5G technology promises to reshape mining by streamlining connectivity and data capture in ways never before dreamed possible. It’s a brave new world, and innovating from the front lines is what we at Mincka do best. From persistent communications to virtual reality, here’s how 5G can reshape the future of your business.
Accelerating Innovation in Mining with 5G
The last 12 months saw an acceleration in 5G pilot programs and testing across a range of industries around the world, as companies grappled with COVID-19 travel restrictions and the logistics issues that soon followed.
A 2020 study from Nokia and tech consultancy Omdia, found that 5G technology has the potential to generate up to US$9 billion in productivity improvements in Latin America alone by 2035.
In a recent interview, with Mining Magazine, the head of Nokia’s mining business, Jaime Laguna, shared his thoughts on where these savings might come from in Mining, “reliable communications are a key requirement to provide safety in mining environments where people and machines are working together. If the network fails, operations may be interrupted or halted.”
This is where 5G’s persistent network provides a new degree of certainty and functionality in mining. Data can be continuously captured and shared, with accurate real-time asset health information available around the clock.
It’s clear that 5G technology will transform how we approach and manage safety on-site, too. “5G is all about providing situational awareness, which is a factor that can enhance the current Collision Avoidance Systems by providing location awareness of machines and people and connecting the overall data needed for dangers and alarms,” Jaime adds.
Another area of mining ripe for the 5G revolution is the use of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to remove humans from potentially dangerous underground environments. Instead of delving deep into the mines, workers can now rely on fast and accurate 5G-enabled data to remotely remedy situations and perform maintenance tasks.
AR glasses and headsets can display real-time asset data, giving miners enhanced visibility in confined and difficult-to-reach spaces. Linking these systems to complex, 3D digital twins of underground mines is the next logical step.
“Underground mining could be the perfect work environment for AR or VR, as it is one of those truly 3D work environments,” says Sean Keenan, Global Natural Resources Research Lead at Accenture. “The miners are looking at the orebody from the inside, not just a 2D plan at the surface”.
Getting the balance between virtual worlds, augmented worlds, and the real world, will be a tricky process. It’s not yet clear how these technologies will standardise across the mining industry, but what is clear, however, is that this revolution is already well underway.
According to the IDC 2021 Worldwide Mining Decision-Maker Survey, 86% of mining companies plan to invest in wireless infrastructure in the next 18 months, with 5G coming in as their top priority.
At Mincka, disruptive innovation in mining engineering is at the core of all we do. Naturally, Mincka is closely tracking and working to implement cutting-edge 5G technology-enabled solutions.