Canadian Manufacturing

Schneider Electric calls for Industry 4.0 acceleration in mining

In mining, the acceleration of digitization has manifested itself in various ways, primarily industrial automation and the implementation of remotely managed data-driven systems.

November 19, 2021  by CM Staff

Industry 4.0 gets a wake-up call: The need for digital transformation in mining (CNW Group/Schneider Electric Canada Inc.)

MISSISSAUGA — The COVID-19 pandemic has had profound effects on our lives that transcend health-related matters. It has forced entire industries to rethink operational processes and core business fundamentals, and one of the most remarkable outcomes is the acceleration of digital transformation strategies.

In mining, where adoption of Industry 4.0 traditionally has lagged behind other industries, restrictions imposed by the pandemic served as a wake-up call to automate and get connected. With much of the workforce having to work from home, mining companies were forced to evaluate their processes and technologies to embrace industrial transformation to drive agility and operational efficiencies.

In mining, the acceleration of digitization has manifested itself in various ways, primarily industrial automation and the implementation of remotely managed data-driven systems designed to improve day-to-day operations and lay the groundwork for predictive maintenance. Remote connectivity has various applications in mining, from tracking assets and workers to equipment monitoring to troubleshooting. With troubleshooting, technicians on site can connect remotely to engineers who walk them through the steps to fix or restart a piece of equipment.

To support IT/OT convergence and connected operations, the mining industry is deploying Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and edge computing networks. IIoT networks transmit data captured from on-site sensors and edge networks, which make it possible to process and analyze the data in real time by keeping it as close to sources and users as possible.

Advertisement

All the changes taking place in mining raise several challenges. Perhaps the biggest one involves securing IP-connected systems against cyber threats. As mining operations deploy new systems and become connected, they must ensure that everything is protected through cybersecurity best practices and technologies. Cyberattacks are an ever-present danger as evidenced by recent ransomware attacks against the Colonial Pipeline, and meatpacker JBS. To help protect against cyber dangers, in 2017 six mining companies formed a non-profit group to share threat information and security best practices.