A Guide for Embracing Digital TransformationThu, 10/17/2019 - 10:48
In the process of embracing technological innovation, Francisco Bolaños, Architect IoT/ Digital Transformation Latin America at CISCO, believes there is a simple formula for success. “When a technological design is aligned with business objectives, every single piece of the implemented technology will directly or indirectly generate savings and income for the company,” he says. “Technology is the key to increase safety and security and to better structure procedures so people can be more productive in a safer environment.”
When it comes to safety and security in mine operations, Bolaños argues that the first step must be to track the location of all miners working in dangerous areas. In Mexico, NOM-123, Chapter 5.9, specifies that every company with people working inside a mine needs to track each worker, and preferably in real time. “Wireless technologies allow companies to achieve this goal through devices such as RFID Tags,” he says. “The long-term vision is to have these devices monitor biometrics to measure workers’ vital signs.”
Biometrics will be the next technological breakthrough for safety in mine operations as the industry will finally be able to monitor the health status of its people in real time. For example, if a miner has high blood pressure and can only be sent to a certain depth, this kind of information can prevent accidents, in turn ensuring the continuity of the operation. “Miners are highly concerned about ensuring the well-being of their workforce, so biometrics is an industry request to technology developers such as CISCO,” says Bolaños.
Although biometric monitoring is still not widespread in Mexico, miners have very little time to catch up. “NOM 123 was released in October 2012, allowing a two-year window compliance. Yet, many companies have not yet enforced the regulation and others are just in the process of adopting sensors that can provide workers’ locations,” Bolaños explains. “Latin America is lagging behind other jurisdictions that are more likely to embrace technological advancements, such as Canada and Australia.”
To bridge this gap and while biometrics passes from science-fiction to reality, Bolaños emphasizes that companies are focusing on implementing a standard infrastructure that allows them to start profiting from the application of technology in their businesses. In the case of CISCO, wireless location systems, networks to connect several technological silos and collaboration systems to increase workforce productivity are the most demanded solutions in Mexican mining. “We are working extensively with the top mining companies worldwide to create digital mining,” he says. “In Latin America, our goal is to leverage our technology and the vision of a digital transformation applied to mine processes.”
According to MIT Sloan Institute 2017 DBIT data, over 40 percent of mining companies in Latin America are already trying to enforce a strategy for digital transformation and another 30-35 percent are in the middle of the process. “Over 60 percent of mining companies in the region are looking for ways to benefit from technology applied to business processes,” Bolaños says.
The ultimate goal of such digital mine infrastructure is to connect the operations and business network to provide real-time indicators for enhanced decision-making. “When the two pieces of the network are separated, CEOs cannot make informed decisions. As metals deals are often executed through an online bidding process, updated information is crucial,” Bolaños adds.