Mauricio Takashima
Country Manager Mexico
Furukawa Electric LatAm
View from the Top

Fiber Optics the Future of Mining

By Paloma Duran | Tue, 09/28/2021 - 05:08

Q: What are the main difficulties miners have regarding communication systems and why is Furukawa the best choice to solve them?

A: Communication is very important in every sector. In mining, the biggest difficulty is that the facilities at some companies are out of date, which makes the transition to Mining 4.0 difficult. We help the industry by providing optical solutions with a higher bandwidth than are available at many facilities. Also, some miners fight electromagnetic interference; our fiber optics eliminate that challenge. Fiber optics is an essential mining technology for the future. If customers install it today, it will last at least 25 years.

Q: How can miners ensure that Furukawa’s optical fibers are tailored to their needs?

A: Furukawa not only supplies materials but also provides consulting to better guide customers who are inexperienced with fiber optics. The most important factor is to support our clients and find the best solution according to their requirements.

When we do consultations, we always consider the CAPEX and OPEX of our clients, demonstrating the monetary advantages of using fiber optic cables versus copper. Our clients then realize that investing in fiber optics is much better and more competitive than other traditional solutions.

Q: What benefits do the company's solutions bring to miners?

A: Fiber optic cables do not need as much space for the installation of cables, which saves resources for companies. When using copper cables, every channel (length of 100m) requires the use of switches in the transition to the new channel, which is why many companies tend to spend more money on equipment and larger installations, in addition to  require more energy consumption. Fiber optics perform up to 20km without the need for equipment in between (only on the edges: OLT and ONT), saving significant resources. In addition, these cables offer higher data rate and transmission standards, better resist high and low temperatures and have greater corrosive resistance against oils, greases and chemicals, which are common in underground and open pit mining.

Q: What infrastructure or resources does a company need to have to start using your solutions?

A: Furukawa’s solutions adapt to any mining environment, including harsh environments. Since many companies have not yet dealt with fiber optics, they believe they need a very different infrastructure to implement our solutions. But it is quite the opposite. If companies already have an infrastructure where copper cabling is used, it can be adapted to fiber optics.

Q: How does Furukawa introduce its solutions to the mining sector?

A: We are working hard in Sonora. We are strategic partners of the Sonora Cluster and offer webinars every month to promote our IoT portfolio, which has a wide range of solutions for the mining sector. With this alliance, we are not only getting closer to large companies but also to equally important suppliers. So far, we have had a very positive response. The sector is traditional, but companies are increasingly interested in using our technology.

Q: What role do you want to play in the development of the industry?

A: There is increasing talk about Mining 4.0 and we believe that we can play a key role in the sector’s transition. We are the only telecommunications manufacturer that provides complete solutions. We provide optical cabling and also supply equipment and accessories. In addition, we have key alliances that allow us to offer a comprehensive solution.

Q: What new technologies or solutions would you like to introduce to Mexico?

A: One of our most important tasks is to create better protections for our optical fibers so that users do not have problems. Industries like mining have a heavy work environment, so cables often get damaged. Our biggest challenge is to provide better protection for cables that are designed to last at least 25 years.

Q: What is Furukawa currently working on?

A: We are constantly updating and seeking to improve many aspects of our optical fibers and industrial equipment as the mining sector continues to grow throughout Latin America. We believe that Mexico has a great opportunity to benefit from our technologies, since its mining industry needs to be more efficient and lower its costs.

Furukawa Electric Group operates in the communications, energy, electronics and industrial systems, automotive and mining sectors. The company provides fast and robust solutions to meet communication infrastructure demands around the world.

Paloma Duran Paloma Duran Journalist and Industry Analyst