The Importance of Automation in MiningBy Lorenzo Núñez | Tue, 06/01/2021 - 09:37
Q: What are the challenges for the automation business in the mining industry?
A: Truth be told, automation used to face many challenges. However, due to the pandemic, there are now more opportunities for these technologies. Companies that did not use automation services were forced to close, which led to a reconsideration of their use in the industry. Other companies with a small, automated processes, expanded these technologies into other parts of the operation. Operations such as remote monitoring allowed them to continue working.
In our case, while we offer a lot of different automation services, companies want to know what they are getting themselves into. A misconception is that automation systems replace human jobs, when in fact, you get better safety and quality in the operation, and the equipment needs to be maintained by human operators anyway. And the people who get replaced by an automated system are moved to an area where they are more effective.
Q: How does the maintenance of your automation systems work?
A: We rely heavily on our customer service support. What sets us apart from our competitors is that we frequently visit our clients according to their needs, even when the mines are located in remote areas. We manage anti-fire systems, such as hydrants, as well as weighing systems, control, automation, connectivity, lighting and more. This is how the Maintenance of our automation system works in a very efficient way for our clients.
Q: What added benefit does Multiled provide and how does that translate to improved operations?
A: We have great experience with specialized clients like Peñoles, Newmont, Fresnillo PLC and other large mining companies in the country. We have had projects where we have replaced the alarm system, as well as the anti-fire system. In one case, we worked with a contractor that built mine anchors. If a mine anchor is badly built, it puts the entire operation at risk. We helped them by automating many of their processes. This has provided them with better efficiency and higher quality anchors, as well as reducing production costs. We are with our clients from the very start, from the design to the installation, training, maintenance and even providing a supply of spare parts to improve our clients’ operation and productivity.
Q: What is the reality of automation and digitalization in the Mexican mining industry?
A: The Mexican market wants to see results and tends to look for solutions that have already been proven to work. Mining companies cannot afford to install a piece of equipment that has not been proven to give good results. Stakeholders are looking to optimize everything and yield better results. That is why our job is so important. We want to be an ally. We have introduced new products to the market, but this involves having a closer relationship with the companies. These relationships allow us to test new equipment in the field before actually installing it as part of the operation.
Q: What opportunities do you see in the area of education to boost the technification of the industry?
A: Due to the pandemic, the industry is exploring new technologies to improve efficiency. There are also experiments with hybrid work environments where some of their operators work from home. In Australia, for instance, the mining industry is becoming nearly 100 percent remote, meaning there are few people working at the actual mine. With AI technologies they have been able to create a digital mine twin of their existing project, and that has allowed these new work environments to function properly. I do not believe that the Mexican mining industry prefers older technology. The fact is that there was never a clear reason for the industry to switch to newer technology until the pandemic arrived. Education has to arise to the challenge to make this a reality in Mexico.
Q: What are Multiled’s plans for 2021 and beyond?
A: We are expanding our solutions. We are putting our own twist on the automation business. We are beginning to develop our robotics sector, which is an interesting and important solution for the mining industry. We want to dive deeper into our sensor solutions because they will give us a whole mix of solutions, allowing us to better adapt to our clients and help them to boost their own development, results and productivity. We want to have a greater impact on the Mexican market and we also have our sights set on Central and South America.
Multiled specializes in automation products and specialized devices, such as controls and instrumentation, with the objective of improving operational processes and safety.