Using data to efficiently run your ‘mini-cities’

By |  October 12, 2016

Once every four years the mining industry gathers to share ideas and get a firsthand look at the newest equipment and technology. MINExpo is for all mining sectors – from gold to coal, from iron ore to aggregate. A common theme running through this year’s event was the idea of data collection and the use of that data to coordinate all aspects of a mining operation.

Trimble calls it the Connected Mine, while GE Mining labels its version the Digital Mine. Many companies exhibiting at MINExpo were discussing similar concepts, in full or in part.

MINExpo had only just begun and there I was wearing a virtual-reality headset and staring at the future. The “future” was actually a 3-D representation of a mine that appeared to be projected in front of me. This was Trimble’s new HoloLens, which “enables companies, designers and creators to work with three-dimensional data in order to bring products and information to life,” says Scott Erickson, general manager, Microsoft HoloLens.

“Trimble’s implementation of the technology via the Trimble Connected Mine solution is an example of how visualization can generate business benefits.”

The Trimble Connected Mine is an integrated and complete view of mine data that is used to improve and accelerate operational and strategic decision-making. The company says the idea combines mining expertise, spatial technology, business analytics, visualization and decision support tools to enable mining companies to fully optimize their resources for safe, productive and profitable mining.

GE Mining says the idea is designed to boost efficiency and drive improved safety and productivity. This advanced data technology and analytics, GE Mining says, could save the industry billions of dollars. According to the company, “Each mine is a mini-city, requiring power, water and transportation. Intelligent, real-time monitoring across the mine allows operators to make data-driven decisions that improve equipment reliability and optimize mine operations.”

Will your operation be a Connected Mine or Digital Mine anytime soon? A GE Mining representative conceded that the Digital Mine concept is only very slowly trickling down to the aggregate mining sector. But as aggregate mines get larger and as this technology becomes more commonplace, it’s only a matter of time before more aggregate operations use data collection across the board to coordinate all aspects of their operations and raise their efficiency to new levels.

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About the Author:

Darren Constantino is an editor of Pit & Quarry magazine. He can be reached at

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