3D-P works with a diverse, wide variety of clients – large to small, quarries to mines to airports, located all over the world – and during my tenure it has been very interesting to note both the differences, and commonalities between the clients and the diverse solutions we employ.
For example, no matter the industry, we can always apply the 3D-P pillars of successful network design:
- Understand the environment – geographically, culturally, and technologically
- Design for the application – now, and for the future
- Bring the best solution forward – best for the customer, not for us
Those are the common pillars we can use to build a stable, high-performing network for any customer, regardless of their size, industry, or application. The conversation then becomes one that can be different for every customer:
How can they best, most cost-effectively support that network?
Whether you are identifying and fixing coverage issues, or trying to measure the performance of your wireless network the current set of tools available to you can be expensive, lacking in functionality, or extremely time consuming. 3D-P’s Managed Services offering of Network Performance Analysis Toolkit (NPAT) as a service aims to help you understand your wireless network performance by providing you and your team with a powerful map based visualization of key network performance indicators without needing to buy additional software.
Cost, onsite support and inability to justify short-term ROI have all contributed to the incapability of many smaller operators to invest in the deployment of near real-time applications on-board their mobile equipment.
Add the cost of the application- whether be dispatch, asset health, etc. – to the cost of deploying and maintaining a full scale wireless network, and many are unable to justify the ROI on their project, and remain stuck in the manual collection of their data.
We will examine the traditional limitations faced by smaller operators in this quest towards the Digital Mine, before discussing over the next few weeks how each of those limitations can be tackled, quickly and cost-effectively.
In its 2017 report titled ‘Digital in Mining: Progress … and Opportunity’, Accenture reported that “56% [of mines were] considering merging their IT and OT groups within the next 12 months’. While significant progress has been achieved, the two groups are still learning to work together at most sites to address common issues around wireless network reliability, mobile data access and cybersecurity among others.
The distinct functions each group is accountable for has a lot to do with this difficult merge. It’s however critical to review the silver lining in converging IT and OT when it comes to the digital mine – enhanced productivity through real time data access provided by a reliable wireless network and reduced technology Capex.
With an increasing number of mines in the process of digital transformation, reliability of your wireless network is becoming paramount. Real time or near real-time data access to fleet data is now a requirement for mines of all sizes, and failure of those wireless networks isn’t only critical for autonomous sites.
We will discuss here five examples of how network downtime, even in a non-autonomous environment, can affect your productivity by impacting a variety of business units within your mine.
Over the years, I’ve had several customers who were looking for network enhancements explain to me the value of the data they pull from their fleet equipment. While in most cases, hardware failure of a radio or computer on-board a truck or a shovel doesn’t prevent that equipment from moving ore, it certainly brings to a rapid halt the collection of the critical data associated with that activity.
Missing those loads in the productivity counts for the shift isn’t an option. In my customers’ view, that application data was just as critical as the physical material moved.
We all have been through this, looking for direction. No matter if it’s driving the family to a new vacation destination or utilizing technology in mine operations to improve efficiency and safety. It’s all the same, we are looking for direction.