African Mining Magazine recently published an article about Motion Metrics that explains how our company can help African mines improve productivity, safety, and efficiency.
AI and Smart Sensing in Motion
In a world that is constantly changing, the challenges for mining companies are multiplying. More and more, new technology is seen as the answer. Canadian company Motion Metrics has been at the forefront of the technology revolution in mining.
Motion Metrics uses machine vision, artificial intelligence, and smart sensing to address the toughest mining challenges in the most extreme mining environments. Although the Motion Metrics team is headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, they have global offices in South Africa, Chile, Brazil, and Russia which provides localized support anywhere in the world. The company’s innovative solutions have been installed at more than 60 mines across six continents, including several of the world’s largest mining houses.
In a pandemic-ridden world, business has become increasingly challenging for mining companies. The industry is depleting more easily accessible deposits and fluctuating commodity prices have put pressure on profit margins. The mining industry routinely grapples with uncertainty and is beginning to harness artificial intelligence (AI) to increase efficiency and significantly reduce costs. The scourge of COVID-19 will rapidly accelerate this transition.
One way new technology, and more specifically, the solutions Motion Metrics offers, can help mines reduce costs, is by mitigating the risk of costly crusher obstructions with products like missing tooth detection systems for shovels and loaders. Obstructions caused by missing shovel and loader teeth are extremely costly, with the average incident resulting in 12 to 24 hours of crusher downtime.
At one site, for example, installing two Motion Metrics missing tooth detection systems on the mine’s loaders prevented an estimated $1.5-million USD production loss. Many large mines, especially in Africa, use these systems to keep their workers safe and avoid expensive production loss.
Particle size analysis products can also help mines become more efficient by enabling them to optimize particle size at each stage of the size reduction process. Comminution accounts for more than 50% of the energy consumed on site, so optimizing particle size at each stage of this process can increase throughput by up to 30%. Motion Metrics offers particle size analysis products for shovels, haul trucks, conveyor belts, and in a portable format. Technologies like these that support mine-to-mill optimization will play a critical role in speeding up the economic recovery process under these trying economic conditions.
Support for African Mines
It is well known that mining companies gets the most out of new technologies when they are intuitive and packaged with strong service and support agreements. Fast, localized support is therefore a core element of any customer success philosophy and an approach that aligns suppliers with the needs of their customers.
Motion Metrics has global offices on five continents, including a location in Kathu, South Africa, with dedicated technical support specialists stationed at some of the largest mines in the region.
Having regional offices makes it possible for suppliers and service providers to provide post-sale support from well-trained technical staff. The training of staff is key to success. Motion Metrics provides remote monitoring and ongoing training throughout the life cycle of their products, using their cloud-based-data visualization platform, MetricsManager pro. Staying close to customers improves the strength of relationships and positions a company as a trusted partner for future product development.
It is not only important for mining companies to make a positive contribution in the regions where they operate, suppliers also need to contribute. Motion Metrics, for instance, recently purchased 100 Rhino Gold Bars from B2Gold to support conservation in Namibia.
B2Gold produced 1,000 ounces of Namibian gold and donated the proceeds to finance black rhino conservation efforts. Between 1960 and 1995, the black rhino population fell by 98% across Africa. The extinction of this species would spell a loss of cultural heritage as well as economic opportunity for rural communities in northwest Namibia. Thanks to a trip through South Africa and Namibia in early February 2020, Motion Metric’s CEO and founder Shahram Tafazoli learned of this crisis and has pledged that Motion Metrics plays a small part in averting this poaching crisis.
Feedback from mining companies that have successfully adopted Motion Metrics’ technology over the last four years, has been extremely positive. This in itself indicate that the market has realized the value that innovative artificial intelligence and machine vision-based products can bring to their operations. According to Motion Metrics mining companies are also beginning to see how these products can help them achieve environmental targets. Sustainability should be a key focus for all future product development.
R&D at Motion Metrics
Motion Metrics was founded as a one-man consulting company by Dr. Shahram Tafazoli, who holds a PhD in Robotics and Intelligent Systems, so R&D has always been at the heart of the company. Today, Motion Metrics is an expert team of 100+ scientists, engineers, and business professionals. They invest about half of their revenue into research and development, which is conducted at their university and downtown offices in Vancouver.
Motion Metrics values customer input and aims to collaborate with mining companies when developing new technology. TruckMetrics, for example, the company’s boulder detection and particle size analysis product for haul trucks, was inspired by conversation with an Australian customer. As part of the Motion Metrics upcoming sustainability initiative, they will be announcing a partnership with a mine in Kazakhstan to develop an exciting new technology.]
Motion Metrics solutions
Motion Metrics designs, manufactures, and tests all products to military standards at their Vancouver headquarters. The company has offices on four continents to provide fast and localized support anywhere in the world. Products include missing tooth detection for shovels and loaders, tooth wear monitoring for shovels, payload monitoring for shovels, boulder detection for haul trucks, and particle size analysis for shovels, haul trucks, conveyor belts, and in a portable format.
BeltMetrics: A particle size analysis, volume monitoring, and empty belt detection system for conveyor belts. The system uses a rugged 3D camera and machine learning algorithms to continually analyze the visible material transported by conveyor belts – no belt cuts, calibration, or scaling objects required. BeltMetrics optimizes crusher feed size and optimize production.
LoaderMetrics: A missing tooth detection system for loaders that alerts operators to missing teeth before they travel downstream and obstruct crushers. The system uses thermal imaging and deep learning algorithms to identify missing loader teeth before they damage downstream equipment.
PortaMetrics: A point-and-shoot handheld particle size analysis product. The device improves site safety because it does not require users to approach the bench face and place a reference scaling object. PortaMetrics uses a ruggedized 3D-camera and artificial intelligence to provide industry-leading particle size analysis.
ShovelMetrics: A complete bucket monitoring product for all shovels and excavators. The system uses artificial intelligence and a rugged thermal or optical camera to provide missing tooth detection, tooth wear monitoring, particle size analysis, payload monitoring, and proximity detection. ShovelMetrics improves mine safety, energy, efficiency, and productivity.
TruckMetrics: A boulder detection, particle size analysis, load profiling, and volume monitoring product for haul trucks that does not interrupt production. The system consists of a rugged stereo camera mounted on a gantry that captures images of each passing haul truck; haul trucks do not need to slow down, and TruckMetrics uses artificial intelligence to analyze all visible material in each truck tray.