Komatsu, GE team up for ‘big data’ mining equipment analysis

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Komatsu and General Electric have teamed up to provide ‘big data’ analysis services for mining customers, linking smart equipment with data centres and taking remote monitoring to a whole new level.

Komatsu, GE team up for ‘big data’ mining equipment analysis
One of Komatsu's 930E mine haul trucks.

Komatsu explains that the concept is rooted in the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT), which is a growing global network of physical objects from washing machines to haul trucks that are embedded with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity.

They exchange data with owners, manufacturers, operators and even other machines to create a network that’s of infinitely greater value than if they were operating in isolation.

GE and Komatsu are well suited to working together, the companies say, as GE is a global leader in this field, using IoT technology to monitor critical equipment such as aircraft engines and gas turbines, while Komatsu uses Komtrax remote monitoring technology to track the position and status of its mining and construction machinery.

The two companies have been trialling the IoT/big-data concept over the past year at a copper mine in South America, with Komatsu sending operational data collected from sensors attached to its mining dump trucks to a GE data centre in the US, where it will be processed using GE’s big-data analysis capabilities.

Recommendations arising from the trial include optimising truck routes and positioning, and adjusting speed and braking to suit terrain and site conditions.

 "GE Mining has long supplied electric drive systems to Komatsu, which is the world’s market leader in electric-drive dump trucks," Komatsu Australia managing director Sean Taylor says, describing the company as a "pacesetter" in ICT applications such as Komtrax and intelligent dozers.

"Now we want to start offering data analysis services to mining and resources companies in the near future, including iron ore and coal mines in Australia as well as other mining regions," Taylor adds.

"With the current downward pressures on commodity prices, mining companies are looking for innovative ways to reduce their operating and running costs, while optimising productivity and machine performance.

"Over the past 90 years, our approach to engineering has delivered a range of breakthrough technologies and this latest collaboration between Komatsu and GE will bring breakthrough benefits to the mining sector as a whole."

Taylor says that customers are seeing 5 percent improvements in fuel efficiency through the use of existing data analysis capabilities, but this should jump to "significantly greater than 10 percent" under the new agreement.

"There will also be flow-on benefits in terms of optimising production, reducing equipment wear and tear, and maximising machine uptime," Taylor says, in addition to optimising shipments between mines and ports by reducing stockpile volumes and holding times.

The latest agreement follows one made this time last year, when Komatsu and GE Transportation announced a joint venture – Komatsu GE Mining Systems LLC – to develop a new generation of underground mining equipment.

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