Industrial IoT Is Having a Huge Impact on the Heavy Industry

September 13, 2018 - 4 minutes read

The Internet of Things (IoT) isn’t just impacting smart homes and retail. It’s also having a huge impact on business operations on the sea with Rolls Royce Marine and at mining companies like Rio Tinto.

Sailing the Seas With IoT

Rolls Royce Marine is working on a ship that needs a minimal human crew; the end goal is to sail the seas with a completely virtual group. Using big data, the company wants to revolutionize the shipping industry.

Mikael Makinen, the President of Rolls-Royce Marine, is excited about the technology, saying, “Autonomous shipping is the future of the maritime industry. As disruptive as the smartphone, the smart ship will revolutionize the landscape of ship design and operations.”

The company already created a ship for a demonstration in 2017; the ship can work without a crew because it’s outfitted with IoT sensors that collect multi-dimensional data in real-time. These sensors include various radars, cameras, night vision, thermal imaging tools, and LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging).

A captain, located remotely, gets this data in an easy-to-understand format and can make decisions from it in real time. These ships can also use IoT to keep track of their own health status, detect and identify surroundings, communicate with nearby vessels, and use data to make real-time decisions.

Rolls Royce wants to put a whole fleet of autonomous ships into full-time status on the high seas by 2020.

Making Mining Trucks Truly Autonomous

London-based Rio Tinto is a world-leading mining and metal company. The company introduced its Mine of the Future program in 2008 with the launch of fully autonomous haul trucks.

Rio Tinto’s former CEO, Sam Walsh, is proud of this revolutionary feat: “I smile when I hear the rush to develop autonomous vehicles by Uber, Google and pretty well every car company on planet Earth. Rio was the first mining company to introduce fully-autonomous haul trucks in 2008.”

The company uses IoT to predict when maintenance is required and alert executives to preventative maintenance needs. With this IoT application alone, the company saves $2 million daily whenever they avoid a truck malfunction. Rio Tinto now uses 69 autonomous trucks, making it the largest owner/operator of autonomous haul trucks in the world.

The company also introduced the AutoHaul Project in 2008, to haul iron ore to port facilities autonomously. The trains are proven to make it to their destination faster than a human-driven train at a rate of nearly 20%. IoT allowed the company to create a central controls center in Perth, Australia that currently oversees 16 mines.

An Infinite Landscape

Rolls Royce’s and Rio Tinto’s innovative progress in using IoT is inspiring. But this is just the beginning; IoT developers are set for a lifetime of new innovation because the landscape of applications is so broad.

We can’t wait to see how other players in the heavy industry are leveraging IoT’s abilities. What’s your favorite IoT application right now? Let us know in the comments!

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