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Digital solutions for the mining industry

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Real-time equipment health checks

“I always know exactly how my equipment is doing at any given time.” 

 

In the system-intensive mining sector, even maintenance measures require maximum efficiency. Our portfolio for Asset Health Analytics lays the foundation for enabling machines such as conveyor systems, mills, and crushers to supply additional data. The analysis of this data provides you with all information needed to make well-informed, fact-based maintenance decisions at any time – and to optimally plan maintenance and service measures in advance.

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Mining in the 21st century

Digitalization is the key

Tumbling commodity prices, declining global demand, rising safety and security risks: The global mining industry faces major challenges while needing to meet mounting stakeholder expectations. In order to stay competitive, companies have to become leaner, stronger, and more innovative. In this context, digitalization plays a crucial role by offering new possibilities to increase productivity – and operational excellence.

How to optimize operational excellence today

In the past, enhancing operational excellence in the mining industry often meant cutting costs. Today, modern technology opens up new ways to set new benchmarks in productivity. Leading mining companies all over the world rely on state-of-the-art automation, energy, and drilling systems to increase mining intensity with reduced personnel and energy costs. Some of them are able to achieve energy savings of 10 to 40% through renewable energy installations, innovative energy technologies, and highly automated mining processes.

Long-standing expertise in the mining industry

Our products for the mining industry are based on proven standards and tailored to the specific demands of your industry. Like those of our system platform Minerals Automation Standard, they offer maximum ease of use as well as a clear and well-conceived design.

Streamlining operations: MES

Productivity and operational excellence are key to stay competitive in the minerals industry. For this, modern information technology offers new possibilities: Leading minerals companies globally are continually investing in state-of-the-art IT technologies in order to increase mineral levels with lower personnel and operational costs.

 

For greater flexibility, improved decision-making, shorter system downtime and less unproductive hours, we provide you with tailor-made MES (Manufacturing Execution System) solutions. You gain comprehensive transparency along your entire value chain and at all facilities, e.g. from the mines to the railway and port facilities. In concrete terms, operating performance indicators from across all sites can be displayed and compared to each other. To make this possible, our MES solutions are capable of processing a large amount of real-time data and serving thousands of users simultaneously. The high level of integration with automation systems reduces unproductive hours, as data are provided immediately and reliably and less manual work like typing is required. Additionally, a single system allows the standardization of concepts, workflows, and indicators in different units of the company. All operational expertise of these units will be gathered in a digital database, facilitating the replication of the best practices and internal benchmarking.

Increasing productivity: stockpile management system

To optimize throughput times and guarantee requested quality output, storage and transport systems are an important part of advanced facilities for the transfer of bulk materials. What’s more: With an unmanned operation of stackers, reclaimers, and combined machines, you can achieve higher performance, increased accuracy, full utilization of the stockpile area, and optimized energy consumption compared to manned operation.

 

Our advanced automation solutions secure autonomous operation of your stackers and reclaimers. Thus, they help to reduce your operational costs and achieve a smoother and safer operation with less wear and tear of the mechanical parts of the equipment. The core element of the management system is the stockpiles 3D model with a record of both quantity and quality of materials. The model is updated regularly with data delivered by stackers and reclaimers. You also benefit from higher safety as all staff work is performed remotely: After working area and parameters for each job are specified, the details are calculated automatically and approved by the operator – then the job is transferred to the equipment. The rest is automatic. To prevent collisions and therefore equipment outages, the stockpile equipment comes with a protection system that uses data were delivered by sensors. Thanks to this collision protection system, there have been no incidents reported since Siemens solutions are implemented more than eight years ago.

Optimizing conveyor belt systems: simulation and digital twin

With decreasing erection phases, there is no time to waste in the construction and design of open-pit mines – particularly when it comes to dimensioning belt conveyor systems. But to reveal the dynamic behavior of the whole system and to explore and improve how the individual belt conveyor components work together, it needs more than the common calculation methods.

 

That’s why we work with digital simulation tools to develop your new systems as well as to study the behavior and interaction of the belt conveyor mechanics and drive solution in your existing systems: By means of simulation, it is possible to investigate changes, influences, and consequences in the system performance during modernization. We use the simulation results internally for planning and commissioning the drive solutions, or provide them to potential operators or system builders. Simulation simplifies the selection of the suitable drive solution and controller in order to optimize the operational and productivity ratios. In greenfield projects, engineers have the information they need to decide, for example, whether a drive solution with a hydraulic coupling is sufficient, or whether a drive solution with a frequency converter is more suitable. Simulation also allows improvements to be made in system operation and to minimize the idle time.

Maintaining highest availability: Asset Health Analytics

Availability is the basis for a productive mining business. Equipment failures or losses in performance have to be avoided by all means. And that’s where our digital asset health management comes in: It is basically consisting of the enrichment of condition monitoring systems with analytic and predictive functionalities as well as self-learning abilities. Its purpose is to recognize long-term changes to the general condition of mission-critical mining applications during their operational lifetime and to accordingly derive specific recommendations for conducting maintenance tasks in time.

 

Our asset health and performance management is generally based on a productive combination of high-end data infrastructure for data acquisition, and preprocessing, analytical tools, and methodology. The full potential of the above may be leveraged through digitalized services and lifecycle service packages. Your benefits include detection of problems at an early stage of their development as well as precise diagnosis for support in effective maintenance.

Improving operational excellence

Our operations intelligence software  collects, analyzes and presents operational and business data, thereby enabling real-time performance management, and decision support – for better productivity and competitiveness. This data transparency can help mining companies optimize their entire supply chain, and, where necessary, rethink their operating model. For example, how to deal with secondary processes. Whether they should keep, sell, or expand their water treatment, power generation, etc. Or whether they should consider a greater collaboration with their business partners, including shared infrastructures.

 

Process control system for mining requirements

Minerals Automation Standard is based on SIMATIC PCS 7, our open, flexible, and scalable distributed control system (DCS) designed to ensure highest productivity and reliability. With its integrated safety, industrial-security, and energy management concept, it combines all of the requirements needed to protect humans, machinery and the environment – and paves the way to the digital enterprise. The integrated Advanced Process Library (APL) offers the best route for gaining higher operational, and engineering efficiency. As such, it also paves the way to enhanced competitiveness in the mining industry. Get information on Minerals Automation Standard. 

 

References

Implementing concepts of tomorrow today already

Take a look at our references and use case examples, and see for yourself how you can improve the availability and energy efficiency across your entire process chain.

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Find out what benefits your mining application can draw from digitalization. Our experts will be happy to help you.

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