Digging up the data: IoT in the mining industry
When you hear the word "mining," you may not automatically think about advanced technology. After all, mining is largely grunt work and manual labor. Of course, there are vehicles, elevators, trucks and other heavy machinery involved in mining operations, but none of these have typically been considered hi-tech.
Until now. The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of connected devices that gather data and transmit it via the internet. It's being applied to virtually every field, from agriculture and health care to entertainment and hospitality. Mining is no exception, and with good reason. Let's have a look at a few ways IoT is being deployed in this primary sector of the economy.
Previously the stuff of science-fiction, automated machinery that doesn't require a driver or operator is a reality at last. As Mining Technology explains, autonomous drills and driverless trucks are powered by smart sensors that evaluate their environment and control the machine accordingly. The information these vehicles and tools gather is also transmitted to human controllers who can change and improve mining operations based on that data.
Wearable and attachable devices
Many of us are already familiar with wearable devices such as smart watches, but this kind of tech can extend far beyond ordinary or civilian applications. Smart wearables can monitor mine employees' heart rate, temperature and even blood oxygen saturation and alert workers when they're overheating or overexerting themselves, suggesting when to take breaks.
This technology can also be used to monitor and track staff members' locations, which is particularly useful on mining sites, given the enormous scale of workable land. These sensors can be attached to equipment, too, allowing managers and supervisors to find required personnel and assets quickly and easily.
Predictive equipment maintenance
Similar to how wearable IoT devices can notify employees when they're too hot or overworked, connected gadgets can also be fixed onto machines to track their internal temperature and output rate. These numbers can then be used to determine when hardware needs maintenance, either immediately or in the near future. This ability to perform upkeep before a machine breaks down or otherwise fails is critical to ensuring the mine and its staff are safe.
IoT can perform a wide range of actions when it comes to the blasting necessary to begin excavations. Sensors can collect intel about above and below-ground conditions that can reveal whether a site is suitable for blasting. Once an area has been blasted, similar tech can measure levels of dust, toxic fumes and other hazardous materials or substances in the area to establish when it's safe for miners to enter the mine and begin working.
Perle Systems is paving the way in safety
At Perle Systems, we understand the need to balance worker well-being with peak operational output. That's why we offer a wide array of products — from parallel cards to industrial switches — that improve employees' health and safety and equipment's performance. From health care to industrial automation, our hardware can be used in virtually any industry.