Technological advancements continue to reshape various industries. The disruptive nature of technology’s innovations basically forces industries to adapt to the newest trends. Resource exploration industry, such as mining for minerals, oil and natural gas is no exception. Nowadays, the most disruptive trend that creates a lot of buzz across industries is artificial intelligence (AI). AI technology brings machine learning and deep learning capabilities, as well as advanced analytics and automation to the market.
Although still in development, AI technology is already experiencing mainstream adoption by numerous companies. The fact of the matter is that AI is quite revolutionizing on its own and companies don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to leverage its fullest potential as soon as possible. Today, AI and automation are reshaping the resource exploration industry taking it into the next digital age. So, here are a few advantages of AI and automation in resource exploration.
With the help from AI technology, operators can simplify the prospecting process. AI-powered robotics can assess the soil, identify potential ores, locate mineral veins and analyze the environment for potential hazards. AI’s machine learning capabilities can allow it to quickly process gathered information and produce actionable data that can be used for more strategic decision making.
That way, locating gas, oil or mineral prospects will be more seamless than ever before and operators can vastly improve both the efficiency and overall performance of entire processes. On the other hand, automation also has a vital role to play in such prospecting. In fact, machines, such as robots and drones can be automated to conduct blasting, drilling, ore sampling and hauling heavy materials, among other things. As a matter of fact, in Western Australia, Pilbara region, autonomous hauling trucks are being used to haul away material from local diamond mines.
Advance analytics and reduced costs
So far, one of the biggest challenges companies in the resource exploration industry have faced is the maintenance and downtime of essential equipment. Equipment is bound to break down eventually, but the time required to find replacement parts and repair the equipment only increases the operational costs. All operations come to a halt until the damage is fixed, which reduced both the performance and productivity. Fortunately, AI technology and automation provides companies with a solution in the form of advanced analytics.
As a matter of fact, AI can monitor equipment’s status and identify potential problems before essential parts break down. It can notify the operators when the part will stop functioning and automate ordering replacement parts, such as solids control equipment used in oil drilling for example. That way, operators can fix the problem as soon as it occurs, thus reducing the maintenance downtime and operating costs as well.
Nowadays, the world is more environmentally aware and people can see the consequences of climate change, which are the direct result of industrialization and fossil fuel consumption. Both companies and people want environmental catastrophes, such as major oil spills in the oceans, to be avoided at all costs. Therefore, exploration and production operators are expected to adopt a more eco-friendly solution. Luckily, AI has once again provided a solution for the issues at hand.
For example, AI-powered devices and tracking systems can monitor and assess ecological factors, such as groundwater, subterranean gas deposits, temperature and others, in order to analyze the impact of mining or drilling on the local ecosystem. That way, any negative impacts, such as ground erosions, landslides, destruction of wildlife habitats and vegetation can be avoided and prevented on time. What’s more, AI can automate monitoring tasks in charge of assessing equipment’s structural integrity. That way, AI can predict potential critical issues and alert operator of potential crisis, so that they can act on time and prevent disasters, especially on remote locations.
Improved safety conditions
It’s no secret that the resource exploration environment is hazardous at best. So far, employees who work on dig sites and mines are well-aware of the risk of the job and are willing to go through with it because the salaries are good. However, the risks can be easily avoided and employee safety guaranteed with the help from AI technology and automation.
AI’s, machine learning algorithms can be used to predict potential problems with the dig site or mine itself that have the potential to endanger employees. For example, automated drilling systems can be used to determine ore fragmentation in mines in minutes compared to hours it would take a team of geotechnical engineers to process the same information.
In addition, by combining machine learning and augmented reality, operators can have systems in place that will accurately assess the risk associated with sludge deposits in mines. Moreover, AI can detect other potential hazards, such as pressure spikes in pumps or pipes, thus ensuring that no personnel are around if a disaster cannot be avoided. Aside from that, robotic machines can be used to safely rescue trapped miners should such a disaster happen in the first place.
Technological advancements and innovations are bound to improve the industries they affect. Over the years, technology was a pioneer in improving operations and processes across various industries. Nowadays, resource exploration is about to experience vast changes due to AI and automation that are becoming widely adopted. Seamless prospecting, improved safety and more focus on the environment are just a few aspects new technology will address in exploration and prospecting of natural resources.