of many industries, including mining, will have changed again entirely. With safety and automation being two of the biggest factors, it’s possible to see where the industry is heading towards in the future, though it’s hard to guess what kind of exciting innovations will shake things up next in this field. Where do you think technology can take the industry from here? What would you like to see? Sound off in the comments below!