Open architecture provides clients with flexibility and efficiency in autonomous mining deployment.

Mining operations are the ideal application for autonomous equipment, potentially increasing efficiency and workforce safety.

To this end, FLANDERS has developed an open-architecture autonomous system for surface drills. The system intends to provide customers flexibility and efficiency in autonomous drill deployment, enabling them to operate any drill and integrate it into their fleet and fleet management system (FMS).

The hope is that this type of development will help meet growing demand in the industry, with the number of autonomous systems around the world expected to grow by more than 300% by 2023.

Designing open automation systems gives FLANDERS the flexibility to use a broader array of protocols and components. An open approach provides significant benefits to customers, including:

  • Optimized system performance with access to the latest industry technologies, programming languages and communication protocols.
  • Future-proofing is assured with adherence to open standards to ensure continuous compatibility with the latest technologies (such as evolving protocols).
  • System development speed is maximized due to familiar industrial programming languages and compatibility with standard components.
  • Open automation’s flexibility provides a wide choice of compatible best-in-class components.

Open autonomy technologies use open standards to facilitate visibility and control of systems without direct human interaction, relying heavily on open standards, such as ANSI/ISA-95 and those advanced by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). These standards are fully defined, published, and voted on by industry experts from suppliers and mining companies — ensuring an absence of bias.

An open approach avoids vendor lock-in and allows customers to choose preferred technologies independent of their primary industrial systems. Furthermore, it enables highly skilled autonomy suppliers to integrate with customers’ existing operations while backed by a proven expert in the industry.

Josh Goodwin, Product Development Manager, said, “The mining industry has proven to be at the forefront of deploying early-generation autonomy systems because the business case has been clear for operators.

However, even years after early deployments, less than 5% of drills are autonomous in mines worldwide.

“We strongly believe an open autonomy architecture enables customers to speed up autonomy adoption,” Goodwin added.