Huawei Mining brings digitisation through collaboration

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On 10 May, the African Mining Indaba entered its second day at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

Huawei detailed the technological breakthroughs they can give the sector using 5G, the Huawei Cloud, and Artificial Intelligence through their newly formed mining subsidiary, Huawei Mining, at their Digital Mining Summit on Stage D.

While Huawei Mining can explain how their unique products and solutions can make mines safer, more productive and more intelligent, hearing how their innovative products and solutions have altered the operations of their partners hammers home the point even more.

Huawei and the Mandela Mining Precinct signed a memorandum of agreement in October 2021, and the two have been working together on developing Wi-Fi 6 based underground real-time information management solutions in mines since then. The value of this joint endeavour was highlighted at the Indaba by Jean Jacques Verhaeghe, Project Manager of the Mandela Mining Precinct.

In the mining business, the ability to make real-time judgments is critical because a delayed response can mean the difference between life and death. To do so, they must work past legacy systems in the mines and ensure that the network they use is robust enough to send signals from deep inside the earth’s core, which is where Huawei comes in. It’s only a matter of time before they find out how to achieve this real-time communication, given their extensive experience establishing equipment in remote locations and their high-speed 5G internet. According to Verhaeghe, one of the things they need to work out in order to make this a reality is how to connect the mines’ existing DSL and analogue communication systems to WiFi 6. When this project succeeds, mines will have access to not only real-time communication but also data generated by these solutions. This information will aid in the advancement of the industry in terms of safety and production.

The Royal Bafokeng Platinum Mine in the North West is a partner with practical expertise with Huawei’s solutions and products. Karina Geyser, their Information Management Manager, discussed the significance of Huawei’s relationship in facilitating their creative underground Internet of Things (IoT) and digital journey.

The mining industry, as one of the country’s oldest businesses, has its own operational procedures that have evolved over time, and there is a reluctance to change them by adding digitisation because of the philosophy of “if it is not broken, do not fix it”. “You have to adapt or die,” says Geyser. “Optimising your business operations by adding technology is one of the core foundations for you to fulfil your potential and become more efficient and productive,” she explains.

The Royal Bafokeng Platinum Mine now has access to data generated by their machinery and other operating equipment, thanks to the digitisation of their machinery and other operating equipment. This information allows the mine to keep track of the performance and faults of its equipment and to build a synergy between units that previously operated in isolation. “Nothing talks to each other when you have so many separate systems. Because there is no synergy, you can’t make decisions in real time,” says Geyser. Because machines are constantly monitored and function better together, the digital journey has resulted in streamlined operations that are safer for the mines. To do so, they needed high-speed, dependable internet supplied by a 5G network, as well as a cloud-based application to process the data, both of which Huawei offers.

But Huawei is capable of much more. In his presentation, Xu Jun, Huawei Mining’s Chief Technology Officer, mentioned the innovations that his team has made to achieve their aim of a unified reference architecture. His team believes that mining equipment should function together rather than in silos. To accomplish this, they adapted an operating system for use in the mines from the one they already had on their phones. This system is built with security in mind, ensuring that the data from the mine does not fall into the wrong hands. It includes automatic networking capabilities that allow data from the machines to be retrieved and sent to the miner’s device. This reduces the chances of data entry errors and boosts efficiency. The data is processed and the relevant notifications are issued using artificial intelligence (AI) done by cloud-based apps. All of this is possible thanks to Huawei’s infrastructure, 5G internet, and Huawei Cloud.

There is no doubt that digital is the way of the future. It is run intelligently by artificial intelligence and is powered by high-speed networks. Data is securely saved in the cloud. Collaboration is vital to innovation,” says Geyser. “It is the only way we can all enjoy this new world. Based on these two examples, it’s clear to claim that partnering with Huawei is one of the best ways to propel your company forward.”
Sphumelele Ndlovu

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