How AI is Changing Mining Operations

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing the way we live and work – these days, every connected device, machine, website and IP-related asset in a company is capable of recording useful data which can be harnessed and used as a tool for business success.

AI is also redefining the future of mining, bringing new ways of learning and deep analysis to a vast range of services. Data is being collected from IoT-connected devices and nodes throughout the modern mine, and fed back to operations to keep machines running, establish efficiencies, provide reports for predictive maintenance, optimise the movement of remote vehicles throughout a mine, and so forth.

While many of these obvious data collection points exist in a mining organisation, collected data from the company’s IP surveillance cameras remains a largely untapped source. Enhanced security of a mine site using recorded data from video technology is a critical part of any advanced security strategy. Nowadays, it also brings a host of productivity initiatives and opportunities, cost efficiencies and new offerings for business Improvements.

With the increased capabilities brought by AI, video analytics can perform tasks that will have a direct impact on security, safety and efficiency.

Better brains lead to greater accuracy

Facial recognition is a case in point, with a 99.9% accuracy rate when compared to conventional sources such as manually scanning ID cards, according to a study by IHS Markit. This faster, more efficient and accurate means of identifying staff and visitors to a site provides immediate benefit such as improved security and quicker access.

When combined with an advanced access control platform, facial recognition and video analytics allow administration or security staff to instantly check a database of information on a staff member or visitor, and sound alerts if there are security issues attached to their presence at a certain part of the facility.

In addition to facial recognition, a surveillance solution built around advanced video management software (VMS) can host many other cutting-edge functions to enhance mine site safety. From identification of cars (even if the licence plates have been changed), to mapping foot traffic within a mine facility, there needs to be a strong duty-of-care to employees and still maintain ultimate control over the company assets.

Functions such as licence plate recognition allow the organisation to better manage the people and vehicles that enter a sensitive site, even give them the ability to tier security clearance within different sections of a site. This has a direct benefit on employee safety, as well as reducing the risk of theft or more sinister activities.

Video can also be subject to data access control protocols in the same manner that doors and certain areas of the facility are kept ‘off limits’, making sure that footage of sensitive areas can only be accessed by high-level administrators. Staff and facilities can be monitored at a much higher level than ever before, and sensitive data can be kept safer.

Advanced video analytics can map foot traffic of people throughout a mine site’s operation and allow for deep learning to be applied to that mapping and foot traffic. Such analysis can lead to insights on employee behaviours, mapping of inefficient workplace practices, unsafe movement throughout the mine’s facility, and much more.

Improved capabilities, more efficiency

Improving capabilities allows a mining organisation to enhance their business, also in areas not directly connected to security. Monitoring the operation of equipment and resources can have a direct impact on efficiency, especially in this age of automation.

For example, using an open-source, IP-based VMS with a network of IP cameras to detect water levels in a mine site, or infra-red cameras to monitor the operating temperature of solar panels in a remote area can lead to significant savings in both manpower and labour costs.

The same technology can also potentially save lives, as an open-platform VMS allows the camera network to be linked to an alarm system which can sound warnings when someone enters a dangerous area. Similarly, cameras can detect movement in a restricted zone, zoom in on the features of a person, and have video analytics establish who that person is.

They can be automatically checked to have the necessary approvals to enter a site – such as workplace training or health and safety certificates – and if not, an alert can be issued to administrators that an individual is placing themselves in a dangerous situation.

The gateway to a brighter future

Open software platforms allow a facility to add more cameras, with the ability to integrate and embed a wide range of third-party applications and business systems directly. This provides benefits for companies in the energy sector, allowing them to add on more surveillance hardware while integrating it seamlessly with a centralised system.

It is just the beginning.

Enhanced security, deep learning on employee movements, the integration of security and business tools, and a never-ending array of new analytics capabilities will drive efficient VMS to become a core part of any energy company’s security plan. This will enable the business to experience continued productivity benefits in the long-term.

This is excerpted from an article by Milestone Systems Asia-Pacific Director Jordan Cullis, which ran in Dec 2019 Newsdesk on the IT Brief website.