Striking Operational Paydirt: Mobile Technology in Mining
Mining safety professionals are looking to ditch paper-based forms, checklists, and an overall lack of technology for new ways to improve safety through data collection and analysis. Data-driven mobile technology is allowing the mining industry to identify processes that can be refined, improve asset maintenance and utilization, relay and display information more efficiently, and make it easier to prove regulatory safety compliance. These measures lead to more informed business decisions that enhance overall safety and increase productivity while lowering capital and maintenance costs.
Mining has long been considered one of the world’s most high-risk professions, and gold mining, in particular, has a variety of unique safety concerns. While today’s gold mining operations are dramatically safer than they’ve ever been, especially in the U.S, miners still face many health hazards, injuries, and fatalities prevalent in goldmines around the world, many of which are the result of preventable incidents.
As the industry changes and experiences falling commodity prices, cost inflation, and lower ore grades, many of today’s mining corporations are under tremendous financial pressure. In addition, fines and sanctions are becoming costly for operations lacking electronic documentation of their inspection and audit results. Newer, more stringent government regulations are emerging and evolving in countries all over the world, and they’re all requiring safety documentation and proof of compliance to be consistently current and available. Paper-based forms, checklists, and documents just don’t cut it anymore. That’s why new technology, mobile devices, and apps are the perfect tools for mining site safety leaders. Companies are improving safety and productivity simply by arming mining operations with mobile data collection platforms and enabling them to access and utilize the power of technology and data.
Mining companies that are implementing technological innovation, software, automation, and mobile devices are investing in the long-term digital future of mining. Mobile technologies are helping organize and improve safety checks, site audits, asset inspections and management, process audits, automated CAPA, and workflows. They’re finding and fixing problems before they happen, leading to fewer accidents, greater productivity, and less downtime. Some are even leveraging data to help them locate mineral deposits and optimal drill locations without the costly expense of hiring a third-party geologist. It’s no secret that the next big driver of gold mining safety, efficiency, and productivity will be the analysis of Big Data. Data collected from drills, trucks, processing plants, and trains allows for faster and more informed decision-making at all levels of ore extraction, transportation, and processing.
Data can be used to generate predictive models that identify and prevent safety hazards, bottlenecks, and waste patterns before they lead to any injuries, illnesses, or operational slow-down. It is also being used to extend equipment life. By analyzing machine patterns and trends, companies can use data to predict when tools, equipment, and vehicles are most likely to fail and perform preventative maintenance before an accident or breakdown can occur. In the end, forward-thinking companies that have invested in the tools and technology they need to start gathering and utilizing data will be the ones that flourish as the gold mining industry moves into the future.