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Hitachi Machine Data in Action: Open Pit Data Mining

HDSBLOG by HDSBLOG on Feb 19, 2013

Sara Gardner, Senior Director SW Product Marketing, Hitachi Data Systems in conversation with Martin Politick Director, Research and Development at Wenco International Mining Systems

Sara and Martin Conversation on Hitachi Machine Data in Action

The Internet of Things is the future of big data!

Millions of machines all connected to the Internet, collaborating, driving intelligent automation and delivering new insight that can have a dramatic impact on a company’s bottom line – that’s the promise of the Internet of Things.

The application opportunities are vast and Hitachi is right at the heart of the revolution.  We are  building innovative solutions for machine data with many of these scenarios going way beyond the traditional data center.  And it doesn’t get more rugged than the mining industry

No, “Open Pit Data Mining” is not a new exotic branch of analytics. It’s about using machine data to drive new efficiencies in the mining industry. I recently chatted with Martin Politick, Director of R&D at Wenco International Mining Systems Limited to dig deeper.

Getting More Out of Your Mine with Wenco

Wenco International Mining Systems Ltd is a subsidiary of Hitachi Construction Machinery. Hitachi Construction Machinery makes mining Hitachi Construction Machineryequipment. Think really big machines – mining excavators, hydraulic shovels, backhoes and dump trucks.

Wenco delivers GPS-based open pit mining information technology including solutions for fleet control and management, mine visualization, equipment tracking and maintenance. Martin shared with me a couple of the innovative ways they are using sensor data and analytics to transform open pit mining.

Optimizing Mining Operation

Open pit mining requires complex coordination and management of typically hundreds of pieces of heavy equipment including trucks to move and dispatch ore, drilling machines, and processing and dumping equipment. This is a high stakes game and there are many variables involved to ensure the mine equipment and human resources are operating at maximum efficiency and safety. For example, what are the best routes between loading and dumping stations? How are those routes impacted by traffic congestion? What are the utilization rates of the crushers and shovels?

Wenco is leveraging GPS-based sensors to track location and utilization of the mining equipment and fleet. The sensor data is rolled up into daily monitoring reports and leveraged by optimization applications that utilize complex analytics and algorithms to guide machine operators to optimal routes and stations.

Unearthing Significant Operational Savings and Production Gains

I asked Martin just how much impact a mine can expect to see from utilizing technology like this and the answer is ‘huge’ – both in cost savings and overall production and therefore revenue gains. He shared with me the example of the Assarel Medet copper mine which not only realized significant savings in excavation, transportation and crushing operational costs but managed to increase the amount of mined material by 16% to reach an all-time high.

On Demand Maintenance

Wenco is also leveraging sensor data for more proactive, preventative maintenance of equipment. Machine failure is expensive. Timely maintenance can mean the difference between minor downtime and hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost production and equipment replacement. Wenco is working with Hitachi to stream real-time machine health data and metrics to the cloud for fast interception of potential problems before they result in costly failures. For example, a sticking valve and an exhaust temperature drop could be an early signal of pending engine failure.

Each individual sensor has the potential to stream back GBs of data so data volumes quickly mount up. Data scientists at Hitachi have developed algorithms to effectively mine (no pun intended!) this data by capturing and comparing patterns in the data that will enable intelligent prediction of machine failures before they happen. This analysis will also enable automatic cause of action directives to be sent back live to the mining operators. They are piloting this solution on big excavation equipment today.

The Future – automated mining

Operation optimization and preventative maintenance are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the potential applications of machine data in Wenco International Mining Systemsthe mining industry. Mining sites are often located in geographically remote locations. It is often challenging to get enough trained operators and many of the operations are inherently dangerous. The cost to build a suitable infrastructure is quite high. With the work already done in sensor-based monitoring and guidance Wenco is building the foundation for more automation in mining operations for the future.

The Internet of Things is the future of Big Data!

The Internet of Things takes data capture out of the data center and down to the front line. Mining is just one of many examples of how machine data can transform industries and I look forward to sharing other examples of how Hitachi and customers are innovating with information in the coming months.

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[...] post entitled Hitachi Machine Data in Action: Open Pit Data Mining by Sara Gardner highlights how Hitachi is putting Big Data to work in support of open pit data [...]

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