The Technology Centre has already started working with local underground hard rock mines that are focused on technology to improve their productivity. Hosea Molife, manager of the Sandvik Technology Centre, said that the key objective of the facility is to make mines safer and more productive using digital technology.
He added: "Our starting point was an OptiMine implementation for the monitoring and tracking of underground mobile equipment and customer support for a MySandvik project."
The mine management can see equipment location and productivity at any point, thanks to hardware installed on the equipment along with software that gathers and transmits operational data. This data is then automatically analysed, giving the customer dashboards for decision making.
Ian Bagshaw, territory manager at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, explained that the company's technologies ‘take the lid off' the mine to reveal real-time information, for example tonnes mined and holes drilled. The Technology Centre can also make the data useful to the customer using a variety of Sandvik solutions. For instance, the My Sandvik customer portal can provide up-to-date information for equipment monitoring, the OptiMine analytics and process optimisation solution can integrate resources and optimise processes, and the Automine mining automation solution can automate mining activities.
According to Bagshaw, technology-focused customers in the region have welcomed the Sandvik Technology Centre. He added: "These customers are certainly leading the way globally in the platinum mining sector. There is a strong safety element in the digital journey, as machine automation can help keep operators away from the workface and other potentially hazardous areas of the mine."
Molife said that there are three projects currently underway at the Sandvik Technology Centre. One site is using the My Sandvik solution on 100 machines, another is installing OptiMine on a 76-unit fleet and a single unit pilot project is using Automine to create an initial trucking loop.
Molife commented: "The beauty of our facility is that it can be quickly ramped up as demand grows, allowing us to serve a growing customer base as mines see the practical value of applying digital technology. There has been considerable interest expressed by the region's mines to date, with potential projects for the Technology Centre emerging in South Africa, Botswana and possibly further afield."
Bagshaw added that as well as installing the hardware and software, Sandvik is working closely with its customers in the region on how best to use the reports as they move away from paper-based and static data platforms. He concluded: "Building these reports into their daily operations and real time decision making will bring the productivity value add."