The connected digital mine will improve mine safety, sustainability, productivity and efficiency
The need to constantly reinvent operations to optimize safety, sustainability and efficiency has made the case for the digital mine more compelling than ever. Mine operators have ramped up their investments in digital automation – or Mining 4.0 – solutions in recent years, putting themselves at the cutting edge of industrial innovation and transformation.
Mining is a volatile business. Shareholder expectations are high and maintaining investor credibility is key. Because labor and operating costs are proportionately high, there’s constant pressure on workforces to be more productive, efficient and effective. Mining companies often operate in remote and challenging environments, so they need to work hard to protect the terrain and keep workers safe and healthy.
Digital transformation and mine automation can support smart mining applications that deliver significant rewards. Advances in the industrial Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, machine learning and augmented and virtual reality make it possible to improve decision-making, drive autonomous trucks, track assets and monitor operations to ensure safe conditions.
With connected mining solutions, mine operators will be able to dramatically reduce injuries and fatalities and use just-in-time productivity to revolutionize efficiency and deliver tonnage on demand.
Find out how digital transformation is reshaping the mining industry
The network can make or break digital mining transformation
The combination of pervasive wireless networking and reliable voice and data connectivity is the key to making mining automation work. It enhances critical communications and enables new smart mining applications that can optimize operations.
Today, many mine sites are held back by aging communications infrastructures that lack the robust capacity, reliability, security and mobility required to support automated mining operations. Legacy Wi-Fi, TETRA and P25-based radio networks weren’t created to meet the demands of ultra-broadband and mission-critical use cases and video communications. Proprietary network technologies also don’t have roadmaps that can support future requirements the way that standards-based solutions do.
4.9G/LTE and 5G are the only technologies that can meet all the demands of digital mines.
Connected mining use cases enabled by 4.9/LTE and 5G critical communications
Digital mining technologies and critical communications enable a wide range of connected mining use cases, including:
All manually operated equipment, from diggers and haulers to crushers and trains, will eventually be replaced with autonomous mining equipment. Remote operations will supplement automation and enable 24/7 operations by allowing workers to monitor automated processes and operate machinery at a distance using virtual telepresence.
Geo-location, tracking and fencing:
Smart PPE wearables can be used with geo-fencing applications to alert workers as they approach no-go zones. These capabilities can also provide a much-needed lifeline in confined spaces and other situations where the risk of accidents is high.
Mining companies can use AR/VR systems to train workers and give them real-time information. With step-by-step instructions delivered using AR glasses, maintenance staff can fix problems faster.
Enterprise LAN/WAN, data center and cyber-security:
Mining operations are not limited to what’s happening in the pit or on the conveyor belt. Staff and IT systems need reliable and secure communications in and between headquarters, branch offices and data centers.
Worker safety is a top priority for the mining industry. Mine operators can’t manage what they don’t see. Technologies that enable 360° visibility of people, assets, infrastructure, and health and environmental conditions can save lives, prevent productivity losses and increase operational efficiency.
Predictive asset maintenance
Collecting data from IoT sensors helps mining companies understand the condition of every asset in real time. They can use this data to predict failure times or support condition-based maintenance that reduces costs, increases utilization and extends asset life.
Mission-critical voice and video communications:
Push-to-talk (PTT) and push-to-video (PTV) services offer advanced functions for person-to-person and group communications. A panic button can save the life of a worker who has become trapped or confined, or urgently alert personnel in case of a fire or chemical spill.
Private wireless networks create a single platform for digital mining automation
The 4G/LTE cellular wireless networks used by mobile operators worldwide have all the features and characteristics that the vast majority of business-critical and mission-critical mining applications require. Over the last few years, these capabilities have become widely available to enterprises through industrial-grade private wireless networks, which were pioneered ten years ago by Nokia in an Australian mine.
The major advantage of a private wireless network is that it can support all of a smart mine’s digital applications. One single infrastructure enables fast, reliable and secure data, low-latency remote control, mission-critical PTT/PTV communications and real-time video transmission.
Putting industrial-grade 5G mining communications to work
5G presents exciting new possibilities to the mining industry, and it’s here today. Private 5G networks provide the massive scalability needed to connect all of a mine’s people and critical applications, from pit to port. By combining high reliability, security and bandwidth with ultra-low latency, these networks can enable even more digital mining use cases, from ultra-high-definition video services to real-time remote control of robots and drones.
