Digitalization in Mining


The RWTH Institute of Advanced Mining Technologies, AMT for short, receives 1.3 million euros in funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program for its SIMS project. SIMS is the first mining demonstrator project at RWTH Aachen University to receive external funding.

The aim of SIMS, which stands for Sustainable Intelligent Mining Systems, is to demonstrate the functionality of technologies which are soon to be introduced to the mining market. Furthermore, its responsibilities include communication between the mining sector and the general population, which is to result in a so-called “social license to operate.” The idea is to promote a better understanding of mining and its necessity in the general public.

Two Key Technologies

The SIMS project is based on two key technologies, which have been further developed by the Institute over the last few years: ultra wide-band technology, UWB, and infrared thermography, or IR. UWB finds application in the localization and positioning of vehicles, which is important as systems such as GPS do not work indoors or underground. Trials have shown that the technology is capable of localizing machines with an accuracy of up to 25 centimeters. The SIMS project seeks to demonstrate that the positioning functionality can be coupled with other technologies, such as inertial navigation.

Infrared thermography is being used in the project for two use cases. First, infrared cameras shall make it possible to automatically detect the material composition of the mining face. Furthermore, the technology is being used to detect tiny cracks in the ceilings of mining tunnels, which may indicate future rockfall hazards. So far, these types of detection have been carried out manually by humans; now, with the help of IR cameras, such analyses can be conducted outside of danger zones, improving the safety of both humans and machines.

The Institute of Advanced Mining Technologies

For several years, the AMT has been conducting research on technologies for a sustainable and efficient extractive industry. The key objective is to implement Industry 4.0 technologies in the heavy duty machinery industry and in the mining sector. The institute, which was formerly named Institute for Mineral Resources Machine Technology, has changed its name to reflect its changing focus from traditional mining through digitalization and informationization and other advanced mining technologies.

Source: Press and Communications