Digital solutions for the mining industry

The best way for the mining companies to confront the major challenges such as declining ore grades, safety concerns and volatile commodity prices is to improve operational excellence and embrace technological advances and innovations. Cutting-edge solutions are the way forward, and that means to define sustainable enterprise digital architecture, select appropriate technologies and ensure seamless integration.

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Our approach: Minerals Digital Architecture

Although individual systems are expected to generate gains by themselves, only a proper integration of those technologies can unleash the full potential of digital transformation. Based on this principle, Siemens has developed a holistic architecture concept to support mining customers to implement digital solutions, with a strong focus on eliminating data silos and increasing collaboration across different departments such as engineering, operations, planning and maintenance. The ultimate target is to create a fully integrated ecosystem, based on the following pillars: 

  • Vertical Integration from field level to enterprise management level
  • Horizontal Integration from engineering to operations
  • Continuous improvement process enhanced by digital applications

Decades of experience of electrification and automation in Mining and Cement industries and deep understanding of state-of-art digital technologies equip Siemens to be a reliable partner to accompany mining and cement customers throughout the digital transformation, starting from consultancy of approaches and architecture to implementation of customized projects.  

SIMINE Portfolio for mining digitalization

To optimize throughput times and guarantee requested quality output, storage and transport systems are an important part of advanced facilities for the transfer of bulk materials. What’s more: With an unmanned operation of stackers, reclaimers, and combined machines, you can achieve higher performance, increased accuracy, full utilization of the stockpile area, and optimized energy consumption compared to manned operation.

 

Our advanced automation solutions secure autonomous operation of your stackers and reclaimers. Thus, they help to reduce your operational costs and achieve a smoother and safer operation with less wear and tear of the mechanical parts of the equipment. The core element of the management system is the stockpiles 3D model with a record of both quantity and quality of materials. The model is updated regularly with data delivered by stackers and reclaimers. 

 

You also benefit from higher safety as all staff work is performed remotely: After working area and parameters for each job are specified, the details are calculated automatically and approved by the operator – then the job is transferred to the equipment. The rest is automatic. To prevent collisions and therefore equipment outages, the stockpile equipment comes with a protection system that uses data were delivered by sensors. 

Securing availability of critical mining equipment is of utmost importance for mining companies to remain competitive in business, while improving asset utilization is usually a cost-effective way to increase productivity and material throughput.

 

Smart Mining is a web-based platform focused on increasing availability and utilization of mining assets. It provides a set of valuable decision support for operation and maintenance teams, based on a unique combination of cutting-edge technologies like cloud computing, artificial intelligence and online simulation with extensive know-how in mining operations.

 

The system is capable of perform comprehensive asset health analytics on critical mining equipment such as mills and belt conveyors and inform operators in advance of upcoming changes and anomalies in equipment behavior as well as respective counter measures to support effective maintenance that mitigates failures and avoid unexpected production downtimes.

 

Smart Mining can also connect with state of art simulation models and provide additional insights to operational and planning teams. A built-in digital twin model for belt conveyors simulates the interaction between belt conveyor mechanics and electrical drive, allowing for validation of control logics as well as evaluation upfront of equipment performance under different loading scenarios.

Productivity and operational excellence are key to stay competitive in the minerals industry. For this, modern information technology offers new possibilities: Leading minerals companies globally are continually investing in state-of-the-art IT technologies in order to increase mineral levels with lower personnel and operational costs.

 

For greater flexibility, improved decision-making, shorter system downtime and less unproductive hours, we provide you with Minerals Operations Management Solution, a highly modular MES solution, specifically designed to handle the complexity of mining operations.

 

You gain comprehensive transparency along your entire value chain and at all facilities, e.g. from the mines to the railway and port facilities. In concrete terms, operating performance indicators from across all sites can be displayed and compared to each other. 

 

To make this possible, our solutions can process a large amount of real-time data and serving thousands of users simultaneously. 

 

The high level of integration with automation systems reduces unproductive hours, as data are provided immediately and reliably and less manual work like typing is required.

 

Additionally, a single source of truth allows the standardization of concepts, workflows, and indicators in different units of the company. All operational expertise of these units will be gathered in a digital database, facilitating the replication of the best practices and internal benchmarking.

Mining in the 21st century

Digitalization is the key

Tumbling commodity prices, declining global demand, rising safety and security risks: The global mining industry faces major challenges while needing to meet mounting stakeholder expectations. In order to stay competitive, companies have to become leaner, stronger, and more innovative. In this context, digitalization plays a crucial role by offering new possibilities to increase productivity – and operational excellence.

How to optimize operational excellence today

In the past, enhancing operational excellence in the mining industry often meant cutting costs. Today, modern technology opens up new ways to set new benchmarks in productivity. Leading mining companies all over the world rely on state-of-the-art automation, energy, and drilling systems to increase mining intensity with reduced personnel and energy costs. Some of them are able to achieve energy savings of 10 to 40% through renewable energy installations, innovative energy technologies, and highly automated mining processes.

