Wearables — clothing, gear and other accessories incorporating computer and advanced electronic equipment — are evolving into important tools in the mining industry, driven by a combination of technological progress and market demand, according to data analysis company Global Data.
As declining ore reserves push mines to greater depths and to remote locations, some companies are testing wearables to see how they can help cut costs, decrease risk and drive productivity.
Global Data’s latest report, ‘Wearable Tech in Mining – Thematic Research’, explores how wearables will be the next big consumer technology, with their impact similar to that of the smartphone.
The leading wearable tech trends in the mining industry:
Minimizing workplace injuries is one of the most important aspects of wearable technology.
Wearable technologies such as smart helmets can be employed to assess the health and wellbeing of workers.
US-based Guardhat has developed a smart helmet that features sensors that can detect workers’ safety in their immediate surroundings.
A major aspect of wearable technology is to maintain equipment and inspect signs of failure to minimize downtime.
In case of critical issues, technicians require an expert’s help, but bringing experts from onshore offices to offshore mines increases the overall expenses and time for the inspection and repairing of equipment.
Smart glasses or smart helmets could be useful in reducing the time and cost it takes to inspect and repair equipment. Wireless connectivity can also assist a field engineer to receive expert guidance in real time.
Wearable technology can be used to efficiently track the workforce during mine operations.
Using location-based technologies and wireless connectivity, the device can feed a worker’s real-time location to the onshore monitoring center, and in case of emergencies, quickly remove workers from hazardous unforeseen events.
Canadian-based K4 Integration incorporates RFID tags into personalized hard hats for each worker, providing mine supervisors with real-time information of their location and the state of the mine.