May 17, 2020

5 Challenges of Integrating Automation

3 min
An excavator goes to work on a surface coal mine [IMAGE CREDIT: shutterstock]
In times of instability, with profit margins rising and falling with fluctuating commodity prices, the idea of implementing automated processes becomes...

In times of instability, with profit margins rising and falling with fluctuating commodity prices, the idea of implementing automated processes becomes even more appealing. At its best, automation can equate to increased efficiency (which itself gives way in turn to increased productivity) and increased worker safety as more difficult or dangerous jobs are given over to machines while employees stay safely behind the controls.

There’s no doubt that automation is ramping up and gathering interest in the mining industry: according to surveys taken earlier this year, 77 percent of mining specialists consider automation a top priority while more than half believe that the mining industry should be investing more heavily in automation technology than it has been. Some mining companies are already ahead of the curve, like BHP Billiton whose CEO has stated that the effective implementation of automation technology could save the mining industry billions in cost savings and decreased time lost to work injuries.

But automation is still in relatively stages, and there are still a lot of challenges to overcome before automation in mining reaches its maximum potential:

1. Integrating Old Systems with New Systems

Automation doesn’t happen overnight — performing a complete equipment overhaul would be beyond cost prohibitive for most companies, which means that automated equipment will more often than not be plugged in one or two puzzle pieces at a time. Because of this, mining and equipment companies are going to have to work together closely to ensure that new systems are able to integrate and interoperate seamlessly with older systems.

2. New Skill Sets Needed for Workers

Skilled workers are essential to any job. But as automation becomes more widespread, the skills and training needed from workers in the mining industry will change dramatically. There will be a rise in the need for employees who are able to control and even repair automated systems; as this happens, one challenge will be finding the right employees to fit these changing roles. It will also be important for established mining outfits to offer the proper training to ensure that new workers are ready for the job at hand.

3. The Way Business Operates

Change is not only in store for new employees: as automation is implemented, roles will also change at existing mining operations and challenge executives to rethink positions and fits for their existing employees. In addition to providing training for new employees, a mining company considering automation should also make sure that its long-term employees are given the tools and training necessary to adapt to their likely changing roles.  

4. A New Definition of Safety

Any time new equipment pieces, systems, and processes are brought online, there is a potential for safety risks to shift and change and for new risks to arise. As automation becomes more prevalent, a challenge that companies will be tasked with is assessing these new risks and developing new protocols and training for workplace safety to match the changing nature of the work at hand.

5. The Risks of Being a Pioneer

There’s a certain prestige to being the first to try new things. But along with the benefits, there are also costs to being a pioneer in newer fields like mining automation: if issues and challenges in your automation integration process arise that no one foresaw, those on the front lines will not have the luxury of being able to look to more experienced peers for advice, and will have to troubleshoot 100 percent internally without much support. For some, that’s an intimidating thought. But for others, it’s a welcome and exciting challenge and a chance to set new standards that will live on into the future. 

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Dec 3, 2020

Net zero benefits the mining industry and the environment

digital mining
Dan Brightmore
3 min
Learn how to future proof your business for a zero-carbon world with help from Emitwise and the Oren Marketplace.
Learn how to future proof your business for a zero-carbon world with help from Emitwise and the Oren Marketplace...

How do we get the world to net-zero faster?

Emitwise’s founders, Mauro Cozzi, Eduardo Gómez and Ben Peddie, approached a network of more than 100 of the world's largest enterprises and asked their CEOs, CFOs, and sustainability managers the big question: How do we get the world to net-zero faster? The challenge many shared was the lack of timely and accurate emissions data to enable strategic decisions. Companies often relied on annual audits of their carbon footprint for carbon accounting purposes. However, static yearly results were outdated upon publishing.

Emitwise saves companies an average of 260 working days a year by automating their scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions data. With the added benefits of clean audit trails and auto-populated accounting reports in line with GHG Protocol, all at the click of a button. Their easy to use solution enables businesses to quickly identify the carbon hotspots to target, and the precise real-time data empowers teams to remain agile and respond effectively, making achieving those goals possible.

Unique AI Technology

Emitwise’s unique AI technology empowers businesses to automatically measure, report and reduce their carbon footprint across their operations and supply chain, future-proofing companies for a zero-carbon world. It is the only solution that enables companies to fully automate their carbon accounting across all business units and suppliers, therefore liberating them from the drudgery of collecting and processing emissions data.

By using artificial intelligence to precisely measure emissions in real-time, businesses can identify and tackle carbon hotspots swiftly, enabling them to devise a trackable roadmap to net-zero carbon. At the same time, accurate audit trails and auto-populated annual reports ensure that companies comply with international reporting requirements, and align businesses with global climate targets to mitigate risk across their operations and supply chain. 

The Oren Marketplace

Environmental management, social license to operate, safety, renewable energy to lower emissions and operational efficiency for mining can be supported by a range of digital solutions enabling dynamic operations. To address these issues, Shell and IBM joined forces to create the Oren Marketplace – the first B2B solutions platform for the mining sector. 

With the adoption of many of the digital solutions offered through Oren, mining companies can adapt in real-time to risks or adjust plans ahead of a problem occurring. The goal is a shift towards proactive management as the optimal outcome for all stakeholders – community, shareholders, and employees.

Emitwise was founded with the goal of helping industries across all sectors reduce their carbon footprint. Similarly, Shell aims to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050, or sooner, in step with society and its customers. And Oren is focused on offering innovative products and services that can help mining companies track and reduce their emissions. 

“Oren is the starting point for how we help our mining customers to de-carbonise,” explains Carol Chen, Global Lubricants Marketing, Vice President, Shell. “It’s our ambition to work with sectors like mining to help them find their own pathway to net-zero emissions through collaboration. The Oren marketplace offers a great opportunity for collaboration between the miners and technology companies that are joining this digital marketplace.” 

Web Summit

Emitwise will be showcasing its vision for a net-zero future live from Lisbon at this year’s Web Summit. Bringing together the people and companies redefining the global tech industry, the online event welcomes 100,000+ attendees from around the world to hear from more than 800 speakers and view offerings from 2,500 startups covering a vast range of topics from Data Science and Climate Change to AI and Machine Learning. To find out more and book your ticket visit Web Summit. 

Emitwise is one of many solutions providers on the Oren platform seeking to address the pain points and environmental concerns of heavy industries like mining. To discover a range of solutions that can further support your operation’s digital transformation and commitment to sustainability, visit the Oren Marketplace.

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