Inmarsat offers new tool for miners to assess IoT

Image from Inmarsat.

Inmarsat, a leader in global, mobile satellite communications, has released a new research study that confirms the global mining industry is going through an IoT revolution, with significant increases in adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) technology.

Entitled The Rise of IoT in Mining, the report is the third IoT-focused research project undertaken by Inmarsat and focuses on the use of, attitude towards and predictions for IoT across the global mining sector.

As part of the initiative, Inmarsat is also offering mining companies the opportunity to measure their IoT readiness versus its survey respondents, using its free online IoT maturity tool.

Specialist market research company Vanson Bourne was employed by Inmarsat to interview 200 respondents with either decision-making or influencing responsibilities for IoT-related initiatives at organizations with over 500 personnel.

Most organizations (65%) have fully deployed at least one IoT project, while 33% are testing or have testing a project, with only 2% of respondents not having begun an IoT project

Mining organizations reported successes in implementing projects to safeguard workers via remote tracking, monitor drilling, and observe acid mine drainage remotely. However, despite this progress, a range of challenges are hindering the sector’s ability to reap the rewards that IoT has to offer.

According to the research, most organizations (65%) have fully deployed at least one IoT project, while 33% are testing or have testing a project, with only 2% of respondents not having begun an IoT project.

These findings echo the predictions reported in Inmarsat’s 2018 mining research, where only 2% had fully deployed an IoT solution, 29% were testing one and 69% were planning on beginning IoT projects within the next two years.

Noticeably, there is a considerable geographical variance in IoT adoption and maturity across different regions, with 98% of North American respondents having successfully deployed IoT-enabled projects, compared with only 50% in Africa and 38% in South America.

While this increase in full deployments represents progress, the use cases and data management are on the simple side and there are many challenges to overcome if the mining industry is to fully realize the potential of IoT, particularly in regard to using it as driver for organizational change.

A lack of skills, investment and cultural challenges, as well as unreliable connectivity, patchy cybersecurity processes and underdeveloped data management processes were also highlighted in the report and will all need to be remedied in the coming years.

“Two years on from our last research, Inmarsat wanted to get a measure of what had changed in the mining industry,” said Joe Carr, Global Mining Director at Inmarsat.

“IoT has begun to take a foothold in the sector with increased rates of adoption across the board. What we discovered was an industry that, historically slow to adopt radical ideas, is now beginning to embrace the use of IoT, but still working out how to make the most of it.”

The mining industry faces significant challenges around skills, security, connectivity, investment and data management and these will need to be addressed for the industry to progress past a point of using IoT in a simple, siloed capacity.

Despite the challenges being faced, mining organizations are looking to increase their investment in IoT and are overwhelmingly positive about the value that IoT can bring to their operations and the benefits it is either already delivering or will deliver in the future.

Inmarsat’s IoT maturity tool is intended to help miners “plot a route to IoT success,” Carr noted in the release.

“The tool allows miners to understand their progress in IoT adoption across a number of areas and to compare this with the 200 respondents who contributed to our research,” he said.

“Using these findings, miners can start to develop a roadmap for improvement and provide a tangible proof point for influencing internal conversations.”

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)

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