What does digital transformation look like in the mining sector?
The current mining landscape
Many industries have already undergone a significant Digital Transformation; implementing emerging technologies to improve business processes, productivity and deliver a range of additional benefits. The Mining Industry is currently at a much earlier stage in its Digital Transformation journey. According to Rockwell Automation’s recent industry research most mines are in the ‘pre-implementation phase of their journey’ with only 10% having completed one digital implementation.
Part of the reason behind this is undoubtedly the challenges of delivering connectivity in a mining environment. Deep and awkward underground spaces are difficult places to install connectivity. Up until this point the focus of any connectivity system has needed to be on delivering mission critical communications to ensure safety in a mining environment. Reliability and robustness have been at the heart of connectivity requirements and at RFS we have worked with a number of customers and partners to deliver this at numerous sites.
However, there is definitely a move to Digital Transformation in the sector. We are seeing an increase in the need for systems to support data-based applications that can support private wireless for business critical connectivity, in addition to traditional mission critical systems. This means providing support for a number of major technology categories including WiFi 5/6, TETRA P25, LoRaWAN Sigfox, 4.9G/LTE and 5G that will form a key part of many Digital Transformation journeys in the sector.
Providing mission critical communication systems for our mining customers will continue to be a significant part of what we offer at RFS, however, as more sectors benefit from Digital Transformation, it is important mining also seizes the opportunity. Implementing robotics to tackle riskier tasks, using sensors and AI to identify areas where efficiency can be improved, connecting the workforce to enable knowledge sharing and support – these are just a few examples of what can be achieved with digitalization. They are transformational technologies and the key to unlocking them is connectivity. Each element relies on connectivity to function to its full potential and as we discussed delivering that connectivity in a mining environment is no small task.
Although most mining organizations are still in the fact-finding stage of what Digital Transformation looks like for them, the first step for most will have to be building connectivity infrastructure. It gives a foundation on which to build virtually any digitalization project with the flexibility to change if the initial results of the application do not drive the efficiency they were looking for. Getting that right in the first instance, gives whatever digital transformation they choose the greatest probability of success.
Digital Transformation will have a significant impact on the mining industry over the next 10 years, driving huge benefits for those in the space. Because RFS has such a long heritage in delivering connectivity in the mining sector, we have developed solutions that are specifically designed to meet the safety needs of different regions across the globe and deliver connectivity needed for digitalization. As the mining industry looks to use emerging technologies, industry 4.0 and other data driven applications, RFS is ready to help overcome the connectivity challenges they face, allowing them to take full advantage of the opportunity presented by Digital Transformation.