Reinventing Mining with the Industrial Internet • The Register

Infomercial Sometimes called “black gold”, coal has been a primary source of energy for nearly every industry in the world since the 18th century. This is especially true in China, which has little oil and gas but plenty of coal, making it an essential source of energy.

At the same time, to advance sustainable development, the Chinese government has announced that the country’s carbon dioxide emissions will peak before 2030 and carbon neutrality will be achieved by 2060. Driven by these 2030/2060 goals, the Coal mining companies in China have nibbled on the bit to accelerate smart digital transformation for green mining ever since.

Hongliulin Coal Mine, for example, a subsidiary of Shaanxi Coal and Chemical Industry Group, is a major player in the industry. The Company’s coal mine is located in the Maowusu Desert between the Yulin region of Shaanxi Province and the city of Ordos in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. It lies in the heart of the Shenfu mining area, one of the eight largest mining areas in the world. The coal mined here is transported daily by more than 1,500 heavy trucks and six dedicated trains to factories across China.

Hongliulin’s Journey to Intelligent Transformation

In line with its parent group’s strategy of harnessing technological innovation to create a world-class energy group, Hongliulin has intensified its efforts to spearhead innovative, intelligent and state-of-the-art digital coal mining. industry. Achieving this transformation is not an easy task, so to stay focused and motivated, Hongliulin has set itself three goals: intelligent collaboration, improving underground air quality, and cultivating a green ecosystem by three dimensions.

To achieve these goals, Hongliulin brought in the Huawei Coal Mine team in February 2021. Their goal was to integrate next-generation ICT technologies such as cloud computing, big data and AI into the mining of coal. coal, and then created a plan to transform their network, IT infrastructure, smart applications, and integrated management frameworks. To this end, they have invested in 24 smart mining projects or systems, including full 4G/5G and ultra-wideband (UWB) network coverage, and construction of industrial video ring networks and fifth-generation fixed network. (F5G).

Additional upgrades have been made to cybersecurity protection; a modular data center; deployment of the cloud computing platform; an integrated management and control platform; an intelligent operations management system; a smart campus; a fully mechanized coal mining system; and an intelligent disaster prevention system. Many of these systems have already been commissioned.

Standardization wins

Of all the solutions provided by Huawei to Hongliulin, the digital cloud platform powered by the Huawei Cloud Stack running on the Industrial Internet network was the most important. Previously, Hongliulin invested heavily in digital transformation, but the results were disappointing due to a lack of standardization. For example, the company deployed many systems, but their APIs were not unified. This meant that much of the data generated lacked a unified format and could not be imported quickly, while data silos made it difficult to connect. The company has long suffered from these problems.

Huawei Cloud Stack Supports Hongliulin Coal Mine

Huawei Cloud Stack Supports Hongliulin Coal Mine – Click to Expand

Fortunately, Huawei Cloud Stack has helped Hongliulin unify on standard APIs, break down data silos, consolidate data assets, create digital twins, and improve collaboration to pave the way for smart mining. . This turnaround used a number of technologies. The Huawei Cloud Stack used IoT technology from Huawei Cloud for example, which could be adapted to APIs running on different protocols from different vendors.

It could also be used in conjunction with a converged industrial network based on 5G, F5G OptiX and an IP radio access network (IP RAN), flexibility which has enabled the connection of more than 2,600 Hongliulin devices.

The Huawei Cloud Stack used the ROMA Connect application and Huawei Cloud’s data integration platform to import data from more than 35 operational technology (OT) production systems and more than 10 IT support systems in a unified data lake. Centralized management was provided by Huawei Cloud’s FusionInsight big data platform, which enabled more than 100 million records to be imported into the data lake every day, while consolidating more than 100 devices and 45 system models.

Huawei Cloud’s AI-powered Pangu data mining model provides intelligent labeling and machine learning in a few taps where the model makes predictions based on a few training examples. It covers more than 1,000 mining scenarios, including transportation, mining, transport, communication, drainage and coal washing, and has helped Hongliulin reduce its development workload by 90%.

Huawei engineers took four months to identify the Hongliulin devices and import their data into lakes using Huawei Cloud Stack. They have helped Hongliulin build what he says is China’s first-ever smart coal mine based on Industrial Internet Architecture, and develop many smart applications such as integrated management and control platform, smart ventilation, smart transport, smart campus and disaster prevention.

The end result is a robust platform for integrated management, effective decision making, and service delivery.

Integrated management and control platform based on Industrial Internet Architecture

Integrated management and control platform based on Industrial Internet Architecture – Click to enlarge

Improved visibility and security

Hongliulin’s integrated management and control platform is powered by digital twins – a technology that replicates and simulates entire mining processes to predict how they will behave during data collection and analysis operations to make the whole system safer and more efficient. The simulation showcases the 138 km² Hongliulin coalfield on a 3D dashboard, allowing operators to remotely control autonomous machinery from a room above ground instead of having to work in a hazardous environment below the surface . It gives operators significant visibility of the entire mining picture with just a few mouse clicks, including how coal is mined and transported to the ground and whether shears, crushers, haul trucks and conveyors stand-alone functions as ordered.

The digital twin also enables autonomous analysis, decision-making and collaborative control over the various mining systems. For example, dispatchers can make remote video and voice calls on the surface, and underground miners can quickly assign tasks. Prior to its deployment, around 100 miners in three rotating shifts were needed to cover the peak periods of fully mechanized mining. Now, with real-time monitoring and centralized remote control, more than 40% fewer miners are needed, underground workload has been reduced, and worker safety has been significantly improved.

Operators remotely controlling autonomous machines from an above ground control room

Operators remotely controlling autonomous machines from an above ground control room – Click to enlarge

More effective workforce management

Underground coal mining generally goes through different stages, from exploration and drilling (the construction of shafts and tunnels) to mining and transportation. Traditionally, tasks, issues, and incidents were assigned, reported, and investigated verbally or in writing by staff, which was slow and inefficient. Now, Hongliulin’s intelligent operation management system has digitized coal mining operations on all fronts, including labor, machinery, materials, methods, environments, and measurements. It provides real-time operational information and has improved worker safety.

This system allows managers to quickly distribute tasks to workers in line and uses AI to replace manual foreign object inspection at specific times with a smart 24-hour inspection schedule. In doing so, it reduces the time a worker typically has to spend underground is around 2 hours, improving overall efficiency by 30%.

Together with partners such as Huawei Cloud, Hongliulin plans to continue driving its smart digital transformation while reinventing the coal mining industry using the power of technological innovation.

Sponsored by Huawei.

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