Miner South32 has signed a three-year digital transformation deal with General Electric which will include the roll-out of Industrial Internet of Things platform, Predix.
The platform is an edge-to-cloud architecture that augments industrial operational technologies to connect industrial equipment, run data analysis and provide real-time insights.
The system will enable South32 to make fast, informed decisions, GE said, and provides the opportunity to optimise entire operations, rather than individualised assets and equipment.
“Bringing the world of operational technology and information technology together to monitor equipment and systems remotely and predict future behaviour is a game changer,” South32 CEO Graham Kerr said. “It has the potential to identify and solve a problem before it affects operations.”
The partnership will see GE assist in the development of South32’s technology roadmap and steer its ongoing digital transformation.
Speaking to analysts as part of South32's half year results in February Kerr said the company – which has a portfolio spanning 10 operations and five countries – would be increasingly focused on digitisation and technology as a means of boosting productivity.
Earlier this year, the mining company, which was spun out of BHP Billiton in 2015, commenced trials of an autonomous drone platform at its Worsley Alumina mine.
“By partnering with GE, we have an opportunity to transform the way we work,” added Ricus Grimbeek, chief technology officer at South32. “If we get this right, the result won’t just be an incremental improvement but a new level of efficiency and performance.”
GE eyes mining market
The partnership is GE’s first with an Australian mining company in the digital space, and the company said it was an initial step towards playing a much bigger role in the global mining sector.
“The future of mining is digital. With data and analytics, we can achieve greater levels of productivity, operational efficiencies, and improve safety,” GE CEO and chairman, Jeff Immelt said. “We look forward to working with South32 to help them optimise their operations and accelerate the digital transformation of the mining industry at large.”
GE Australia, CEO Geoff Culbert said the partnership opens up the potential for a whole new market.
“Successfully transforming the mining sector for the digital age poses an enormous opportunity for Australia,” he said. “This is innovation at industrial scale in an area where Australia can lead the world and I applaud South32 on their vision. We look forward to partnering with them and discovering what's possible."