Driving sustainability in mining through connectivity

Imerys provides mineral-based solutions for various industries, offering high-value, and functional innovations to sectors including construction materials, mobile energy, steelmaking, agri-food, automotive, and personal care. With a presence in 142 countries, the firm operates approximately 100 mines, using a mix of both owned and contractor mining fleets.

From ambition to action

Committed to responsible practices and striving for sustainable growth in environmental, social, and governance dimensions, Imerys faced a challenge in achieving complete visibility of its fleet. 

With no consolidated view of the fleet, it’s often that equipment operates sub-optimally, resulting in unnecessary costs, project delays, and a detrimental impact on the environment. An obvious solution for Imerys is to use live machine data to highlight inefficiencies, as and when they are happening so that they can be actioned immediately. 

Aware of this, Matthew Jones, group mining director at Imerys, states: “We don’t come from a history of having a strong mind set of data capture in our mine environments, so we’re not giving ourselves the right information to challenge the way we’re working and we’re not really measuring. Therefore, we aren’t managing our operations as well as we could be.”

The proof is in the pudding 

Having first established a partnership in 2020, MachineMax embarked on an ambitious project to connect 100% of Imerys fleets across all their mines. As a firm actively advocating for responsible growth and the attainment of ESG goals, Imerys introduced MachineMax’s data solution to actively reduce carbon emissions. Almost two years down the line, the project is paying dividends with significant savings and a reduction in carbon emissions.

The result was a 3-10% decline in carbon emissions and a 25% reduction in fuel consumption. This achievement highlights the effectiveness of innovative, data-driven decision-making in nurturing sustainable business operations.

Key metrics such as utilisation, idling time, and location had the most significant initial impact on Imerys. These metrics revealed patterns in operational inefficiencies, including excess on-site equipment leading to underutilisation, inappropriate equipment affecting productivity, inefficient site layout causing excessive idling and travelling, and suboptimal operator behaviour.

“Before MachineMax, we would have each manufacturer or supplier using a different telemetry system to provide reports, sometimes on a daily/scheduled frequency – but never live. MachineMax provides a portal where all information is presented on one screen in one place and one format. No matter who supplies the equipment or who it’s made by,” says mobile plant supervisor Alfie Jones.

Ed Buscombe, mobile plant manager, supports this: “Benefits include a reduction in idling time, which we notice, and that brings other benefits, such as reduced fuel burn. This helps our CSR targets as well as the benefits for our CO2 emissions. So, it’s clear that there are some excellent benefits from the system.” 

The path ahead 

Jennifer Thompson, CPO of MachineMax, says: “Implementing our solutions has enabled Imerys to enhance the identification of idling periods exceeding five minutes, prioritising larger idling periods and pinpointing where these inefficiencies are occurring in real-time. This proactive approach empowers onsite teams to swiftly identify bottlenecks, process inefficiencies, and significant improvement opportunities. 

“In the future, this data will enable Imerys to compare the performance of different OEMs, detect anomalies indicating potential equipment failure, uncover potential fuel theft, and assess opportunities for enhancing and quantifying operator performance.”

This is just one example of the boundless potential for the mining industry if it embraces a simple and scalable method for collecting and leveraging machine data.

Jennifer Thompson is chief product officer at MachineMax.


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