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Posted Jul 13, 2020 by Amber Jackson

Using Digital Twin Technology to Effectively Manage Mining Assets

Digital twin technology has become an increasingly noteworthy trend when it comes to efficaciously managing mining assets to improve daily operations and reduce costs.

This is because a digital twin is an interactive and intelligent platform which allows users to practically utilise real-time digital data for better workflow automation, change management, system optimisation and scenario planning.

Here is all you need to know about what makes a digital twin and why you should implement one into your mining operation:

What is a Digital Twin?

A digital twin is the creation of a virtual, 3D replica of physical assets, structures, equipment, or entire mining sites.

It is an accurate and dynamic copy of real-world assets, serving as a baseline with real-time SCADA data attached to it. This encompasses live IT data such as temperatures, pump pressures, flow rates, electricity consumption and much more.

However, it is important to note that a digital twin is not merely a 3D model. Rather, it is an open and connected working data environment equipped with functional intelligence such as material information about the plant, crushers, water meters and so on.

This allows users to measure distances and surfaces, perform analytics, conduct system and site monitoring and optimise daily operations using actionable insights developed from the digital twin.

Simply, a digital twin allows instantaneous changes to take place along with its real-world counterpart, providing a live stream of operational information which is available online and in real-time.

What Does a Digital Twin Actually Do?


*Digital Twin examples of complex mine structures – A Rocketmine Solution

A digital twin enables users to collect, process, monitor, manage and share information about a particular asset.

It combines reality data, engineering data and IoT data to create a holistic overview of both surface and underground infrastructures which enables users to conduct “what if” analyses and perform right-time monitoring.

A digital twin also enables project teams to automate collaboration protocols thereby facilitating efficacious co-operation.

This helps to avoid mistakes and duplication through the incorporation of multiple data sources into a centralised digital reality model, providing team members with a single source of truth.

Moreover, a digital twin allows users to visualise their mining assets across the entire asset lifecycle. This helps users to effectively track changes and conduct various analyses to optimise the performance of mining assets.

Why is it Important to Have a Digital Twin?

Having a digital twin allows you to create a digital replica of your assetswhich is data driven. It empowers users with timely, verifiable, and accessible data regarding their mining assets, helping users make better informed decisions which lead to more profitable operational outcomes.

It also offers an immersive, all-inclusive view of each component part of an asset and how they work together as a whole. This enhances asset planning, delivery, maintenance and management.

Moreover, when managing mining assets, digital twins enable users across different operational roles to combine varying asset information in a single place based on a true reflection of accurate, real-time data.

For example, Rocketmine uses a secure and user-friendly next generation cloud-based platform which enables users to visualise asset data in a centralised location. This ensures the digital twin is easily available and accessible to all the relevant stakeholders – anytime, anywhere.

A “timeline of changes” can therefore be maintained, providing a precise record of who did what and when it was done. For example, Rocketmine can build a 3D digital replica of an entire site, collecting data from the design phase to the building and operational phases which includes live SCADA data that can be visualised on the digital twin in real-time.

The data from the digital twin can then be easily used for predictive asset maintenance and management, helping identify problems before they occur and improving operational efficiency when it comes to proactively reducing failure costs and downtime.

Furthermore, when coupled with artificial intelligence and machine learning, the data from a digital twin enables better forecasting and augments safety through the simulation of future outcomes and different scenarios.

Essentially, a digital twin offers a targeted approach to systemising one’s mining assets with real-time data analytics and visualisation. This in turn allows users to become far more agile in their response to market demand.

How Do You Create a Digital Twin?

Creating an all-encompassing digital twin commences by acquiring physical asset data. Rocketmine achieves this by utilizing photogrammetric drones and LiDAR scanners to develop a comprehensive 3D reality model of the real-world asset.

Rocketmine then engages in digitally itemising and geo-locating each individual component of the physical asset and integrates this information into the digital twin. Rocketmine is also able to customise and classify all part related information based on specific deliverables required by clients such as part ID, manufacturer, model number, installation date, service data, maintenance data, PDF manuals and much more.

Rocketmine then links and centralises live asset data such as temperatures and flow rates to all individual component parts of the digital twin, allowing users to digitally visualise and monitor the real-time workings of the physical asset as they occur.

Ongoing, Rocketmine implements digital data connectors to the digital twin which provides users with high level analytics. This enables users to flag problems based on occurrences that are out of the norm and identify problem areas which warrant further investigation.

Finally, the digital twin can be used for advanced analytics and real-world scenario planning across multiple mine departments and roles to help improve operational decision making and on-site performance. This allows users to utilise IoT data for right-time monitoring and to conduct “what if” scenario planning on their site/s.

The Final Word

Digital twin technology allows users to develop inclusive 3D digital reality models of physical assets, sites, complex structures and equipment.

This affords users better guidance when it comes to real-time monitoring and maintenance, ensuring that the mining process runs as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Additionally, digital twins help make the pit-to-port process far more integrated and intelligent when it comes to managing the supply chain in its entirety.

Therefore, a digital twin is a powerful optimisation tool that will not only enhance productivity and performance but will help to achieve a competitive advantage through optimizing one’s operation.

Contact Rocketmine

If you are looking to incorporate a digital twin into your mining operation contact Rocketmine today! Our Business Development Experts are available on +27 10 271 3903 or  hello@rocketmine.com.

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