The mining industry boasts incredibly sophisticated equipment operating in remote locations across the world, with sensors and instruments constantly monitoring their performance. The ways in which it stores, accesses and uses that information, however, is not always so advanced. All too often housed in traditional legacy systems, it is as if it’s the information itself that is buried underground, unable to reveal its true value.
Like many industries, the mining sector is increasingly examining the benefits of moving its data to the cloud, with more mining companies deciding to migrate their many data streams.
“There is a lot of interest in moving data to the cloud to improve agility and speed, and to get meaningful insight across the entire supply chain,” says Kamal Maggon, SVP, manufacturing & consumer at Hexaware. “Legacy systems can achieve that, but it is time-consuming and needs a lot of maintenance.”
Maggon leads Hexaware’s efforts driving customer satisfaction and growth strategies in the manufacturing and consumer sectors, where he is also responsible for delivering innovation, competency and transformation. Part of his job is to identify which Hexaware solutions will bring the most benefits to clients in specific industries, and a key tool he sees as having value in the mining industry is Amaze for Data and AI.
“It is a set of tools to accelerate the journey to the cloud,” Maggon explains. “It helps to move a large amount of data to the cloud using a lot of automation, so it is less prone to inaccuracy. It reduces by 60% the effort needed to migrate data to the cloud, where it can deliver meaningful insights.”
Digging deep into data
By housing data on the cloud and making it easily accessible from anywhere, companies, such as those in the mining sector, can free themselves from the limitations of legacy systems and from the need to maintain their own data centres. With the cloud, there is no need to worry about data storage capacity, as cloud services can quickly scale up to provide the capacity that the client needs at any given moment.
“If we look at the amount of data generated in the mining industry, it is immense,” Maggon remarks. “It is coming from the production process, the supply chain, everywhere. For instance, every truck is constantly spitting out data from 200 or more sensors. The company needs to first ingest all of that data, then prepare it and then analyse it.”
“The cloud helps with agility and the speed of analysis, which are greater than if the data is held in silos on legacy systems,” Maggon adds. “When the solution is properly designed, access to the data is easy and reliable, so the business analyst can get actionable insights in real time.”
Imagine a fleet of large trucks, costing millions of dollars and fitted with hundreds of sensors, for which drivers are constantly being fed instructions that are often based on those sensor readings. One reason could be to plan a route through the mine to maximise the efficiency of each journey, to which minor adjustments could add up to substantial gains.
“The cumulative effect could create a massive amount of savings, but only if the data analysis is happening in real time,” Maggon says. “That is only possible on the cloud, and if the data is well managed, clean and easily available.”
Unearthing cost savings
Planning more efficient routes for hauling ore is just one potential use of real-time, cloud-based data analysis for the mining sector. There are potentially huge gains to be made in driver productivity, fuel savings, improved health and safety for drivers, increased lifespan of heavy equipment, more efficient use of machinery leading to cost savings, and many more applications.
For this reason, the adoption of cloud services in the mining industry is starting to grow steadily, despite some initial reticence.
“Mining is a very traditional industry, and it is sometimes slow to adopt new technologies,” Maggon observes. “It is a complex industry with data streams from many processes – extraction, hauling and processing to name just a few – and it is highly capital-intensive. For that reason, a small change can have a big financial impact, and not embracing the cloud is a big opportunity loss.”
A prime example of these gains can be found in Hexaware’s work with one of the world’s premier publicly traded mining companies, headquartered in the US, optimising the performance of its fleet of automated haulage trucks. Hexaware leveraged Amaze for Data & AI to enable the mining giant to migrate its on-premises data warehouse, and applications for monitoring and controlling mining operations, to the Snowflake cloud platform, resulting in a 60% TCO reduction in transition costs [see embedded cast study]. The enterprise reported significantly improved safety and performance, as well as a reduction in SOP violations and marked decrease in total recordable incident rate counts.
Such successes serve to showcase just what is achievable through the right data migration strategy. As operators wake up to the possibilities of automation and AI in this space, soon such in-cloud capabilities will be a must-have across the mining industry.