The partnership between Sandvik and Cisco Systems is a match made in mining heaven, delivering productivity and safety improvements to underground mines everywhere.
The future of mining is a digital one. Innovations such as automation and data analysis have been shown to improve safety, productivity and sustainability management in the mining industry. A survey of mining companies conducted by professional services firm EY showed that 84 percent of participants “are considering having, have started or already have digital as part of their day-to-day business”.
Nevertheless, wanting to digitalize your operations and successfully and securely accomplishing the task are two separate issues, and it is critical that mining companies develop a clear approach to bridging the divide.
It is under these conditions that the partnership between two global leaders in their respective fields was born. With its cutting-edge automated and digitalized mining solutions, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology offers the equipment and knowledge to boost safety and productivity for its customers. And Cisco Systems, world leader in IoT connectivity solutions and network technology, has the expertise, experience and tools to provide reliable and secure network underground. It was a match made in mining heaven.
“When you think of mining operations, specifically underground mining, for those operations to become more effective and safer they will need the expertise of both companies,” says Jarkko Ruokojärvi, automation global business development manager at Sandvik. “Our collaboration has successfully married mining automation solutions and digitalization applications to robust and reliable connectivity that gets the different resources to communicate and interact with each other.”
It is a classic example of IT/OT convergence, where the integration of information technology systems used for data-centric computing is paired with the operational technology systems used to monitor devices, events and processes. Cisco’s validated design provides an architecture that will ensure a robust, reliable and secure network for Sandvik’s automated equipment to run on.
“Cisco provides the most secure and reliable IoT portfolio on the market. By offering a pre-integrated and tested solution, the customers will benefit from accelerated time to deployment and reduced risk. It’s a win-win-win situation as not only do our two companies benefit, but most importantly so does the customer,” says Charles Ferriera, Design-In partnership manager, Cisco.
A robust network serving powerful equipment
Over the last year, the collaboration has been delivering safety, productivity and cost-effective benefits to customers. Take the Sandvik offering AutoMine®, for instance. It offers autonomous and teleremote control of underground mining equipment to impart these benefits. In order for it to function fluidly, AutoMine requires robust network connectivity. Going forward, further mine digitalization will see an expansion from small dedicated networks to mine-wide ones in order to enable overall optimization of processes.
“In the past, if all you needed to run was a laptop underground you could use any network,” says Ken Vanthielen, Cisco IoT manager of business development. “Now your entire mining operation relies on that network, so it’s extremely important that the network is secure and reliable. We have a reference design in place the best part of which is that it has been rigorously tested by us and at Sandvik’s underground test mine in Tampere, Finland. So, when customers deploy this solution, we are putting our stamp on it that it is based on a Cisco tested and verified design. We are essentially de-risking their architecture.”
The collaboration presents customers with a high level of knowledge of the communication technologies as well as the automation applications because together, both companies and their solutions address customers’ challenges.
Founded in 1984 by Stanford University computer scientists Leonard Bosack and Sandy Lerner, Cisco Systems is an American multinational technology company. Cisco specializes in developing, manufacturing and selling networking hardware, software, telecommunications equipment and other high-tech services and products.
Another such solution – Sandvik OptiMine® – collects and analyzes data to help customers see what is happening and to make informed decisions in real time. By enabling short interval control, customers can measure what all their resources are doing and adjust the process accordingly to make production more effective.
“This type of application needs to have the connectivity to access the real time data transfer between the different types of data sources,” says Ruokojärvi. “Customers’ cost per ton goes down by minimizing any delays and using time more effectively.”
Then there are the safety benefits. With digitalization technology, combining solutions such as proximity detection with strong connectivity where people, equipment and different types of resources operate minimizes accidents. And in the worst-case scenario, if there is an emergency situation, being able to send messages to everyone or coordinate a rescue requires a network that can be easily connected to.
The two companies have only scratched the surface of what their collaboration can do for customers. As the value of automation and digitalization technologies is becoming better understood by the industry, both companies are purposefully designing their joint offering to accommodate for different scenarios that customers have in terms of mining methods and applications, as well as lifecycle stages of the operations.
“Our partnership has much room to grow,” says Vanthielen. “We started from the foundation, which is the underground network, and now we have moved to pre-integrated solutions with Design-In Cisco technology onboard Sandvik equipment. There are still multiple routes we can investigate to enrich the value proposition.”