A Take on Automation in Mining
Industry experts across the globe have are of the opinion that automation in the mining sector is becoming increasingly important and is pretty much the future of the industry. History has proven that automation in any industry has always been surrounded by controversy. Here the controversy remains that the workers look at it as a threat to their jobs while the owners look at it as an opportunity for job creation. Albeit different, but job creation none the less. So yes the matter of automation in the mining industry is both exciting and controversial.
The question as to what automation in the mining industry in India will entail and how it will affect the mining equipment manufacturers in india is yet to be seen. While most private miners will see automation as an opportunity at increasing efficiencies and cost cutting, the laborers feel they will be made obsolete and be replaced by machines.
It is a given that, with newer technologies being adopted the skill requirements in the industry will shift from low to high and technical. But one cannot deny the fact that jobs instead of diminishing are being shifted to newer arenas of the industry. Retraining and re-education will be required on a large scale to meet the needs of growing automation in the industry. More lab jobs will open up to monitor the machines, operate them, analyze the data and manage it for increased efficiency.
With gap between the demand for automated machines and skilled operators for operating these machines increasing, the question remains as to who will step up to fill this gap in the market. Will mining equipment manufacturers in India take cue from other industries and start training programs to create skilled operators or will outsiders grab this opportunity. However, it is a given that people skilled in remotely controlled and automated systems will be in demand in the years to come.
While automation means better quality control, cost cutting and timely efficient work and larger profit margins, it also means increased safety for the operators who would then be able to operate the machines form a safe distance. It is a noted fact that safer mines mean better productivity. Implementation of such advanced automation however remains a question yet to be answered.
Given the remote location of sites, climatic and geographical conditions that come into play. Whether such technology can be implemented and the kind of effect it will have on overall mining operations, costs and profits will still need years to data for the industry to take a call on it.
What such automation means for the mining industry in India is still a mystery. How, the Indian sub-continent with all its geological and geographical diversity adapts to this growing wave of automation will be an interesting event to witness. Especially given the overwhelming magnitude of both the opportunities and challenges that will present itself in the times to come.