Optimizing Safety and Performance through Accenture’s Connected Mine

Optimizing Safety and Performance through Accenture’s Connected Mine

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How are @Accenture and Goldcorp connected? #DisruptMining http://bit.ly/2mKF28Y

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Thursday, March 2, 2017 - 3:00pm

CAMPAIGN: Together, Creating Sustainable Value


As part of our series on #DisruptMining Innovation, in today’s post we share how we’ve been working with Accenture to create a connected mine.

The accelerating use of internet-enabled remote devices, sensors, predictive analytics and machine learning in the mining industry is providing companies with unprecedented insight into their operations.

While the Internet of Things (IoT) enables better utilization of assets and improved decision making, many companies face the problem of consolidating the data collected from different systems and vendors into one cohesive reporting and control system. As a result, valuable data collected from remote devices is sometimes relegated to “production silos,” rather than incorporated into a company-wide monitoring and reporting platform.

Over the last five years, Goldcorp has been working with Accenture and other technology service providers to develop a digital roadmap to consolidate the flow of information, improve visibility, and optimize workflows, productivity and safety.

“The key to productive, radical innovation at Goldcorp is getting the right information to the right people at the right time,” explains Todd White, Goldcorp’s Chief Operating Officer. “Our innovation strategy is to develop and harness new technologies to improve results in three key areas: exploration, safety and operational efficiency.”

Accenture works closely with Goldcorp’s other service providers to integrate different technology components into a central platform for monitoring, reporting and to gain more responsive control of mine operations. Creating a connected mine, enabled by cloud and IoT technology, provides mine supervisors and head office personnel with real-time visibility and control over the entire production chain from multiple sites. 

“A connected mine uses the concept of ‘data agents’ to capture source information from sensors and devices, then transfers that information into a cloud platform,” says George Long, Accenture’s Senior Manager, Digital Transformation in Mining Projects.  Once in the cloud, data analytics utilizing Microsoft Azure IoT Suite is employed to create a digestible and accessible dashboard of vital information. The system also sends alerts to notify staff when something in the mine deviates from the norm or needs attention.

Accenture’s Digital Twin module test applies “What If” scenarios in a virtual environment to identify the risks and rewards of emerging trends. Machinery scheduling and maintenance, fatigue monitoring and drill and blast enhancements are just a few of the operational areas that benefit from actionable insight and foresight made available when these predictive analytics and machine learning algorithms are applied to real-time and historical data.

“It is a planning tool enabling the company to determine the next best action it should take based on what’s happening today,” says Horacio Vergara, Managing Director of Natural Resources at Accenture Mexico. “This can range from running blasting scenarios to integrating automation. It provides miners with more in-depth training experience by allowing them to see the expected outcome when a change is made to a specific process.”

Luis Canepari, Goldcorp’s Vice President, Technology, believes the biggest impact a connected mine concept will have is in the area of safety. This was the focus of Accenture’s Life Safety Solution (ALSS), a wireless-enabled multi-gas detection system that helps protect workers in potentially hazardous environments, which was installed at Goldcorp’s Cerro Negro mine last year.

The communications and data infrastructure at Cerro Negro, developed collaboratively with Industrial Scientific, Cisco, and AeroScout, integrates Wi-Fi and location-based technologies with multi-gas detectors to remotely monitor people, equipment and air quality in the underground mine. The project involved the installation of a fibre optic network underground along with the adaptation of a Wi-Fi Mesh network. This involved placing multiple wireless mesh nodes throughout the mine that "talk" to each other.

“Having data and telephony services inside the mine allows for more fluid communication and data exchange when needed. This helps planning and operations personnel to quickly share information from their respective work sites to make timely decisions,” states Canepari.

The most notable improvement has been in risk reduction. Previously, standard operating procedure involved waiting two hours after blasting before re-entering the mine to check air conditions.  Now, the ambient conditions within the mine is known immediately, reducing downtime and improving productivity considerably.

Canepari added, “A connected mine solution is just the beginning. Goldcorp is embarking on a Digital Transformation journey to make us more efficient and safer. I’m really excited to be part of it.”

Watch Luis Canepari in Accenture’s Voice of Transformation video: https://youtu.be/oaQo4jIzfAo