Technological development is something that has been our companion throughout the centuries, mainly for the purpose of positively influencing every aspect of our lives. An industrial revolution that has never stopped, aiming at improving the quality of work, human safety, and adverse effects on the environment.
These are the underlying concepts that led to the first episode of the new season of Global Trends: the BKT format, which is going to address trends and topics related to the OTR universe providing a 360-degree view by means of exclusive and engaging content; this is going to happen after the extraordinary figures of the past edition: 1.5 million views, 4 million impressions and over 260 media articles published in 22 countries. But that’s not all: over 150 content pieces around the first season were published on BKT’s social channels and shared by users all over the world.
This episode starts with a few simple questions: Can new technologies really change the mining sector, improve its efficiency, and have a positive impact on the environment? Can automation and robotics make the safe mining process safer? The exceptional guests in the BKT studio provide some answers in the first episode “Technology, Automation & Robotics”.
The first guest delves into the topic of sustainability in the global mining industry, illustrating how technology plays a leading role in this transition.
“Technology definitely contributes to making mining businesses worldwide sustainable. A concrete example is the ever-increasing use of electric vehicles by miners, resulting in reduced emissions”– explains the first guest, Frik Els, Executive Editor of Mining.com, the world’s most viewed mining news and opinion site. Indeed, the major mining companies are investing in both electric fleets and the automation of their processes in order to achieve their sustainability goals. “Mining is marked by a more and more increasing level of process automation. This way, the large companies can make significant savings, considering that most of these operations run 24/7. And let us not forget that mineral mining is to be increased exponentially, if we really want to eliminate fossil fuels permanently.” On the one hand, Frik Els emphasizes the importance of adopting technology in the mining industry, on the other hand, he indicates several difficulties and barriers such as regulations. Another important point of the talk concerns automation and labor: The nature of work is actually evolving and changing. Automation and robotics facilitate operators’ jobs so that they can focus on other activities.
Remaining in the field of technology, the more and more crucial role of drones in mining is a big step towards the future. “Drones are a fascinating challenge since they provide significant advantages, mainly in relation to the close inspection of mines. These little flying robots are programmed to detect and transmit data providing, for instance, close-up views of areas that might be dangerous for human beings, without jeopardizing their safety.” This is the interesting viewpoint the second guest, Andrew Petruska, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines, brings up. He continues: “In my vision of the mine of the future, this is the first step in taking people out of that challenging environment, with machinery doing the job inside and underground, and us monitoring and controlling from the outside. Moreover, drones are becoming increasingly fundamental for rescue operations by exploring the areas and detecting the risks where humans have to go to save people in danger.” Thanks to the use of autonomous drones making use of Artificial Intelligence for navigation and obstacle avoidance, it is possible to operate in underground areas where GPS does not work. The ideal future of the mining industry therefore will be made of automated systems, and human workers monitoring and controlling activities from the surface level, reducing the need for energy-intensive ventilation, and making mining more sustainable – a revolution for underground mining inspection.
And, in all of this – how is BKT moving to facilitate mining operations?
This is explained in detail by Chris Rhoades, Vice President OTR of BKT USA. Providing an analysis of how technology is transforming the mining sector, he highlights how technology is the drive of the revolution in this sector, and how we can witness a paradigm shift in the way mining activities are conducted.
“At BKT, we are studying how to deploy technology to mining operations in order to help companies with their productivity and automation. Mining companies maximize their profitability by moving material as fast as possible. Tires play a crucial role due to their impact on load capacity, speed, and efficiency. This is why we have created a program called “Spotech” that helps mines maximize their productivity by selecting the right tire: We collect data on the mine´s operation by fitting the trucks with video cameras capturing GPS data and tracking transport routes, speed and distance, as well as accelerometers to detect G-forces. We install these devices on trucks for a day, analyze the data and prepare a report indicating areas for optimization. We then show operators the best tire for their application in order to achieve maximum productivity. All of this has also an impact on sustainability: choosing the wrong tire leads to a poor use of resources and increased costs. Thanks to Spotech, we have demonstrated that we can reduce tire changes by at least 10% in a fleet”.
The entire episode is available here: https://www.bkt-network.com/technology-automation-and-robotics