As companies strive to embrace next-gen technologies that enable digital transformation, few industries feel the pressure to modernize quite as acutely as mining. Due to persistent concerns regarding safety, sustainability and productivity – coming both from within and outside the industry – there is an urge in mining to always be operating at the ‘cutting edge’ of innovation. As an example, a 2019 EY study found that 77% of mining occupations will be enhanced and/or redesigned by 2030 due to technological advancements. But before mines can begin driving innovation at the scale to which the industry aspires, they require a connectivity foundation that can support modernization across the expanse of their massive and remote operations.
A Foundation for Innovation
The biggest challenges facing the mining industry today can be substantially mitigated with the implementation of far-reaching and reliable connectivity. While the rural settings of many mines have made such deployments historically difficult, remote operations are not as impossible to ‘connect’ as they once were. Today, Private Mobile Networks that converge available public cellular connectivity with the mine’s private network(s) can be deployed in record speed to foster seamless, secure, low-latency connectivity across a mine’s entire operation. By eliminating the network coverage gaps, interference and downtime that are inherent to solutions like WiFi, mines can foster a safer, more productive work environment.
Furthermore, the kinds of use cases the industry is most eagerly anticipating – autonomous haulage vehicles, push to talk capabilities, tele-remote operations – leave no room for error. Even minutes of machine downtime can cost mines millions of dollars and create accidents that lead to worker injury or death. To maximize the return on investment of new technologies and, most importantly, keep employees safe, mine operators need full confidence in the mission critical reliability of their network connectivity.
So what, then, does the connectivity foundation of the modern mine look like?
Simple, Agile, Scalable
To examine this question closer, let’s look at a recent example. Just last week, Kirkland Lake Gold (now Agnico Eagle) and Rogers Business launched a 5G Wireless Private Network (WPN), powered by Expeto, at Detour Lake Mine – Canada’s second largest gold producing mine. The deployment of this WPN is an industry-first achievement, and will provide enhanced coverage, end-to-end reliability, full redundancy and a low-latency network across Kirkland Lake Gold’s 80 square-kilometer operation.
The unique value of this WPN in driving the mine’s mission critical operations and supporting innovation can be summarized in three words: Simple, Agile and Scalable. These three attributes enable an Enterprise First™ approach to private mobile networking that removes telco complexity and puts the power of control directly in the hands of the on-site IT team. Equipped with this control, mines can achieve unprecedented agency to drive mission critical operations.
Much like WiFi, Rogers Business’s 5G WPN solution seamlessly integrates into the existing IT-environment. This gives mine operators a familiar and singular interface from which they can manage all network deployments across any and all locations in real-time. By removing the telco complexity from Private Mobile Networking, mines can expedite processes that used to require support tickets, phone calls and/or truck rolls to avoid lengthy resolution timelines and instead focus on outcomes.
Equipped with real-time IT control, mines are empowered to innovate agilly. They can explore a whole new realm of technological possiblities previously unimaginable due to requirements for seamless, uninterrupted connectivity. By erasing coverage gaps and boundaries, mines can begin testing and implementing cutting edge solutions such as drones that can deliver supplies to the bottom of the mine, autonomous haulage vehicles and tele-remote operations.
Such technologies remove workers from potentially dangerous situations and enable new levels of operational precision for substantial reductions in workplace injuries and meaningful improvements in productivity. (It should come as no surprise, then, that Kirkland Lake Gold has already announced their intention to explore all of these solutions – and more.)
For too long, medium-to-large enterprises have shunned private mobile networking solutions due to obscene costs, inflexibility and lengthy deployment timelines. The benefits of such a connectivity platform have long been evident – but the cons outweighed the pros. However, as this recent news out of Ontario made clear, those days are gone.
By harnessing the speed, reach and scale of 5G, mines can scale their global operations rapidly and independently. From local use cases like installing sensors in haulage vehicles that can predict needed maintenance to avoid machine downtime, to more global applications such as deploying a new international site on your existing network – the ability to move at the speed of business is finally within reach.
Dig Deeper with Expeto
Detour Lake Mine’s new WPN, powered by Expeto, is setting a precedent for affordable, seamless and expansive connectivity in the mining industry. Do some research, and you will not find any solution like it. This new breed of connectivity is poised to drive innovation at a previously unheard of rate by delivering the first fully controllable networking platform to a major mine. Equipped with the power of control, Kirkland Lake Gold can enable digital transformation on its own terms to set new industry standards for worker safety and productivity while establishing the next generation of mining technology.
It’s this kind of meaningful disruption that changes an industry. Having your network, your way is just the first step.
To learn more about Expeto’s solution for mining, click here.