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The Future of Mining: Smart Mines and The IIoT

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The Future of Mining: Smart Mines and The IIoT


The world is changing, becoming more and more complex each day. The population is increasing, energy prices are rising, there is a constant demand for new and faster technologies at a lower cost which needs to have less impact on the earth’s resources.

Navigating this new world landscape can be a tricky road to walk, especially for the mining industry that both has to answer to, and provide answers for, this new world way of being.

Thankfully mining has risen to the challenge, with new tools and technologies that are already having a significant impact on the industry - generating solutions to sustainability, efficiency, productivity, safety, and overall profitability in mining.

One of the biggest and most advantageous developments in mining has been the adoption of IIoT.


The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

Firstly, the Internet of Things (IoT) connects physical devices, which are embedded with electronics, internet connectivity, and other forms of hardware, to one another across the internet. These devices can communicate and interact with one another while being remotely monitored and controlled.

In the mining industry, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is an extension of this to the heavy machines, vehicles, equipment, and devices used throughout a mine site.

The connectivity of these devices, machines, vehicles, and equipment allows for advanced data collection, exchange, and analysis. This is then relayed back to software at the mine site to show a clear picture of the entire mining operation as it takes place in real-time.

Having all of these insights allows sites to optimise and even automate many of their processes and operations.

IIoT can be used throughout the value chain of mining from worker and equipment safety, to vehicle monitoring and tracking, to machine learning and robotics.

Done remotely and in real-time via a number of sensors or devices, mines can transform expensive, inefficient, or hazardous processes that are normally done manually or mechanical into digital ones. Making operations more efficient, safer, profitable, and sustainable.

At Howden we work in partnership with the world leaders in IIoT offering you an all-encompassing approach to your equipment and processes optimisation.
From invaluable insights that can save you time and costs, to tools that help design and monitor your processes - Read more about Howden’s Digital Solutions.


IIoT & Smart Mines

The mining sector combines advanced scientific analysis with the brute force of heavy machinery and manpower to uncover the most in-demand and essential minerals on earth.

Mining is therefore perhaps the industry that faces the highest consequences for error, in terms of both human safety, and extreme profitability.

Now, with IIoT and advanced technologies the mining industry can reduce risk throughout the value chain and increase productivity and sustainability by becoming what is considered a ‘smart mine’.

These smart mines will use the IIoT to collect large amounts of data which is then analysed and turned into actionable insights - delivering huge amounts of benefits including improved performance, productivity, and the reduction of unplanned downtime.

For example;

IIoT can easily monitor site equipment and its performance
Using sensors, devices, and other hardware the IIoT can gather an abundance of data on how equipment is performing. Using this data to then discover more cost-efficient ways of running operations.

IIoT can help mines reduce downtime
Using the data collected the IIoT will help sites predict when equipment needs maintenance, which can then be used to prevent any cases of unexpected downtime resulting in cost savings and increased safety.

Not only that, but IIoT can remove human error and risk
IIoT can enable AI technologies to understand and identify any changes or errors that require intervention and in some cases can autonomously fix it without the need for human presence. IIoT can remove the aspect of human indecision or error when faced with a high-pressure situation such as an emergency by making an improved and fast-decision based on all of the data.

For example, monitoring mine ventilation and toxicity levels through sensors on equipment throughout the mine site and then being able to automatically adjust the levels back to safety without the risk to human life. Failing that it can predict and alert errors, in either case, increasing both safety and efficiency.

Here at Howden we have worked in partnership with the world leaders in IIoT to offer you an all-encompassing approach to your mining solutions of safety and sustainability: Howden VentSim and Howden Uptime

technology in mining

Howden Mining Software: VentSim & Howden Uptime

VentSim CONTROL is designed to permit the integration of cutting-edge sensor and tracking technology while taking into account safety and operational concerns from real-world application at mines.

VentSim™ CONTROL utilizes intelligent software connected to hardware devices to remotely monitor, control and automate airflow, heating and cooling to deliver safer, more productive and lower cost ventilation for your mine.

In brief, VentSim CONTROL software has been developed in an environment of world-class safety and mining technology, bringing the customer the benefits of years of expertise in Ventilation on Demand.

VentSim DESIGN is an underground mine ventilation simulation software package designed to model and simulate ventilation, airflows, pressures, heat, gases, financials, radon, fire, and many other types of ventilation data all within a rich visual 3D simulation of your mine.

VentSim DESIGN creates an accurate 3D simulation of your ventilation environment with real-time animated graphics that represent the actual airways all with animated real-time airflows and fans. This allows for a life-like impression that easily shows the complexities of the mine more efficiently.

Used as an expert tool useful in all stages of ventilation design, from assessing needs and selecting hardware during planning, to the ongoing optimisation of everyday operations in a working mine.

VentSim is now licensed to over 2700 mine sites, consultants, universities, governments, and research agencies around the world and is considered the leading underground ventilation package, providing ease of use in addition to its numerous practical features.

Howden Uptime is a unique and innovation platform for gathering, interpreting and analysing any kind of rotating equipment data. It provides a single access point giving you a unified view of your rotating equipment's health allowing proactive and preemptive action to be taken to avoid equipment failure.

Investing in IIoT technology, such as Howden’s VentSim and Howden’s Uptime can enhance safety, increase productivity and efficiency, all while reducing costs, downtime, and expenditures.


Find out more about this amazing technology and what Howden can do to give your mine the best advantage - VentSim Mining Software


Using Technologies In Mines

From adopting automation and digital technologies mining operators will gain a deeper understanding of their site, resources, and operations. Reducing uncertainty, optimising operations, anticipating issues, enhancing safety, increasing fuel efficiency, and ultimately saving money.

Seen as an investment over time which builds a culture of advanced thinking and innovation helping drive sustainable mining in the future.

We have been designing our mining management software programmes since 1993, now licensed to over 2700 sites around the world, let us show you what we can do for you - Download the VentSim brochure.


Article Date

Thursday, 02 April 2020



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