By Chris Nelms
January 3, 2018 - As the mining industry continues to climb out of tough years, reducing costs, improving productivity, and enhancing safety are among the top priorities for most. Several technology opportunities exist to help mining professional achieve these goals, and when key offerings are combined, they offer a big boost to an operation’s efficiency and effectiveness. Here are three of the primary technology offerings RDO Integrated Controls and its partners are bringing to the mining industry.
By combining sensors and software, the biggest advantage machine control offers the mining industry is realized in efficiency. Mines move thousands, even millions of yards of material per year. When mismanaged and moved inefficiently, it can waste time, fuel, effort, and, most importantly, money.
Carlson Machine Control offers a solution that provides operators an accurate visual guide of position, making them better able to follow cuts and fills per the grading plan. And, Carlson software integrates with most brands of AutoCAD software.
On the management side, all machines enabled with Carlson’s machine control technology can report to a central hub where all machine positions can easily be viewed by engineers, managers, and other office staff. Management can track efficiency and productivity, and make adjustments if necessary, while also being able to send any project changes or updates directly to the machines, rather than manually visiting every machine onsite.
Machine intelligence (or awareness) offers insight into everything about a piece of equipment, from tire pressure to optimum bucket load, in order to optimize operation of all machines for maximum productivity.
iVolve is a machine intelligence system designed to boost utilization of equipment like excavators and haul trucks. The iVolve hardware uses various sensors, such as hydraulic sensors and brake sensors to track and display machine awareness in real time. The product is compatible with most manufacturer’s equipment, making it an option for mixed fleets.
Like with the Carlson software, all machines running on iVolve report to a centralized hub. Based on pre-determined or developed criteria, viewers can see where all machines are onsite, and see alerts if they’re near any trouble spots like large potholes or other obstructions, or if there are any concerns with the machine’s operation or health. The immediate, real-time availability of all machine data and alerts enables management to detect machine or productivity issues, or spot safety hazards quickly, and make adjustments right away to avoid downtime or other major problems.
An added benefit of iVolve’s tracking is operators no longer need to fill out machine pre-checks or haul reports, and there’s no data entry personnel needed to enter these logs into a system manually. Not only does this save time and effort, it eliminates potential human error.
Not long ago, UAV technology was new to most in the mining industry; an exciting opportunity. Today, UAVs offer advantages like accuracy, efficiency, and safety with their ability to survey and provide 3D mapping and modeling of sites.
senseFly offers numerous UAV solutions, both fixed-wing and copter-style, and the technology can be used in several ways. Short-term opportunities include pit and dump management, storm damage assessment and control, and general daily plan communication, while long-term advantages includes haul road, dump, and pit design, surface stability monitoring, and mapping of steep, in accessible inclines. When a job is complete, all the data the UAV has collected can be used as final proof the project, even the final reclaim portion, was done to spec.
UAVs cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time, especially compared to traditional surveying, and reach areas that would be inaccessible or dangerous for workers to navigate. Set up and planning of flights is also fast, and both imagery and video can be captured by a UAV.
Bringing It All Together
Today’s equipment professionals are living in a world of data overload. While nearly all recognize the value of collecting and analyzing data to run more efficient fleets and make better operational decisions, few have the time to actually execute a data-driven strategy. This is where RDO Integrated Controls steps in.
Understanding that data can be overwhelming to even the most savvy fleet manager, the RDO Integrated Controls team works with every customer to find out how the data can best work for them, and provide it in a way that allows them to use it for better management. The company also offers a Fleet Shield Services program featuring warranty and repair guarantees, and Solutions Center for questions and troubleshooting help.
With many exciting opportunities for the mining industry, it’s important to look for the ones that offer the biggest impact. Combining Carlson’s machine control solution with iVolve and UAV technology, RDO Integrated Controls can help mining professionals increase efficiency and safety, while reducing costs and manual time and effort.
Chris Nelms is an Account Manager with RDO Integrated Controls in San Antonio, TX.