Digital Twins In Mining

Author: Ankitha VP
June 5, 2024
Digital Twins In Mining

Visualize a future in which mining operations function flawlessly, utilizing real-time information and streamlined procedures that boost productivity, security, and profitability. Doesn’t it sound like a strange goal? Not any longer. With the introduction of digital twins, this dream is coming into reality.

The mining sector has always been difficult and demanding. It deals with issues such as the growing need for minerals, decreasing mineral levels, cost increases, social and environmental concerns, and quick technological advancements. There are many pain points like this. When it comes to successfully tackling these issues, traditional approaches frequently prove inadequate. 

Here’s where digital twins in mining enter into action.

So, what are digital twins in mining?

Let’s start!

What are Digital Twins in Mining?

Digital twins are digital copies of real assets, structures, or operations used in mining. These digital equivalents give mining businesses access to real-time data and observations, allowing them to proactively evaluate and improve their activities.

Businesses can replicate different situations, anticipate possible problems, and make data-driven decisions by incorporating digital twins into mining processes. This method dramatically lowers operating expenses and downtime while simultaneously increasing efficiency.

Digital twins, for instance, can examine drilling trends and recommend more effective strategies. They can also evaluate how various mining processes affect the extraction of resources, assisting you in selecting the most efficient ones. With this data-driven strategy, you can be confident that your procedures are set up to produce the most with the least amount of waste.

Benefits of Digital Twins in Mining

Because digital twins make operations healthier and more effective, they have the potential to transform conventional mining methods completely. 

So, here are some of the benefits of digital twin mining. 

Benefits of Digital Twins in Mining

1. Enhancing Operational Efficiency

Consider having an online assistant watch over every facet of your mining business at all times. Digital twins make that contribution. 

Digital twins allow monitoring and analyzing data in real time by generating a digital duplicate of physical assets, systems, and processes. Mining businesses can use this ability to ensure that everything is operating smoothly, discover inefficiencies, and streamline procedures.

For example, digital twins are able to forecast when an equipment component is going to break, which enables prompt repair and prevents costly interruptions. In addition to extending the life of the equipment, predictive maintenance helps to guarantee that activities run smoothly and without disruption. 

Digital twins, in short, enable mining businesses to work more productively while conserving resources and time.

2. Improving Safety and Risk Management

Because the mining workplace is by nature unsafe, safety is of the utmost importance. Digital twins offer comprehensive insights into operational circumstances, greatly improving safety and risk management. By modeling different scenarios, digital twins can anticipate potential risks and recommend preventive actions.

Digital twins, for instance, can analyze geological information to identify spots of instability in a mine. With this information, businesses can ensure employee safety by proactively reinforcing certain areas. 

Moreover, response groups can receive real-time data from digital twins in a critical situation, which enables them to act swiftly and decisively. This preventive approach to security has the potential of avoiding fatalities and saving lives.

3. Sustainability 

Digital twins present a feasible solution to the mining sector’s increasing urgency to reduce its negative ecological impact. By maximizing resource utilization and decreasing waste, digital twins help promote more environmentally friendly mining methods.

Digital twins can assist businesses in selecting the most environmentally friendly solutions by simulating the ecological impacts of various mining methods. They may, for instance, track emissions and resource usage in real-time, allowing businesses to make changes that lessen their environmental impact. This ability is essential for mining businesses trying to boost their sustainable reputation and comply with regulations.

Please read our blog on Digital twins and sustainability to understand how digital twins help in the sustainable development of products or services. 

4. Cost Reduction 

Lowering operating costs is one of the most appealing advantages of digital twins. Digital twins save mining companies money by streamlining procedures and eliminating errors.

Digital twins, for instance, can improve drilling performance and cut down on resource and labor waste. Mineral extraction becomes more effective, increasing productivity while lowering expenses because of its accuracy. 

Furthermore, digital twins’ predictive maintenance ability is associated with fewer expensive replacements and delays. Thus, digital twins dramatically reduce costs by maintaining streamlined and successful processes.

5. Resource Optimization

Resource optimization is essential in a sector where equipment and supplies are costly and frequently in short supply. Businesses may make the most of their resources by using digital twins, which offer comprehensive information on resource use.

Digital twins, for instance, can monitor raw materials, energy, and water usage to pinpoint locations where resources are being misused. Businesses can then implement plans to save waste and boost productivity, promoting sustainable behaviors while simultaneously increasing profits. 

Digital twins in mining enable businesses to meet their operational objectives more sustainably by guaranteeing that resources are used as efficiently as feasible.

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Digital Twins Mining Optimization

Consider possessing the capability to monitor your complete mining business using multiple viewpoints, monitoring every machinery and procedure instantaneously. That is the capability of digital twin mining.

Now, we can look into the critical aspects of digital twins mining optimization.

1. Real-Time Monitoring 

With real-time monitoring, you can ensure that each component is operating correctly and effectively by monitoring everything closely.

Digital twins, for instance, can continuously monitor the performance of mining machinery. This implies that you can take quick action by identifying irregularities or decreased efficiency as soon as they occur. This continuous monitoring minimizes downtime and sustains production by avoiding minor issues from becoming bigger ones.

Furthermore, using digital twins for real-time monitoring involves more than merely identifying problems. It also involves performance optimization. By reviewing real-time data, you can make quick adjustments to ensure that every part of your mining operation is operating at maximum efficiency.