Nokia MX Industrial Edge
A disruption in mission-critical operations in a mine could have major consequences, ranging from total shutdown of machines to environmental impact, worker injury and loss of life. To fulfill operational technology requirements, mines need a high-performance, agile, resilient and secure edge solution that can process complex workloads on the premises.
Find out how the Nokia MX Industrial Edge and Industry 4.0 applications can accelerate the digital transformation of your operational technology.
One wireless mining network for open-pit and underground operations
Rocks or minerals close to the Earth’s surface can be extracted from open pits, with no tunnelling required. This means that open-pit mines have a relatively large space available for network infrastructure deployment and that radio antennas have a large coverage angle.
Underground mines have much more complex structures. They typically feature confined spaces with thick rock walls and networks of drifts and galleries. Network planning, design and deployment can be difficult underground, but connectivity is crucial. With conditions limiting visibility for people and systems, fast, reliable data transfer becomes vitally important.
Wireless network architecture design and radio planning are the keys to a successful implementation underground. Ensuring pervasive, always-on coverage can take a combination of radio technologies, including small cells, micro remote radio heads (RRHs), distributed antenna arrays (DASs) and radiating cables (also known as leaky feeders). These technologies often need to be integrated with existing UHF/VHF systems.
Industrial-grade private wireless provides underground mines with a single infrastructure that supports reliable, secure voice, data and video communications and automated applications with high-speed data transfer and low latency. While coverage of a single antenna is often limited to a section or a gallery, the 4.9G/LTE or 5G signal conveniently supports caving, room-and-pillar and longwall mining methods, as well as in-mine mission-critical and emergency voice and video communications.
Ruggedized devices for working in extreme conditions
Real-time communication is safety-critical in a challenging environment such as an open-pit or underground mine. Portable communication devices and applications need to be ultra-reliable and easy for workers to use. A single button push or a fast emergency call could make the difference between life and death. Autonomous vehicles need to securely connect over industrial routers to the private network, while their operators remotely monitor the video streams from connected cameras.
For a digital mine, an optimal solution includes ruggedized industrial handhelds with dedicated PTT/PTV buttons, ruggedized workpads with bigger screens for viewing maps, ruggedized routers and 4G/5G dongles, complemented by a reliable group communication application.
Explore our solutions for digital mines.
Nokia Digital Automation CloudAccelerate your digital transformation with a simple and secure private wireless network platform
MX Industrial Edge
Provide the ultra-low latency your business-critical applications need with a platform that processes your data on premise
Nokia industrial devices
Ruggedized industrial handhelds, workpads, routers, dongles, hotspots, and accessories
Virtualized Network Services
SD-WAN 2.0 to securely control the consumption of virtualized services across the entire network
Discover how Nokia is connecting digital mines
Nokia is the undisputed leader in private wireless networks and critical communications for digitalizing the mining industry. Our solutions leverage our leadership in wireless networking, converged WAN, IoT and cloud platforms and cyber security.
The Nokia private 4.9G/LTE solution can meet the connectivity demands of more than 85 percent of digital mining use cases. It also offers a straightforward upgrade path to 5G.
By combining our technology solutions with a broad range of professional services – from planning and RF design to managed operations – we offer an unrivalled approach for digital mining transformation, enabling our customers to create the mine of the future.
More than 485 customers from different industries have already deployed Nokia 4.9G/LTE and 5G private wireless solutions. Within the mining industry, more than 35 companies are testing, trialing and operating our networks at 65-plus mine sites, across every continent.
How Nokia accelerates your digital mining journey
Industry 4.0 will enable you to increase safety, sustainability, efficiency and productivity at your mining sites. So what if you could achieve it all faster? We believe that a state-of-the-art 4.9G/LTE or 5G private wireless network is the best starting point for delivering agile and automated surface and underground mining facilities.
Our high-performance, mission-critical wireless networks and services make it easy to use digital tools to deal with fluctuating demand, control operational costs and address growing safety and sustainability concerns. They provide a foundation for bringing new levels of agility and automation to your mining facilities using solutions optimized for smart mining.
With our proven technologies and expert support, you can modernize and streamline your operations by taking advantage of automation, robotics, digitally enhanced equipment, sensor data, predictive analytics, machine learning and more.
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