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Microdata centers critical for the Digital Transformation of the mining industry

Microdata centers critical for the Digital Transformation of the mining industry

Data CentresDigital TransformationEnergyTop Stories

The use of microdata centers in the Digital Transformation of the mining industry will allow better processing and storage of information in real-time.

Many industries are in processes of modernization, digitization and transformation that are being widely implemented, showing rapid growth and development within each productive sector.

This evolution is part of what we call the Fourth Industrial Revolution, also known as Industry 4.0, allowing a better implementation of new technologies focused not only on the Internet of Things (IoT) but also on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

This new concept of IIoT includes sensors, equipment, instruments and autonomous devices that are connected to industrial applications through the Internet, making them part of a company’s production process. The pandemic caused by COVID-19 also helped IoT to be implemented in many industries to upturn the economy.

A research report by the EY consultancy, released in May 2021, revealed that 55% of companies increased their investment in Digital Transformation to digitize and be part of Industry 4.0 in its entirety.

Mining in full transformation

The mining industry is modernizing its methods to provide greater productivity, efficiency and speed through the digitization of processes. All this will allow companies to reduce production costs and maximize quality levels.

A study from last year by Vanson Bourne, a specialized technology consultancy, indicates that 70% of the world’s top 100 mining companies that are using IIoT suggest that these changes will be critical for companies in this field to be more competitive, increase their market share and visualize the inefficiencies and cost savings that its use can provide.

The entire process of the mining industry can generate more than 2.5 TBs of information per minute, so it is essential to process and analyze this data in real-time so that those in charge (operators or supervisors) can make better decisions.

Through IIoT sensors and high-speed image processing, it is possible to identify before the end of the process if a product will be manufactured according to the required quality standards, causing cost savings.

Hernán Neirotti, Director of Business Development of the Secure Energy Unit for South America, Schneider Electric, said: “Digitalization positively affects production and operations processes, which allows, for example, the improvement of the accuracy of forecasts through the optimization of inventories, costs and materials.

“It also helps to reduce engineering costs through the implementation of digital twins and the reduction of costs associated with production drops, reduction of non-quality costs, among others.”

For the Colombian Mining Association, for example, digitalization plays an important role since it makes the real-time location of people, vehicles and equipment easier through sensors and interconnected mobile devices which generates safer operation, traffic control, emergency management and online data availability for decision making.

Towards a digitized mining sector

Thanks to digitization, precision and effectiveness in mining processes, it is possible to have a deeper analysis of the information generated by each method. But to do so, companies must consider some challenges, especially those related to physical security and cybersecurity, handling Big Data, the initial investment in equipment and sensors for IIoT, and process integration.

Another challenge would be working only with a cloud-based data center, as latency can directly affect production.

“Delays in response times from central data centers can cause problems of all kinds in industrial applications, creating loss of productivity and money. But this situation is solved by implementing Industrial Edge solutions to manage applications locally,” said Neirotti.

The architecture that the executive recommends is decentralized microdata centers located at the edge or the data source. Edge computers connect to a larger data center – either regional, cloud-based, or both simultaneously – allowing information to be processed and stored for local action and real-time decision making. Then, depending on what the IT expert says, they can replicate the data from the microdata centers to the upper data center.

“The basic imperative in mining businesses is sustainability, decarbonization, the best use of resources and the maximization of profitability. Through our IIoT Platform and technology solutions, our team of experts facilitates solutions. Therefore, our cybersecurity solutions and the necessary IT infrastructure also allow us to manage information securely,” said Neirotti.

IIoT solutions enable automation, power and digitally integrated processes to build a sustainable mining and metals business. The digitization of the mining industry is a reality and this is a fundamental requirement to achieve its future growth.

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