2. Predictive Maintenance

One of the digital twins’ most notable advantages is its capacity to facilitate predictive maintenance. In the past, maintenance in the mining industry has been primarily reactive, taking care of issues as they arise. This may result in costly repairs and unanticipated interruptions. Digital twins change this, allowing you to anticipate when maintenance is required before a problem happens.

Digital twins gather and examine data from your device in order to spot trends and anticipate any malfunctions. 

For example, if a digital twin notices strange noises in a conveyor belt, it can notify the maintenance staff to look at it and fix it before it falls apart. By using predictive maintenance, you may increase the lifespan of the machinery and reduce unplanned downtime.

Predictive maintenance reduces expenses while simultaneously increasing operational effectiveness. Early problem-solving helps you save money by preventing expensive breakdowns and lowering the need for regular maintenance, which increases your business’s efficiency.

3. Process Optimization through Data Analysis

You may enhance your mining procedures with the vast amount of data that digital twins offer. You can find errors, simplify processes, and make well-informed decisions that increase performance by examining this data.

Digital twins can also assist you in comprehending how various operations in your mining operation interact with one another. Digital twins enable you to test ideas and assess their effects before applying them in reality by modeling numerous scenarios. This feature lowers the possibility of operating disruptions and guarantees that the modifications made are successful. 

The Role of Digital Twins Robotics to Boost Mining

Consider robotics as the skeletal muscle and digital twins as the brains of your mining business. When combined, these two produce an effective and precise powerhouse.

Role of Digital Twins Robotics to Boost Mining

The combination of robotics and digital twins is revolutionizing mining. By integrating real-time data analysis with modern robotic technologies, mining businesses may achieve greater environmental responsibility, increase security, and optimize productivity.

For instance, autonomous vehicles with cutting-edge sensors can drive through mining areas and gather data continuously. The digital twin receives this data and processes it to maximize routes, prevent barriers, and improve overall efficacy. The robotic systems and the digital twin provide a continuous feedback loop that guarantees optimal operation at all times.

Moreover, predictive maintenance is made possible by combining robotics and digital twins. Digital twins are able to anticipate when a component is about to break by constantly tracking the state of robotic equipment. 

As a result, downtime is decreased, and expensive repairs are avoided through prompt repair. To increase efficiency even more, the robots themselves can be configured to carry out specific maintenance duties independently.

One such real-life example of the role of digital twins robotics to boost mining is Rio Tinto’s Autonomous Haulage System. In April 2022, Rio Tinto and Scania began further trials on Scania’s 40-ton-payload autonomous mining trucks. The experiments soon achieved a significant achievement: driverless performance in a load and haul cycle simulation setting.

By utilizing Scania’s autonomous mining trucks, mining footprint, power consumption, and infrastructure requirements can all be decreased. At appropriate locations, this can also result in lower capital and operational costs.

The system’s ability to remove human drivers from hazardous situations has dramatically increased safety. Robotic vehicles are also more productive since they can work continuously without taking breaks. 

Reshape your business with digital twins

Overcoming Challenges in Implementing Digital Twins in Mining

Although digital twin mining operations are revolutionary, they are not without challenges, just like any other advanced technology.

So, let’s look into some of the significant challenges of digital twins in mining.

Challenges in Implementing Digital Twins in Mining

1. Increased Initial Investment

Digital twin implementation and development demand a large upfront cost. This covers the price of IT infrastructure, data analytics software, and sophisticated sensors. This upfront expense might be a deterrent for many mining companies, particularly smaller ones.

2. Cybersecurity Issues

The growing dependence on digital technologies raises serious concerns about cybersecurity. Critical operational data is transferred and stored in digital twins, making them vulnerable to hackers. Strong cybersecurity safeguards are essential to safeguard sensitive data.

Please read our blog “Digital twin security” to understand the security standards to be followed.

3. Data Integration and Management

Data integration is one of the main issues when using digital twins. Mining operations produce large volumes of data from various sources, including production research, environmental information, equipment sensors, and more. It takes skill to incorporate this data into a coherent digital twin model. For the digital twin to offer insightful information, data timeliness, regularity, and correctness must be guaranteed.

4. Competencies and Knowledge

Digital twin implementation and maintenance require specific knowledge and abilities. Mining companies typically lack experts with expertise in data analytics, IoT systems, and digital twin technology. Hiring new employees or retraining current employees can be difficult and time-consuming.

5. Change Management 

Major adjustments must be made to methods and procedures in order to integrate digital twins into current mining operations. Implementation processes may be hampered by employee resistance to change and the difficulty of integrating new technology with legacy systems.

Also read: How Toobler Helps Companies Become Digital Twin Ready? Here

Solutions and Best Practices

  • Investing in Scalable and Modular Solutions

  • Implementing Robust Cybersecurity Measures

  • Leveraging Pilot Projects

  • Building Skills and Expertise

  • Effective Change Management Strategies

Transform your operations and achive your goals with the power of digital twins

Final Thoughts

A digital twin in mining operations is definitely a revolutionary step. The advantages of increased operational effectiveness, increased safety, decreased expenses, and optimum resource utilization exceed the difficulties.

Digital twins are making real-time data, predictive maintenance, and process optimization possible, and they are completely changing the mining industry. However, you must connect with the best digital twin companies to get the right information on its implementation.

At Toobler, we’re experts at developing and deploying digital twins that help companies meet their operational objectives. Our knowledge guarantees that the sustainability, efficiency, and safety of your mining operations are maximized. 

Contact us right now to find out more about digital twins in mining operations and how they are reshaping the industry.