Open partner ecosystem for autonomous mining
01 July 2019 | Web Article Number: ME201914853
HITACHI Construction Machinery (HCM) has announced its vision for autonomous mining — an open, interoperable ecosystem of partners that integrate their systems alongside existing mine infrastructure.
“Grounded in support for ISO Standards and a drive to encourage new entrants into the mining industry, HCM is pioneering this open and interoperable approach to autonomy among global mining technology leaders,” the company said in a statement.
It said that with the announcement, it was publicly declaring support for standards-based autonomy, adding that it would offer its interoperable technology to assist mining customers in integrating new vendors into their existing infrastructure.
Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Hideshi Fukumoto said this was grounded in the company’s philosophy for its partner-focused Solution Linkage platform.
“Open innovation is the guiding technological philosophy for Solution Linkage. Based on this philosophy, HCM is announcing its commitment to championing the customer enablement of autonomous mining through an open, interoperable ecosystem of partner solutions,” he said.
“We believe this open approach provides customers the greatest flexibility and control for integrating new autonomous solutions into their existing operations while reducing associated risks and costs of alternative approaches.”
The HCM Group is developing this open autonomy approach under the Solution Linkage initiative, a platform already available to HCM's customers in the construction industry now being made available to mining customers with support from HCM subsidiary Wenco International Mining Systems. Solution Linkage is a standards-based platform grounded on three principles: open innovation, interoperability, and partner ecosystem.
“In this context, open innovation means the HCM Group’s support for open standards to enable the creation of multi-vendor solutions that reduce costs and increase value for customers. By designing solutions in compliance with ANSI/ISA-95 and ISO standards for autonomous interoperability,” the company said.
“Solution Linkage avoids vendor lock-in and offers customers the freedom to choose technologies from preferred vendors independent of their fleet management system. This approach future-proofs customer technology infrastructure, providing a phased approach for their incorporation of new technologies as they emerge.”
According to the company, this approach also benefits autonomy vendors who are new to mining, since they will be able to leverage a HCM's technology and experience in meeting the requirements of mining customers. “The HCM Group’s key capability of Interoperability creates simplified connectivity between systems to reduce operational silos, enabling end-to-end visibility and control across the mining value chain.”
Customers using Solution Linkage can connect autonomous equipment from multiple vendors into existing fleet management and operations infrastructure. Interoperability also affords mines a systems-level understanding of their pit-to-port operation, providing access to more robust data analytics and process management.
“This capability enables mine management to make superior decisions based on operation-wide insight that deliver end-to-end optimization.”
The company said that its open autonomy approach rests on creating a partner ecosystem in which customers and third-party partners can leverage HCM’s experience and open platform to provide autonomous functionality and reduce the risk of technological adoption.
“This initiative is already working with a global mining leader to integrate non-mining OEM autonomous vehicles into their existing mining infrastructure. Likewise, HCM is actively seeking customer and vendor partnerships to further extend the value of this open, interoperable platform.”
The company added that if autonomy vendors had already been selected by a customer and were struggling to integrate into the client’s existing fleet management system or mine operations, Hitachi may be able to help using its Solution Linkage platform.