Jesús Flores
Director General
Lasec
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View from the Top

Building a Smart Mine

Thu, 10/17/2019 - 13:04

Q: Why did Lasec choose to establish at the Science and Technology Park in Zacatecas?
A: We decided to settle here because we wanted to make Lasec an innovator and developer in the mining industry. This space provides an opportunity to do that. To achieve this goal, you cannot simply improvise, you need to take a very systematic approach and seek the right environment. Although we now have a special team dedicated to developing solutions, we will always remain distribution and selling partners. One of the things we try to do here is identify what changes the mining industry is experiencing and anticipate the resulting needs. Another is digitalization and automation as mines increasingly becoming smarter.
Q: What other businesses or centers do you work with at the park?
A: We are still small, but we do have several collaborations. The Mathematics Research Center (CIMAT) is helping us determine how we can meet the regulatory standards, specifically norm 29110, and provide programs of certification for our software. We have several software projects, of which many are in association with the Zacatecas State Polytechnic school. Apart from the polytechnical school, we have agreements with the Technology University of the State of Zacatecas (UTZAC) and UNAM Zacatecas. We have 25 to 30 engineers developing technology who came from these universities.  
Q: What makes LASEC different?
A: We have been working on integrated solutions for 30 years. We started with telecommunications infrastructure and now offer the energy distribution that supports it. These days, you need systems that can connect every element in a mine. We study the requirements of a client, and build the solution. These can include optical fiber systems, wire networks, and leaky feeders. Our ability to install 4G, and soon 5G, allows the use of mobile phones inside the mine. During the development of these systems we are in continuous contact with the client, and in some cases mine consultancies as well.
Q: What is Smart Flow and what benefits does it offer?
A: Smart Flow offers an alternative for the mining industry. Its primary importance is that it provides more safety. Norm 023 demands that the location of people in a mine is known at all times. Smart Flow provides a clear overview of where your assets and personnel are at any given moment. This allows you to use your equipment and personnel more strategically, and thus increase your productivity. Additionally, the system allows you to collect data about your operations. This can then be used to analyze how equipment is going to perform in the future. We are in the process of implementing Smart Flow for Grupo Peñoles.
Q: Can you provide an example of a success story?
A: Since last year, we have been involved in several assignments with Core Mining. This included infrastructure to locate people and vehicles. It also involved installing a telecommunications network for a mine using the latest technology. This mine has practically become a smart mine. The infrastructure can be used to control motors, ventilation and pumps. Another success case is our recent demo for 4G at a mine in Saucito. This was the first in Mexico, and was developed in collaboration with Huawei. This prototype has functioned well. One more example is that we have been able to install Leaky Feeder systems in underground mines with over 300km of tunnels. This is a true revolution in the industry. Lately, we have also been working on a system that uses devices to detect when individuals enter areas of the mine without authorization. This is technology that will drastically improve security.
Q: How does the company develop its portfolio?
A: We are constantly developing new projects with clients. They ask us for solutions and we offer new products. It is essential that we work together to identify their needs. We also have a strong relationship with manufacturers, such as Huawei, Ericsson, Cisco Systems, Sierra Wireless, Siemens and Schneider Electric. They come to us because we offer a very clear concept: a mine that is digitally connected.