Rock Products

OCT 2016

Rock Products is the aggregates industry's leading source for market analysis and technology solutions, delivering critical content focusing on aggregates-processing equipment; operational efficiencies; management best practices; comprehensive market

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38 • ROCK products • October 2016 EQUIPMENT & TECHNOLOGY AUTOMATION & ENERGY A volatile commodities market has impacted mining com- panies' profitability and sustainability in recent years, according to "The Connected Mine," a white paper released by Rockwell Automation. Whether this situation continues for the foreseeable future or a turnaround is just around the corner remains to be seen, but the fact is it's having a transformative effect on mining operations and business priorities. Today, mining companies are focusing their operational invest- ments on areas that can help them maximize yield recoveries and improve operating efficiencies while still meeting reg- ulatory requirements and maintaining safe or "zero harm" working environments. They're also seeking opportunities to better utilize their shrinking pool of skilled workers, and to gain new flexibility to meet future supply chain demands. Connected or "smart" operations can help in all of these areas. Greater connectivity and information sharing can help mining companies better understand their operations, improve their performance and reduce safety risks. The Power of Information Some of the largest mining companies in the world are already harnessing the power of connected operations to significantly transform their operations. •  They're using connected devices and smart machines to capture real-time process information and make better business decisions. •  They're gaining deeper insights into their equipment to improve asset productivity. They're identifying and reduc- ing variability across their processes. •  They're using greater connectivity to establish remote-op- erations centers and support autonomous material transportation. Beyond these operational benefits, companies are using better connectivity to help better track employees for enhanced safety, improved metal accounting and to achieve significant energy savings. This is the connected mine. It's created from the conver- gence of traditionally separate information technology (IT) and operations technology (OT) systems into a single, unified network infrastructure that allows for seamless connectivity and information sharing across the mining enterprise. It's enabled by emerging technologies for the mining sector, such as advanced diagnostics, cloud computing and remote access. Cloud solutions, for example, can be used for important safety and security communications such as underground ventilation information to keep workers appraised of envi- ronmental conditions. Companies can harness the power of a connected mine to capture greater value from their opera- tions in three key ways: • Operational intelligence. • Reduced safety risks. • Remote and autonomous operations support. Four Tips for Creating a Connected Mine 1. Modernize and standardize control equipment and soft- ware for system interoperability across the entire mining enterprise and consistent performance measurement across sites. 2. Use production intelligence software to obtain a cohesive view of seemingly disparate mining data. Such software can provide context for relationships among mining equipment, raw materials, ore and people to help opti- mize process control and maximize production. A modern distributed control system with integrated control and information-gathering capabilities provides the means for collecting the intelligence and acting on it. 3. Use model predictive control (MPC) software to help oper- ators push equipment to its limits. MPC software has been shown to successfully increase throughput by up to 8 per- cent in mining applications, as well as reduce variability by 45 percent and emissions by 35 percent. 4. Deploy a defense-in-depth (DiD) security approach to mitigate potential risks. While the connected mine promises tremendous benefit, it also brings security concerns to the forefront. DiD is a recommended best security practice that uses multiple layers of protec- tion through a combination of physical, electronic and procedural safeguard. Rockwell Automation, Rockwell Automation Touts 'The Connected Mine"

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