Hitachi has invested approximately $875 million into the Australian mining sector during the past 18 months, as the vendor attempts to drive greater adoption of digital technologies across the sector.
As part of a $1.25 billion commitment to invest in Australian Social Innovation business by 2020, Hitachi has focused the bulk of this investment in mining, in order to further accelerate the industry locally through digital advancements and the IoT (Internet of Things), before exporting such innovation to other parts of the world.
By 2030, Hitachi predicts that Australia’s mining industry will be operated almost entirely by autonomous machines.
“Game-changing innovations, such as remote and integrated operations centres, autonomous vehicles and analytics, will have been filtered down from being used only by Australia’s largest mining companies, to being commonplace across the entire industry in less than 15 years,” Hitachi managing director Atsushi Konishi said.
Such advances in technology are predicted to increase productivity and reduce costs by up to 25 per cent.
According to Konishi, this will have a “significant impact” on retaining Australia’s competitiveness in the Asia Pacific region, in addition to “major positive” social impacts such as the ability for mining employees to work in metropolitan areas.
In addition, Hitachi also predicts that by 2030 most mines will have fully integrated IoT systems that will connect all mining operations to central analytics hubs, meaning strategic decisions can be made and implemented thousands of kilometres away from the mining site.
Konishi said current strong demand for commodities has meant the market has begun to recover, despite a period of downturn.
“There are several large mining companies that are looking at Australia to implement new digital technologies in order to then replicate them in other regions of the world,” Konishi added.
“Embracing smart technology including digitisation and IoT in the mining industry is imperative for Australia to maintain its leadership position.”
As explained by Konishi, one of the key technologies that will drive the autonomous mining revolution is Hitachi’s Autonomous Haulage System (AHS).
Specifically, AHS leverages technologies developed for Hitachi’s automotive and railroad solutions as well as fleet management and dispatch system to increase productivity and lower the total cost of ownership.
Since 2016, Hitachi has made several acquisitions including the purchase of Bradken, HE Parts and Sullair.
Additionally, Hitachi has invested in smaller research projects in the agriculture industry namely a collaboration with Meat & Livestock Australia, designed to accelerate business transformation in agriculture through data analytics and IoT-led decision making.
From a local perspective, the business has also increased its Australia workforce by employing an additional 2,000 employees since 2016, with around 3,650 staff currently working across the region.