5 Mins With... Arun Narayanan, CDO, Anglo American
Arun Narayanan, Group Chief Data Officer, Anglo American, introduces VOXEL, the mining industry's first digital transformation platform for data-driven decisions...
What is VOXEL?
"VOXEL is the mining industry’s first digital transformation platform for data-driven decisions. It is the implementation of the Operating Model with machine learning and artificial intelligence. It encompasses the entire value chain for Anglo American and it helps us really move forward into the future. A platform built in the cloud... It is a very modern platform looking at all of the data that exists in our operations and trying to bring that all together is the first step."
How does VOXEL work?
"The data from digital twins, plus data coming in from our historians as well as geoscience data as well as external data is all pulled in into a modern, scalable infrastructure that we call the data lake. This data lake contains the data of our operations and presents the first opportunity for us to start to integrate things. As we begin to build these integrated models we are cleaning up the data. We are performing data management tasks at the lowest levels from data quality to the highest levels like data management. This cleaned-up information allows us to create data-rich applications... It gives us a great opportunity to leverage the advancements happening in the computer science industry to bring machine learning, artificial intelligence, burst capacity for our applications through cloud computing and much, much more."
What makes VOXEL different?
"The entire system, the entire value chain modelling, has been built specifically by us for mining as opposed to looking at other alternatives which are specifically targeted just to equipment or to other solutions. It looks at the full value chain, it takes in the deep expertise that sits in the T&S (Technical & Sustainability) organisation and the business units and it encapsulates that knowledge in the way these applications and these solutions are designed. It takes all of the digital twins that were built at individual steps of the value chain and pulls together almost a systematic digital twin of the full value chain - and that is really what sits at the heart of VOXEL."
How does VOXEL drive intellectual property and data ownership?
"We are taking a stand on data ownership. The data that we generate as part of our operations is an asset. It is our asset and we have to treat it as you would treat any other asset. We need to protect it, we need to make sure we are using it where it needs to be used and we need to make sure that we are getting the best return that we can get from that asset. And that is what the VOXELTM data programme sets out to do. It gives us a pathway to begin to claim ownership of that data and begin to use that data to drive the best decisions that we can – that we can get.
"The other aspect of this is intellectual property. Intellectual property in this system is owned almost entirely by Anglo American. We do work with industry-leading partners like Microsoft for the cloud solution and we buy other components where they are necessary but they are encapsulated away and the intelligence in the system is owned entirely by us. What that means for us from the scalability standpoint is that we can productise these solutions and deploy them at pace without incurring additional costs to all of our operations."
Arun Narayanan, Group Chief Data Officer, Anglo American
Coal India Secures First-Of-Its-Kind Digital Deal
Coal India Limited (CIL) has appointed Accenture Solutions to digitally transform seven of its open-cast mines as the company strives to improve performance and increase coal production. Accenture is due to lay down digitalisation groundwork until March 2022.
The deal aims to increase coal production by 100 million tonnes (MT) by the end of FY’23. Once the minimum quantity has been surpassed, an agreed sum will be paid to the consultant for every additional sum of coal produced. This success fee will only be paid on the procurement of the minimum assured quantity.
The move will see heavy earth moving machinery (HEMM) fitted with digital sensors to monitor performance efficiency at all levels. Additionally, modern data analytic techniques aim to increase mine productivity and project monitoring through functional system management and effective observation.
An Exciting Venture For Global Mining
CIL, which aims to provide energy security in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner, hopes the move will help transform the entire business of mining operations and ensure higher volumes of coal are acquired at a lower cost.
“This is a first of its kind initiative by the company utilising digitalisation to ramp up coal output,” CIL has said.
A Digital Step Towards Enhanced Performance
Digitalisation is expected to take place at open-cast mines in Kusmunda, Gevra, Dipka of Southern Eastern Coalfields (SECL), Migahi, Jayant, Dudhichua, and Khadia of Northern Coalfields (NCL). Nearly 32% (188 MT) of CIL’s 596 MT output in FY’21 was accounted for by the seven selected mines. However, this new deal is set to see a large increase following the subsequent digital changes due to be made.
“Learning from the outcome and success of this model, we may replicate it in our other large mines,” says CIL, optimistic about the future following the modernisation of their mining.
It is expected that the move will help address roadblocks and guarantee corrective measures are put into place, ensuring the company is able to move forward with its aim of increasing output whilst remaining sustainable and eco-friendly.