Intelligent transport in the mining industry

For several years now, intelligent transport solutions have been revolutionising the way we move around in cities. Globally successful applications such as Waze, Google Maps or Uber are part of our daily lives and undoubtedly inject efficiency and quality into our lives. But it is not only the city that presents us with important mobility challenges. In a large mining site, up to 5,000 trips can be made daily by large mining trucks (capable of carrying 300 tons and with an average value of $5 million each). Unlike what happens in cities, these trips are essentially managed and optimized manually, injecting variability and inefficiency into the process.

To support this process, large mining companies use so-called mining dispatch systems, whose market is today concentrated in a few players.

What does a mine dispatch system do?

Its main function is to determine the appropriate flows of trucks between the different origins (loading equipment) and their corresponding destinations. In correspondence with these calculated flows, the dispatch systems indicate in real time to the operators which is their next assigned task (e.g. "go to shovel 14 and then to primary crusher") by means of screens installed for this purpose in the trucks' cab.

What opportunities do these systems have?

The few actors who provide these systems have not succeeded in integrating new technologies into the product. Thus, solving the problem of optimizing the mining loading and transportation process seems a distant challenge. The products offered by these actors are recognized worldwide by:

Its lack of interoperability, i.e. the ability to talk to other systems to facilitate coordination and synchronisation between different processes. The market-leading dispatch system does not even read the shift extraction targets.
Its lack of innovative behaviour. By using old optimisation algorithms that were designed for the limited computational capacity that existed in the 1980s. These limitations mean that the algorithms tend to oversimplify reality, to the point that they model the mine operation as if the ore were moving in a continuous flow.
Their high level of complexity to manage, operate and adapt. The limitations described above force dispatchers to constantly and MANUALLY configure dozens of confusing parameters, which ultimately define the performance of the process.

How does Octopus Mining Suite help?

Our first Dispatch Autonomous Setting module is, in simple terms, an "autopilot" for the dispatching system in the mining industry. This module, based on our motto of intelligent interoperability, is able to read the mining targets set for the shift, interoperates with different systems to capture real-time status of the operation, and through advanced artificial intelligence algorithms, optimises, standardises and automates the configuration of the dispatch system.

Our second module is Shift Handover Autonomous Coordinator, a tool designed to optimise the shift change process, indicating the optimal locations of trucks at the end of the shift and efficiently assigning operators in the passenger transport system to take them to their break. The tool seeks to minimise operational losses, while maintaining the main objective of fulfilling the mine plan.

Finally, a virtual assistant accompanies the dispatcher throughout the shift. Octopus Co-Pilot allows to project, design and simulate multiple scenarios, through the modification of parameters and configurations of the mine operation in order to formulate recommendations to achieve the best results.

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