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Mining methods have been used to pull important minerals and ore from the ground since ancient times. For centuries these processes were labor-intensive and hazardous. But as new technologies based on big data are being developed, mining companies in the U.S. now have secure and precise ways of finding and removing materials from the earth.

Capturing and processing big data may be a relatively recent phenomenon in other industries, but in the U.S. mining sector it’s nothing new. Hitachi has been helping U.S. mining companies with sensor arrays that collect masses of data from trucks, excavators and other machinery for at least two decades, tagging everything from geographical positions to who’s driving, what they’re carrying and how much their cargo weighs.

“Many of the remote sensor monitoring scenarios that feature in modern IoT deployments have been in use in U.S. mining for a long time due to the very nature of mining in tough and remote environments,” says David Noble, VP Research and Development, Wenco International Mining Systems. “What’s new is the extent to which mines are monitored and the amount of data they collect. Mines are now taking advantage of heightened connectivity to collect and store very large amounts of disparate data.”

Delivering New Insights and Cost Savings Through Big Data

Wenco, which has three decades of experience in mining software, became part of Hitachi in 2009, in part to scale development of its leading-edge mining solutions. Hitachi brought to the partnership extensive experience with mining equipment, as well as with developing autonomous vehicles, running an advanced data sciences division and advancing a robust business intelligence platform.

Together, the partners are leveraging their world-leading research and development (R&D) capabilities to drive new insights, optimize mining operations and improve safety. While other companies focus solely on developing and manufacturing machinery, Hitachi and Wenco bring extensive resources and experience to innovations that are driving digital transformation, including the Avoca Intelligence Suite, ReadyLine health management system and Advanced Collision Avoidance system.

Collecting all the data from every mining system (fleet management, plant control, vehicle sensors, maintenance systems, so on) and blending the data for actionable insights can quickly answer critical questions, such as “Where are the production bottlenecks?” and “Are trucks loading efficiently and maximizing target loading levels over time?” The Avoca Intelligence Suite replaces traditional data siloes with a single business intelligence platform that provides this holistic view of operations. Combined with an open API and service capabilities, Avoca gives customers greater control and deeper insights into mining operations.

Through better tracking of equipment components, polling of health parameters (manually or based on time) and other measures, organizations can maximize equipment uptime and lower the cost of mine operations. The ReadyLine health management system makes it easy to monitor the most critical aspects of equipment health using real-time data. ReadyLine interacts with Hitachi or other systems and can work as a standalone tool or integrated as part of the Wenco mine fleet management system.

Hitachi and Wenco believe that advancements in mine safety systems are already saving lives and have the potential to save many more. With that in mind, Wenco developed the Advanced Collision Avoidance system, which combines high precision GPS, peer-to-peer technology, machine-to-machine direct radio communications, scenario-based time-to-collision algorithms and proximity sensing technologies. The solution makes it possible to view every vehicle in real-time on vehicle monitors.

To prevent collisions, drivers receive alerts – automated warning sounds – based on proximity detection and advanced algorithms that combine factors such as trajectories and rates of speed. Past problems with frequent false alarms have been overcome by using multiple data systems. As a result, operators are more likely to trust the alerts and take corrective action, making daily-operations safer and potentially saving lives.

Making a Real-World Difference for Mining Operations

The U.S. will continue to need resources, including precious metals, to support development of Social Innovation solutions such as sustainable solar, wind and tidal power generation. Bringing the power of IoT, AI, machine learning and data analytics to the mining industry can help bring the world closer to meeting critical global energy reduction targets while improving efficiency, reducing emissions and increasing the safety of mining operations.

Already, Hitachi and Wenco solutions are delivering results for mining customers. For instance, at the Red Dog mine in Alaska, Teck Resources implemented the Wenco Fleet Management system, which improved maintenance tracking, haul truck tonnage accuracy, loading location accuracy, loader efficiency, stockpile tonnes and grade prediction. It optimized equipment use and crew efficiency and resulted in nearly $2 million in savings in payload improvements alone.

KGHM’s Sierra Gorda mine in Chile implemented Wenco Fuel Dispatch, an automated dispatching service, to improve the efficiency of its fueling process. With the new system in place, per-session fill volumes immediately increased, enabling trucks to remain in operation longer between refueling. The wait times at fuel stations have been reduced by 10 percent, further shrinking unproductive time. The implementation of a single system has thus contributed to both increased production time and lower costs.

Optimizing Mining Operations for a More Sustainable Future

Since the very early days of mining, the stakes have been tremendously high. In the digital age, the stakes get even higher: Waste can mean higher carbon dioxide emissions that are bad for the planet, and lack of proper safety measures can mean the difference between life and death.

Fortunately, broad R&D resources and depth of expertise in the mining industry are helping Hitachi collaborate with partners and customers worldwide to co-create solutions that optimize operations and deliver a more sustainable future all.

Leveraging the latest IoT, AI, machine learning and data analytics solutions, Hitachi and Wenco can help U.S. enterprises – both small quarries or the world’s largest mining operations – develop a shared roadmap based on smart, scalable and interoperable digital transformation solutions.

For more information, visit www.wencomine.com

Modernizing mines through IoT and data analytics

When we think of mining we often do not take in the volumes of data created by trucks and shovels. Did you know that IoT and data analytics are an essential part of powering today's modern mines?

Backed by the power of Hitachi’s IoT core platform, Lumada, Wenco’s mine performance suite assists mine operators in making cost-effective changes that improve the overall operational efficiency of their operation.

Click here to see how you can transform your mine with Wenco System 6.