Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions’ newly launched technology centre in Harare, Zimbabwe, is, the company says, assisting the region’s mining industry on a journey into the digital future.

The Sandvik Technology Centre has already begun working with technology-focused customers in underground hard-rock mines locally to raise the productivity bar. According to Sandvik Technology Centre Manager, Hosea Molife, the facility’s key aim is to use digital technology to make mines safer and more productive.

“Our starting point was an OptiMine implementation for the monitoring and tracking of underground mobile equipment and customer support for a MySandvik project,” Molife says.

He explains that hardware is installed on the equipment, together with the software, to gather and transmit operational data, allowing mine management to view equipment location and productivity at any time. The data is automatically analysed giving the customer decision-making dashboards.

Ian Bagshaw, Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions Territory Manager, says the technologies employed by the company essentially ‘take the lid off’ the mine, revealing vital real-time information such as tonnes mined and holes drilled. The technology centre can make use of various Sandvik solutions to render the data useful to the customer. These include MySandvik for equipment monitoring using up-to-date information, OptiMine for integrating resources and optimising processes and AutoMine for automating mining activities.

Bagshaw highlighted that the Sandvik Technology Centre has been welcomed by technology-focused customers in the region.

“These customers are certainly leading the way globally in the platinum mining sector,” he says. “There is a strong safety element in the digital journey, as machine automation can help keep operators away from the workface and other potentially hazardous areas of the mine.”

There are already three projects underway at the technology centre, according to Molife. The MySandvik solution is being provided to 100 machines on one site, while OptiMine is being installed on a 76-unit fleet and AutoMine is initially being used to create a trucking loop for a single unit pilot project.

“The beauty of our facility is that it can be quickly ramped up as demand grows, allowing us to serve a growing customer base as mines see the practical value of applying digital technology,” Bagshaw says. There has been considerable interest expressed by the region’s mines to date, with potential projects for the technology Centre emerging in South Africa, Botswana and possibly further afield.

According to Bagshaw, applying Sandvik’s digital solutions is the beginning of a journey for mines, as they move away from paper-based and static data platforms.

“In addition to installing the hardware and software to generate real-time data for mines, we also work closely with customers on how best to utilise the reports,” he says. “Building these reports into their daily operations and real-time decision making will bring the productivity value add.”

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