It’s no secret that mines can be harsh on the people and equipment that keep them running. In the past, these severe conditions have prevented the mining industry from innovating at the same speed as other sectors. In fact, mining companies have seen a 3.5% decrease in productivity each year for the past decade.
Now that the mining industry has made strides in technology, more resilient fiber optics cables have allowed “smart mines” to pick up steam. Mines that have implemented new technologies have seen incredible gains. With specialized fiber optic solutions, mines can increase productivity, keep workers safe, make more money, and even protect the environment.
Smart Mines are the Future
While the harsh conditions in mines had previously kept fiber optics and other smart technologies out of play, innovations in fiber sensors are about to lead the industry into a new era. Allied Market Research projects a growth rate of 14.9% for smart mining by 2022. This growth will be driven by a demand for improved safety, increased productivity, and decreased costs.
With More Data Comes More Productivity
The decrease in productivity that the mining industry saw in the past decade is a top concern for many industry leaders. However, it seems that the industry has reached a turning point, in large part thanks to smart mining.
Miners can now use sensors within mines to collect massive amounts of data. Professionals can use this data to understand the lay of the land. With a clearer-than-ever picture of the rock face, miners can make better decisions, optimize drilling and blasting, and be more productive than ever.
Since its inception, safety has been a significant concern in the mining industry. Thanks to advances in technology, sector leaders can finally dare to dream of a day with no safety incidents. One way technology is making mining safer is through worksite simulators. Instead of training new hires in a live mining site, employers can use simulations to teach rookies what to do in an emergency.
Another game-changing innovation lies in smart helmets. Long gone are the days of canaries signaling carbon monoxide poisoning. Today, miners can place carbon monoxide sensors inside each worker’s helmet. If the sensor detects anything outside of a set range, it can alert the appropriate people and save lives—human and bird. Self-driving vehicles, rescue devices, and RFID communication are more examples of ways technology can make this industry safer than ever.
Better Profit Margins
Like technical innovations in other industries, the introduction of smart mining will spur growth in this sector. In fact, a 2017 study projected that intelligent sensors alone would add $34 billion in value to the mining and metals industry between 2016 and 2025. In the face of economic challenges, this growth is what many mining companies need right now. As more data comes in regarding smart mining, it becomes clearer that fiber optic sensors and other technological innovations will become vital to mining companies.
As consumers become more eco-conscious, there is a push for mining to become more sustainable. Mining companies that want to meet these demands should consider smart technologies. One case study found that computer aids, remote sensing, and other innovations can help reduce the environmental impact of mining operations
It’s clear that smart mines are the future of the industry, and for many good reasons. Mines that integrate communications technologies can see more productivity, safety, profits, and environmental benefits.
Fiberguide is proud to make sensors that can withstand the harsh environment inside mines. Learn more about how our products can help shape the future of mining.
Author: Kevin Rauscher