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Digitalised Mining – now focusing on business development

The PIMM Project successfully demonstrated how front end loaders could be precision remote controlled using a mobile network – 400 metres underground. The driver sits above ground controlling the vehicle from an office. The focus of this follow-up project, PIMM DMA, is on business development and the preparation of concept packaging.

“When you think about it, it’s astonishing that this hasn’t been done before but nobody really knew how to address the market,” says Peter Burman, programme manager at Boliden, referring to the collaboration between major Swedish companies to achieve new methods for mining ore in safer, more productive mines.

Boliden test site

In this particular case, Boliden is the client, providing a test site for the project and requirement specifications for the services developed.

“We have no ambitions regarding ownership rights for developed solutions; we are only interested in purchasing equipment and functionality,” he continues.

The other participants in the project, suppliers of equipment and solutions, are collaborating under the leadership of RISE.

The completed PIMM Project covered the installation of a state-of-the-art mobile network in the mine, sufficiently fast and reliable to remote control underground vehicles and drilling rigs. Network services were developed to be included in the mine’s connectivity and performance beneath the surface is better than overground. There is also an extremely precise positioning system for machines and people working down in the mine.

“The PIMM Project was exploratory in nature. Our intention with the follow-up project is to mature and package services,” says Peter Burman.

Packaging and business development

Among other things, this involves developing Service Level Agreements (SLAs) stating the levels of quality to be delivered. Should the system be remotely repaired and, if so, should this be done by Boliden’s personnel or another party? How long will response times be? This is an industry in which large sums of money are at stake, in the region of SEK 200-300 thousand per hour, and any standstill will be impossible to compensate for subsequently. Perhaps critical spare parts will need to be stored on site?

This work is a form of packaging and business development of the technical accomplishments. When the technology becomes available, its components must be assembled on the user’s terms if offers are to be identified that are attractive to the market. For Telia, one of the partners in the project, issues include making it possible for the customer to purchase varying levels of security.

“When we begin a collaboration and actually build applications, the connections become clearer. Written specifications are tested. National test platforms are good and they work; the key is to assemble a good consortium,” says Peter Burman.

Can be utilised in other industries

Peter Burman believes that the developed concept solutions can also be utilised in other industries.

“If security demands can be met in mining environments, it should be of interest to foundries, steelworks and paper mills.”

Eilert Johansson of RISE also believes that the project contributes to the digitalisation of other sectors of Swedish industry.

“RISE will be able to apply much of the knowledge gained in the PIMM Project to other industries and other social challenges. One example is that the principles for shared data, security and business models developed for mines can be recycled when RISE develops solutions for future mobility solutions,” he explains.

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Eilert Johansson

Chef inom strategisk forskning och affärsutveckling

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Published: 2018-10-15