Miners are often forced to use a plethora of non-compatible vendor systems, limiting their ability to access and analyse valuable data, attendees heard today at autonomous solutions company Hexagon's HxGN LIVE event in Las Vegas.
The number of different operating systems and equipment providers that mine operators need to use makes for a frustrating user experience, said Nicholas Hare, president of Hexagon Mining.
"Mining has been long under-served from a vendor perspective. Some operators are dealing with 50 different companies and even more systems," noted Hare.
"The user experience is just really challenging and painful. We've had autonomous trucks for almost two decades but still are somehow operating in the past. All this in a world used to the usability of iPhones, Microsoft Office. This is a gap in mining right now."
Hare said that the industry needs to address such generational change, certainly if it is to attract the more diverse workforce that mining needs.
Robert Daw, chief technology officer, said that bringing younger workers with new skills into mining is important because millennials are digital natives.
"What's been really interesting is the ideas they bring. These are often challenging to us but offer very valuable insights".
Daw added that his company has succeeded in using an array of sensors deployed in the field to generate real situational awareness in operations.
"We can start at the very beginning with analytics and then move further into machine learning and AI - it can be used across the board, not just in the supply chain but anywhere in exploration, and there is the option to use drones to identify resources quick, as well as in drill and blast and fragmentation analysis."
Hexagon also today launched a platform that connects sensors, software, infield apps and cloudware called "Power of One".
Hexagon said the platform, launched at its event, can "connect the mine to the boardroom", via a single onboard ecosystem comprising a smart computer, antenna and display.
Power of One uses data from multiple sensors in a simple and consolidated software architecture, the platform helps mines to become situationally aware, self-learning and autonomously connected.