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.
Mining applications are just too expensive
It’s true, mining applications can be expensive, looking at an upfront investment of above $10,000/vehicle, excluding the productivity loss associated with downtime.
However, a number of third-party applications have emerged over the last few years. Some come in a ‘light’ version with user-friendly features making it an option to any to install and maintain.
3D-P’s Production and Maintenance Reporting Solution, powered by iVolve is one of them. The solution has provided a cost-effective and scalable production and maintenance solution to numerous sites in North America and Australia, and recently helped digitalization of a quarry in Virginia.
Deployment of a full wireless network just isn’t an option
Beyond the application itself, requirement for a wireless network is critical to fully leverage the benefits of this application.
Depending on the availability of a wireless network, two options are available:
– Either the data is collected and transmitted in real or near-real time, typically requiring deployment of a full coverage wireless network;
– Or the data is collected and stored onboard the vehicle. A mining engineer is then required to stop the vehicle and retrieve the data physically at regular intervals. At this point, the data is outdated and any action that could have been taken to improve productivity or avoid maintenance has been missed. In this instance, the ROI on the application might not be achievable.
There are however alternatives providing smaller operators with the ability to automate collection of their data without the requirement for a full wireless network.
Our operation doesn’t have the budget for such Capex
First time deployment of a mining application can be expensive and not an option for everyone.
Add the application hardware and software costs to the wireless network design, deployment and associated hardware costs. Then add services costs on top of it and account for the production loss during installation of all the hardware. It adds up pretty quickly.
Capital expenditure (Capex) has been the only option available to miners for a long time, preventing many to remain competitive. As Software-as-a-Service is now becoming the norm for software, Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) is becoming an option to miners.
We do not have the resources to support the solution
In smaller operations, resources typically wear more than one hat and often do not have the time to learn new skills to support performance of a new application and the wireless network supporting it.
Hiring additional personnel increases the overall cost and often more than one person is required to cover night, time off and sick leave.
Third party support to the mining industry is now an affordable option, offering support 24/7 by phone and email, while guaranteeing understanding of the industry, and its application and RF requirements.