ABB’s digital transformation of mining celebrated on AFR’s Most Innovative list

ABB has a proud history of innovation in Australia, and we are honoured that this year, our work on a digital mining solution has been recognised by the AFR BOSS Most Innovative Companies.

ABB is immensely proud to celebrate its inclusion on the Australian Financial Review BOSS Most Innovative Companies list for our groundbreaking collaboration with global gold miner Gold Fields to implement one of the world’s most digitally enabled underground mines.

Innovation, productivity gains and sustainability are closely connected at ABB, and our leading-edge software solutions enable us to support our customers’ digital transformation in a rapidly evolving environment.

ABB has been a partner to the global mining industry for more than 60 years and has leveraged the data and domain experience accumulated over that period to develop interoperable digital platforms that vastly improve productivity and contribute to reducing industry emissions.

To stay competitive in today’s mining environment, companies must become more flexible and agile in how they manage their operations – Gold Fields is leading the way.

Gold Fields aims to be one of the most digitally connected, innovative miners in the world, and chose its Granny Smith Gold Mine in Western Australia as the flagship for transforming operations. ABB is excited to be working with Gold Fields to solve the challenges associated with underground mining and drive greater returns from its investments in infrastructure and technology.

Granny Smith Gold Mine in Western Australia, picture cc Mining Technology

Operational oversight in underground mines is typically limited. Using ABB’s mining-specific Operations Management System (OMS), Closed Loop Scheduler and Fleet Management System (FMS), in tandem with a new communications network, and sensor-enabled location technology, Gold Fields will achieve visibility and control over the whereabouts and operational state of critical assets. Its employees will be able to communicate directly with Mine Control via computer tablets that will also allow them to exchange relevant documents and receive OMS-generated adjustments to scheduling in response to unforeseen disruptions.

Using real-time data, ABB’s operations and fleet management systems can maximise deployment of equipment and orchestrate the workforce to progress more seamlessly from task to task, adapting to events as they occur.

McKinsey & Company reported this year that underground mines account for 40% of global mining operations across numerous commodities and deposit types. In already congested underground environments, which cannot safely accommodate more personnel or equipment, digitisation will bring greater efficiencies from mine workflows and processes.

Back in 2015 McKinsey had already identified that mine digitalisation, including machine learning and artificial intelligence applied to data generated via the Internet of Things (IoT), could save the industry $373 billion by 2025, primarily by raising productivity, reducing CO2 emissions and waste and improving safety.

ABB Australia’s ambition to accelerate efficiencies in mining contributes in turn to reductions in the carbon footprint of Australia’s resources — an increasingly important requirement for trading on global markets.

We’re excited that ABB has been recognised for its ability to combine deep domain expertise with technology at the frontiers of digital development. Industry 4.0 is here and we look forward to further supporting the Australian mining industry to develop the most competitive, safe and sustainable mining practices in the world.

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About the author

Stuart Cowie

Stuart Cowie is the head of ABB Australia’s Industrial Automation Process Industries business, where he oversees ABB’s automation and electrical solutions across industries such as mining, metals production, pulp and paper, and cement. Stuart joined ABB in 1998. In 2002, he was appointed General Manager of Industrial Automation in New Zealand before moving to Australia in 2012 to take on the role of Service Manager for the Process Automation before being appointed to head the Process Industries business in 2016. Stuart has over 35 years experience in the paper, metals and mining industry and through this time he has been involved with sales, service and project management of automation and electrification projects. Stuart holds a Higher Diploma in Electrical Engineering from Witwatersrand Technikon in South Africa; a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of South Africa; and earned his MBA from the University of Auckland in New Zealand.
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