There have been many advances in underground mining technology, and mines are using them to improve safety, productivity, and more. They have tech for automation, a collision avoidance system, workforce tracking, and more. The mines that are leveraging this technology are ahead of the game, and they find their operations more cost-effective, safer, and more productive. Take a look at the top six types of underground mining technology.
- GPS Technology
GPS technologies are making a big difference in underground mining operations. Mines can use them on blasthole drills and electric cable shovels, and they will produce 3-D images of the tracks of the shovel or the drill bit location. The operators can see everything, which allows them to guide the drill or maintain the grade of the shovel. This allows miners to be more accurate in their work and see what they are doing. In the past, they had to go in blind, but today, they have data available that allows them to pinpoint their operations.
- Collision Avoidance System
A collision avoidance system is very useful for underground mining. It is able to alert the operator of the machinery of the location of any vehicles, obstacles, or people so that the operator can avoid collisions. This type of system can analyze the interactions between vehicles and people, and it can alert the machine operator of the details about the vehicles and obstacles, such as the type, position, and distance. This technology helps to make mining safer and improves productivity.
- Workforce Tracking
Another area where technology has advanced is in wearables, which allow workforce tracking. Miners can wear these devices when they are working in the mines, and this improves care and safety for all workers. Everyone has real-time visibility of the underground worker, and they can always locate them right away. They can also use this technology to determine where productivity can be improved. In addition, this technology can monitor the job attendance and time records of employees, which allows for more accuracy as well.
Another great underground mining technology advance is automation. The first autonomous mining vehicle was introduced in 2008, and this allowed for much greater productivity. People can communicate with machinery remotely, and this allows them to work in areas that are too dangerous for people. They have remotely controlled cameras and tools, so people can work as if they are there while avoiding the hazards. New technology includes autonomous mining systems, which are able to perform tasks without a lot of external control, and they are working on using robotics for full automation in the future. This technology is one of the most important for improving safety, productivity, and efficiency in underground mining.
- Digital Twins
Digital twins are virtual copies of physical places, processes, and systems. They use AI, machine learning, and software to create a simulation of what is happening underground. For operators they look at the digital twin on a screen, but it feels like they are there in the actual space. This allows them to look for any parts of the operation that are lacking, and they can focus on those spaces. They can track performance, optimize the maintenance of physical assets, and they improve the productivity of the entire operation because they can do everything in real-time.
- Wireless Monitoring
Although many underground mining technologies are in place, mines are beginning to move towards replacing cables with wireless monitoring. In the past, miners would go underground, gather data, and return to the office. However, by the time they arrived, the data they had collected was already outdated. Circumstances can change quickly underground, which is why wireless monitoring helps. They will be able to connect a series of sensors to measure water pressure and other elements. It lowers the cost because assets are easier to maintain, and there is no need for heavy-duty, expensive cabling.