In what can accurately be described as one of the greatest sociological shifts in the history of the human race, the corporate sector’s move towards automation, which started as far back as the 17th century, shows no sign of slowing.
However, the term ‘automation’ has come to describe far more than the basic assembly line that it is still commonly associated with and actually has wide ranging applicability to the mining industry in a number of new and innovative areas.
So just what are the benefits of automation in mining?
Automation helps to streamline the overall mining process by ensuring that no time or profit is lost to poor planning or employees slacking. Thus, the optimization of a mine’s operation results in greater productivity while the fact that the business has to pay fewer employees also has the effect of lowering operational costs.
Although automation will inevitably result in the mine employing fewer people, it will also serve to ensure that the remaining employees are kept as safe as possible. Mining is dangerous work and being able to send robots or drones in the place of humans for the more dangerous jobs benefits all parties concerned.
Automation provides more control over the mining process which ultimately results in a better quality product. To be more specific, the automation of the mining process results in reduced variability in the process. Much like a golf swing, the ability to perfectly replicate the optimal process time and again is the best way to ensure consistently great results.
Mine planning software combined with various other forms of automated processes can go a long way towards promoting environmental sustainability by accurately modelling the predicted impact of an action on the environment.
This helps to improve the business’s decisions in this regard and puts to bed a c’est la vie attitude that some mines have previously adopted in relation to their operation’s environmental impact.
As humanity’s technological capacity continues to increase, the process of automation is increasingly coming to dominate industries the world over. No sector is truly exempt from the potential of automation, however, it’s certainly about time that the mining industry begins to embrace automation on an industrial scale.