Taking the Measure of a MineThu, 10/17/2019 - 12:30
Technology is continuously providing miners with new capabilities in their operations, including tracking material, says Antonio Longoria, Director General of Skysset, which offers software solutions for measuring bulk inventory. “Our tools enable our clients to efficiently capture and measure physical characteristics at their mines. In essence, our job is to integrate the physical and digital worlds.”
Skysset’s software is mainly used in the mining, aggregates and manufacturing industries. The company was created in 2015 to fill the need for quantifying materials and aggregates in an industrial operation. “We answer the question, ‘How much do we have?’ in the easiest and most efficient way possible. Our software helps our clients use drones to create 3D models and then provides digital tools with which they can easily dissect and interpret information,” he says. “It’s a common misconception that once the drone lands you are finished. Converting physical information into data in a spreadsheet can be a laborious task. We have optimized this process so our clients can save time and money.”
The company develops its own algorithms to provide precise measurements but Longoria says the hardest part is making these user-friendly. “Our main innovation focus at the moment is usability. We want to make the interaction with our software and platform easier so our clients can understand, communicate and manage their reports with as little effort as possible,” Longoria says. In short, Skysset’s software platform, called Zephyrus, allows the close monitoring of the state and volumes of each plant, yard and mound per material, enabling better management and enhanced decision-making when it comes to the question of having enough material to continue production.
The company has also added tools to improve communication between the client and the software. “We realized we needed a better user-software interaction so the client can speak to the software in terms of how to project the layout or adjust to the geographical terrain,” Longoria explains. “While mining engineers usually fluently speak software language, we provide personalized training to ensure that our users know all the possibilities that our platform provides.” Zephyrus has a 95 percent measurement precision.
While the company offers an integral service, it can also tailor to the client’s needs. For example, the platform and software’s usage are sold based on snapshots. Skysset offers different snapshot packages depending on the client’s need for monitoring. “More snapshots imply a greater saving per unit,” he says. Regardless of the number of snapshots or the time of use, the historical information remains on the platform.
As a drone can easily capture 500 photos in one flight and this information requires a good bandwidth to be transferred, it is crucial for mines operating the drones to have an optimum latency to upload the information to the cloud faster. “Even our worst-case scenario of taking a couple of hours to update information due to bad connectivity cannot be compared to having to bring a topographer to the mine to do the measurements.” The fact that clients can operate their own flights further eliminates the need to have external people visiting the mines, cutting related costs.
As a Monterrey-born company, Skysset is focused on the northern part of Mexico but its software can be used anywhere. “Our goal is to expand to the rest of the world. We started with Mexico and Texas,” Longoria says. Its main clients in mining are Grupo Calidra and Ternium, and in aggregates, CEMEX.