Mines are Continuing to Become More Automated: Here’s Why

Automation has truly become the light at the end of the tunnel.

It takes many trips underground to acquire the compounds from the earth needed for us to live our present day to day experiences. We are continuously hunting for the materials and resources that we rely on to run our computers, build our buildings, pave our roads, and even salt our eggs. And fortunately, over time, these processes have gradually become more automated for efficiency and safety reasons.

In Canada, automation is on the rise in mines with new specialized technology using virtual reality software and hardware, robots, and autonomous vehicles. But why would one want to join this revolution?

The following are some of the mining industry’s latest automation advancements, in addition to why they could have an impact on your operations:

Automation Tools

There are two ways automation is changing the mining industry: and that’s through industrial software automation, and labour automation. Today, virtual reality software applications can be synced with real-time information of operations, creating a more efficient and safe mining experience. The software also completes certain tasks, like creating reports to provide opportunities for professionals to focus on problems that require their attention in order to further their efficient efforts.

The equipment within these mineries are also becoming automated. Driverless vehicles, drones, and robotic excavators don’t require human assistance onboard. The humans are now monitoring the processes through automated reports linked to electrical equipment, which is relaying the functions of the hardware.

Automated Tasks

The workforce is becoming more and more automated, as many standard manual labour jobs are being replaced by robots - but a lot of the equipment is still partially automated. However, there are fully automated jobs on the rise, as well. Suncor trucks in Alberta no longer require the assistance of a human, and driverless trains have become one of the world’s largest robots in the world.

Skills Maturity

From the canary in the coal mine to present technological advancements, there is clearly an ongoing shift in the works. In order to survive in this ever-changing industry, adaptation is necessary to stay competitive.

Manual labour jobs may be disappearing, but new jobs are being created relating to the troubleshooting and maintenance of these round-the-clock, automated machines. An increase in both automation software development is only expected to rise as quarries introduce more automation machinery. This sings of prosperity for those with a background in SCADA or PLC software systems integration with instrumentation and controls and robotics.

Workplace Safety

Mining is often ranked as one of the most dangerous industries to work in. But luckily today, the workforce within the mining industry has never been safer - especially with regards to risky situations such as deep underground excavation.

In the past, miners were often susceptible to floods, gas leaks, and fires due to explosions. The mining journeymen often risked long-term health complications due to chemical inhalation, mild poisoning and the black lung. It should continue to be made a priority to reduce the risk of such fatalities as virtual reality, drones, automated equipment, and SCADA mainframes take more of a leading role.

A future of mining is safer and more efficient

As more jobs that were once carried out completely by humans are replaced with automated equipment and software, unskilled manual labour will decrease over time. Mind you, new opportunities will be created in areas like maintenance, operation management, technical support, troubleshooting, and systems integration specialists.

The mines of Moria may have been abandoned, but ours will be automated.


Posted by Reuben Siebenga | Feb 14, 2020 | Categories: Automation & Controls