Industrial internet of things in the mining industry
In our digitally connected world, technology is increasingly impacting and driving most industrial sectors, including mining. Across these industries, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is growing in prominence, with an expanding array of objects communicating, exchanging data and functioning autonomously.
A key development in IIoT is the use of sensors to collect large amounts of data from mining equipment, which is subsequently analysed and transformed into actionable insights for operators.
In an industry that depends on the efficiency and reliability of their assets, this delivers a number of benefits including improved performance and productivity and the avoidance of unplanned downtime.
As a market leader in the mining engineering industry, Weir recognised this trend several years ago. After nearly 150 years of making customers more efficient, the company developed Synertrex®, their own IIoT platform. A synthesis of technology, innovation, expertise and knowledge, Synertrex® was developed to make optimal performance a reality.
HOW IIoT BENEFITS THE MINING SECTOR
While IIoT usage within the mining industry is still in its early stages, a 2017 Inmarsat study found that 12% of mining respondents have already fully or partially implemented IIoT based solutions into their operations. Furthermore, the World Economic Forum predicts that in the period 2016-2025, digital transformation could impact the mining industry by between $428 billion and $784 billion.
Such an ambitious prediction seems justified when the benefits of IIoT to the resources sector are considered.
Productivity is a key advantage. IIoT platforms such as Synertrex® can provide fact-based insights that allow operators to optimise equipment performance and increase throughput. Predictive maintenance helps detect problems so equipment can be repaired before it fails, saving money through the reduction of unplanned downtime while increasing safety.
Weir’s Synertrex® platform delivers these advantages, and more. Its draws upon Weir’s expert knowledge and expertise, as well as that of their technology partners Dell and Microsoft. Using critical operating data to generate fact-based insights, customers can monitor their equipment anywhere, anytime.
At this point in time, the portfolio of Synertrex® enabled products within the platform includes Warman® pumps, Cavex® hydrocyclones, GEHO® PD pumps, Enduron® HPGR, Enduron® screens and Enduron® crushers.
THE SYNERTREX® DIFFERENCE
While not the first IIoT platform to target the mining industry, Synertrex® aims to transcend existing offerings and take Weir’s ability to service customers to the next level. A combination of expertise, thought leadership and differentiation distinguishes Weir’s Synertrex® platform from competitors in this space.
Whereas many other mining based IIoT solutions leverage other suppliers platforms, Synertrex® is unique in that Weir has developed their own solution, providing the ability to quickly develop and release a product application. Weir has developed the Synertrex® platform as a highly specific augmentation of their key products, as opposed to creating a generic platform that can support many different companies and products. Embedding their application engineering expertise in an IIoT platform allows Weir to extend their service further and be closer to the customer, with engineers and technicians ready to follow up on any alerts generated by Synertrex® platform.
The advantage of creating a modular platform means that it can support a variety of users from novice to expert. Its user-friendly interface is compatible with PCs, smartphones and tablets and can be integrated into existing control systems for ultimate accessibility.
The Synertrex® platform allows users to gain an advanced understanding of how their equipment is functioning, from detecting cavitation in Warman® pumps to monitoring the drive train of Enduron® HPGRs.
Comprised of a combination of hardware and software, the Synertrex® platform utilises the most advanced technology from market leaders including Microsoft and Dell. Weir has industrialised and ruggedised this equipment to create a configuration that is suitable for its customers’ specific industries and applications. Possessing this high degree of flexibility has allowed Weir to provide customers with targeted solutions at a competitive cost point.
Another point of difference is the Synertrex® platform’s implementation of edge computing. This enables the provision of alerts in real time, and circumvents issues with data transmission if there is a break in connectivity. A significant amount of operational data is analysed and summarised on the edge, which reduces the need to transmit large quantities of information to the cloud. Any anomalies are flagged and sent to the cloud for further analysis, resulting in increased cost efficiency from a data viewpoint.
The analytical capabilities of edge computing combined with the almost infinite storage capacity of the cloud enables the Synertrex® solution to capture more data than ever before. Increased data results in more powerful, in-depth insights that provide its customers with meaningful information as to how they can improve their equipment, processes and plants.
Alasdair Monk, Group IoT Product Management Director remarks “Synertrex has been a huge advancement for Weir, it’s positioned us where we can go to market with a portfolio of products which few, if any of our direct competitors have at this point in time. I believe we are part of significant change in the mining industry and broader world, from a digital perspective, and that puts us in a very good position to build and grow.”
Helping to make customers more efficient since 1871, Synertrex exemplifies Weir’s continual commitment to innovation. With its unique ability to adapt to the mining industry’s dynamic needs, there is little doubt that IIoT will play a significant role in shaping the sector’s future.
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