"From an economy standpoint, AI and IoT have allowed the costs of data gathering and autonomous decision making to come down. The return on investment for these services now makes sense and this has meant a shift in the market."
What have been Peytec’s main achievements in the last 12 months?
Last time we met in October 2018, we were starting to make a pilot and a proof of concept in a mining site. Since then, we have gone through the pilot project, turned the pilot into a product, made the product scalable and taken care of certification. The product is called MuckPuck™ and we have sold north of 1,000 units. We have recieved a lot of attention from the industry and proven that the business case works. This product is positioned to be the market leader, as it has a lot of benefits over RFID (Radio-frequency identification) – the most commonly used solution at the moment. RFID is used as a quality-control product for material handling. RFID has a reliability of between 70% to 80%, compared with the Peytec standard of 99%. These tags also have the issue that when buried they cannot be detected, and when a problem is detected it is too late. The MuckPuck™ tags can send their signal through 20 tonnes of muck pile, which means drivers would know in real-time what they are carrying. In other words, Peytec’s product closed the gap between automated quality assurance and quality control. This can represent considerable savings. The problem is that there was never a quality control measure to see how an operation was working. The data was qualitative and not quantitative. We can now see if mistakes are being made.
Peytec has been working with Kirkland Lake Gold. Have there been discussions to collaborate with other mining companies?
We are discussing doing pilots with other mines. This process takes time. We had to take care of the cost component because this was previously a barrier. However, the cost has been reduced a lot, making our product as competitive as RFID with lots of added benefits and reliability. Reliability has been maintained to 99%.
MuckPuck™ is a general purpose product. It can be used wherever there is a material handling tool to track muck piles, trucks or any other assets and inventory. MuckPuck™ is suitable for applications in both underground and open-pit mining.
At CEMI’s Future of Deep Mining Conference 2019 you spoke about how the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are changing the way we mine. What were the main points discussed during this presentation?
From an economy standpoint, AI and IoT have allowed the costs of data gathering and autonomous decision making to come down. The return on investment for these services now makes sense and this has meant a shift in the market.
We talked about different types of technologies such as Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN), Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), Real-time Location Systems (RTLS)– their advantages and disadvantages - and lastly spoke about Wireless Positioning and Sensing Networks (WPSN™), Peytec’s proprietary technology that is designed for mass scale hyper-accurate indoor location tracking and sensing. We also talked about how AI relies on the collection of reliable data. AI needs access to good quality data in order to make the right decisions.
Can you explain the benefits of Wireless Positioning and Sensing Networks (WPSN)?
There are many factors such as speed, reliability, flexibility, scalability, power consumption and localization. Localization is especially relevant to mines. Indoor environments are the most dangerous and if there is technology that can help locate, this can save lives. According to the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), an indoor location system with an accuracy of three meters can help save 10,000 lives a year globally.
The Wireless Positioning and Sensing Network (WPSN) is a system that uses location and sensing to build a scalable and reliable network that can position the location of moving tags in an indoor place. It has an accuracy of 10 cm. The technologies that are out there have significant limitations such as battery life and accuracy. This is why WPSN is positioned to be a breakthrough technology.
It is estimated that in the next three to five years, each person will use on average 20 IoT devices. We have the patent for WPSN™ and see it as the Google of IoT. It is a truly ground-breaking technology.
What have been the barriers to the adoption of new technologies in the mining industry? Do you think it is a lack of awareness of the technology?
It is not about knowledge. It seems like most companies have a common vision, which is to enable Industry 4.0 or mining 2.0. The problem is about strategy and company culture. Companies adapt “orphan” products and have a hard time integrating them across their company cost effectively. Often, companies focus on a specific project or product instead of focusing on the holistic corporation strategy. Sometimes company culture and payment structure gets in the way of making positive change.
What would you like to achieve in the next 12 months with Peytec?
We are currently in the branding process for our mining-related line of products Muck Puck, Muck Chuck and Muck Cube, which will be advertised separately from Peytec’s current line of products.
For IoT and AI to work we need partnerships. The market is begging for leadership, however the expertise needed to create a platform like this one is very diverse. It does not work like it does in other markets where one company rises to the top and dominates; synergies are needed and Peytec has a strong plan to meet the need of the market in 2020.