PDAC: Exyn Technologies integrates with Sandvik's OptiMine
Exyn Technologies, a pioneer in autonomous aerial robot systems for complex, GPS-denied industrial environments, is leading the charge to help modernise the mining industry through fully autonomous operations, with more product integrations in the pipeline with partners Sandvik and Rock Solutions.
Exyn unveiled plans on the opening day of the virtual edition of the PDAC (Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada) convention.
By synthesizing critical data and capabilities, Exyn and Sandvik are helping mining customers transform their underground operations to be safer, more productive, and more efficient. Using Exyn’s industrial-grade autonomous drone, ExynAero, mining companies can harness completely pilotless flight to access impossible-to-reach data with maximum safety.
The data collected is processed using Exyn’s onboard 3D mapping technology - powered by ExynAI - which is then integrated with Sandvik’s OptiMineMine Visualizer solution for analysis and optimization of underground mining production and process.
The partnership with Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions allows mining customers to benef it from comprehensive underground aerial 3D mapping with progressive visualization that increases overall transparency of mining operations; including for GPS-denied, hard-to-reach, or hazardous areas, or locations that would be time-consuming to survey and inspect using conventional methods.
“This step in our partnership with Exyn is critical. Our teams have been working closely together to ensure the connection between Exyn and Sandvik’s systems would be seamless and easy for operators to use,” said David Hallett, Vice President, Business Unit Automation, Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions.
“When this feature gets rolled out to the market as part of OptiMine®, it will allow our customers to analyze Exyn’s high-resolution, aerial maps in OptiMine®. After this demonstration, we look forward to further developing our partnership and integrating our hardware and software systems in the coming months.”
“We’re very proud to expand our partnership with Sandvik and to deliver the key benefits of safety and operational efficiency to all the humans involved in the mining industry,” added Nader Elm, CEO and Co-Founder of Exyn Technologies.
“By offering world-class software and technology, we have given customers the ability to map areas underground they could never before reach. Our end goal is to be an integral part of fully autonomous mining operations and I’m confident that through our partnership with Sandvik, we’re one step closer.”
Smarter Technologies: transforming operations with IoT
Digital technology has become a key enabler of margin improvement and an enhancer of competitiveness in the mining sector. Although the majority of the top mining businesses have already started their digital journey in some capacity, many of the smaller players are lagging behind when it comes to digital transformation.
Smart Mining with IoT
Recent analysis by Allied Market Research, which estimates that the global smart mining industry is projected to reach $24bn by 2027, relays fears that those that don't join the big players in the digital uptake of solutions like IoT, will be left behind.
“As a traditionally risk-averse industry, many mining sector stakeholders struggle to invest in new technologies without a guaranteed return on investment (ROI),” explains Matthew Margetts, Director of Sales & Marketing at Smarter Technologies – suppliers of IoT solutions to the UK’s Ministry of Defence and the Royal Air Force. “Innovative miners at all levels are using new technologies to make mining operations safer, more productive, and more cost-efficient.”
Mines are often dangerous places to work, and worker health and safety are top priorities for mining operations. Smart Mining Technology keeps track of your assets and has the potential to improve mine safety in several ways: locate people, recover machinery and reduce the risk of serious injury.
Autonomous mining vehicles have been around for nearly two decades. During this time, these vehicles have revolutionised mining by allowing humans to communicate with and control machinery remotely. In this day and age, the focus has shifted from the original autonomous mining vehicles to autonomous mining systems, which can carry out a series of integrated tasks automatically. Removing the need for humans to be on-site increases workforce safety.
The benefits of autonomous mining functions include:
- Improved safety
- Decreased incidents
- The ability to work in areas that would be too dangerous for humans
- Increased productivity
- Reduced labour costs
Predictive analysis and insights
When mining assets are connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) and a central management system, this enables operational intelligence. By analysing operational data, mining operators are better equipped to foresee and prevent any dangerous incidents from occurring. The ability to conduct predictive maintenance also means a lower risk of mechanical breakdown and failure.
Wearable technologies have become more advanced and non-invasive, making it easier to track the mining workforce, even deep underground and in remote locations. With real-time visibility of all staff, key workers can be located instantly. In the event of an emergency, response times and recovery rates are significantly improved. Along with improved safety, workforce tracking data can also be used to monitor staff attendance and identify where productivity can be increased.
A series of smart IoT sensors can measure virtually anything - from pressure to humidity, temperature, air quality, gas levels, sound and more. If the conditions in a specific area change in any predefined way, instant notifications can alert teams of potential safety risks and potentially prevent incidents before they occur.
Increase efficiency and reduced operational costs
Making mines “smart” has the effect of lowering operational costs. In a smart mine, key assets are digitised by embedding smart sensors that report data to a central system via a wireless network. Many of the same use cases of smart mining technology mentioned above not only improve mine safety, but also help to reduce operational costs.
Wireless monitoring systems that relay real-time data lower operational costs in a number of ways:
- Reduced reliance on paying human resources
- Reduced reliance on vehicles and petrol costs for data and asset collection
- No need for expensive cabling and system maintenance operations
- Maintaining critical assets more effectively increases return on investment
Having real-time visibility of mining assets allows you to track the location of your mining equipment when you need to use it. This is especially useful as self-driving machinery becomes more widely adopted in the industry. Instead of wasting time searching for various assets, you’ll be able to optimise productivity and profitability by streamlining your operations from your central management dashboard.
Automating the data gathering processes using smart technology reduces the need for time-consuming and potentially dangerous data collection. Access to real-time data is critical to optimising efficiencies and reducing costs. In contrast, by the time a worker has collected information and returned to the office, the data they have gathered is already outdated.
Maintenance and management
With real-time data connectivity and data analytics, you can optimise your mine’s maintenance schedules and production rates dynamically. With predictive analytics enabled by smart tracking and condition monitoring, you’ll be able to quickly identify required changes to predefined maintenance schedules to keep your equipment running efficiently and safely. This too avoids potential incidents that can disrupt or halt operations for weeks or months, in turn keeping the mine running and generating profits.
Although there are barriers to mines adopting new technologies, these must be overcome in order for mines to remain competitive and successful in an increasingly digital age. From improving safety to enhancing productivity and efficiency, smart mines are the future of the industry.