Long-standing expertise in the mining industry

Our products for the mining industry are based on proven standards and tailored to the specific demands of your industry. Like those of our system platform Minerals Automation Standard, they offer maximum ease of use as well as a clear and well-conceived design.

Streamlining operations: MES

Productivity and operational excellence are key to stay competitive in the minerals industry. For this, modern information technology offers new possibilities: Leading minerals companies globally are continually investing in state-of-the-art IT technologies in order to increase mineral levels with lower personnel and operational costs.

For greater flexibility, improved decision-making, shorter system downtime and less unproductive hours, we provide you with tailor-made MES (Manufacturing Execution System) solutions. You gain comprehensive transparency along your entire value chain and at all facilities, e.g. from the mines to the railway and port facilities. In concrete terms, operating performance indicators from across all sites can be displayed and compared to each other. To make this possible, our MES solutions are capable of processing a large amount of real-time data and serving thousands of users simultaneously. The high level of integration with automation systems reduces unproductive hours, as data are provided immediately and reliably and less manual work like typing is required. Additionally, a single system allows the standardization of concepts, workflows, and indicators in different units of the company. All operational expertise of these units will be gathered in a digital database, facilitating the replication of the best practices and internal benchmarking.

Increasing productivity: stockpile management system

To optimize throughput times and guarantee requested quality output, storage and transport systems are an important part of advanced facilities for the transfer of bulk materials. What’s more: With an unmanned operation of stackers, reclaimers, and combined machines, you can achieve higher performance, increased accuracy, full utilization of the stockpile area, and optimized energy consumption compared to manned operation.

Our advanced automation solutions secure autonomous operation of your stackers and reclaimers. Thus, they help to reduce your operational costs and achieve a smoother and safer operation with less wear and tear of the mechanical parts of the equipment. The core element of the management system is the stockpiles 3D model with a record of both quantity and quality of materials. The model is updated regularly with data delivered by stackers and reclaimers. You also benefit from higher safety as all staff work is performed remotely: After working area and parameters for each job are specified, the details are calculated automatically and approved by the operator – then the job is transferred to the equipment. The rest is automatic. To prevent collisions and therefore equipment outages, the stockpile equipment comes with a protection system that uses data were delivered by sensors. Thanks to this collision protection system, there have been no incidents reported since Siemens solutions are implemented more than eight years ago.

Optimizing conveyor belt systems: simulation and digital twin

With decreasing erection phases, there is no time to waste in the construction and design of open-pit mines – particularly when it comes to dimensioning belt conveyor systems. But to reveal the dynamic behavior of the whole system and to explore and improve how the individual belt conveyor components work together, it needs more than the common calculation methods.

That’s why we work with digital simulation tools to develop your new systems as well as to study the behavior and interaction of the belt conveyor mechanics and drive solution in your existing systems: By means of simulation, it is possible to investigate changes, influences, and consequences in the system performance during modernization. We use the simulation results internally for planning and commissioning the drive solutions, or provide them to potential operators or system builders. Simulation simplifies the selection of the suitable drive solution and controller in order to optimize the operational and productivity ratios. In greenfield projects, engineers have the information they need to decide, for example, whether a drive solution with a hydraulic coupling is sufficient, or whether a drive solution with a frequency converter is more suitable. Simulation also allows improvements to be made in system operation and to minimize the idle time.

Maintaining highest availability: Asset Health Analytics

Availability is the basis for a productive mining business. Equipment failures or losses in performance have to be avoided by all means. And that’s where our digital asset health management comes in: It is basically consisting of the enrichment of condition monitoring systems with analytic and predictive functionalities as well as self-learning abilities. Its purpose is to recognize long-term changes to the general condition of mission-critical mining applications during their operational lifetime and to accordingly derive specific recommendations for conducting maintenance tasks in time.

Our asset health and performance management is generally based on a productive combination of high-end data infrastructure for data acquisition, and preprocessing, analytical tools, and methodology. The full potential of the above may be leveraged through digitalized services and lifecycle service packages. Your benefits include detection of problems at an early stage of their development as well as precise diagnosis for support in effective maintenance.

Improving operational excellence

Our operations intelligence software  collects, analyzes and presents operational and business data, thereby enabling real-time performance management, and decision support – for better productivity and competitiveness. This data transparency can help mining companies optimize their entire supply chain, and, where necessary, rethink their operating model. For example, how to deal with secondary processes. Whether they should keep, sell, or expand their water treatment, power generation, etc. Or whether they should consider a greater collaboration with their business partners, including shared infrastructures.

Process control system for mining requirements

Minerals Automation Standard is based on SIMATIC PCS 7, our open, flexible, and scalable distributed control system (DCS) designed to ensure highest productivity and reliability. With its integrated safety, industrial-security, and energy management concept, it combines all of the requirements needed to protect humans, machinery and the environment – and paves the way to the digital enterprise. The integrated Advanced Process Library (APL) offers the best route for gaining higher operational, and engineering efficiency. As such, it also paves the way to enhanced competitiveness in the mining industry. Get information on Minerals Automation Standard. 

References

Examples of excellence in mining digitalization

Take a look at our references and use case examples, and see for yourself how you can improve the availability and energy efficiency across your entire process chain.
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