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Innovative advances in technology, including digitisation, and automation, are significantly revolutionising the mining industry. Technologies such as AI & Big Data, autonomous vehicles, drones, automated sorting, and dewatering technology are reshaping the industry. Their benefits include but aren’t limited to improving mine safety, predicting mine hazards, and sending real-time information.

By creating more sustainable mining technologies and innovations we can be confident the industry will become greener, reducing the overall environmental impacts.

Here is a snapshot of just some of the ways technology is working to transform the industry. 

1. Autonomous Vehicles

Self-driving vehicles are one of the progressions that mining companies are taking to improve the highly volatile sector. For a long time, mining has been faced with problems such as precarious conditions in the mines, lack of skilled labour, and high operating costs. Autonomous vehicles have provided a solution to this because they are safer, cheaper, and reliable. The vehicles integrate technologies such as GPS systems, two-way radio communication, and computing power to make navigation in mines safe and efficient.

2. Automated sorting

The mining industry has incorporated systems to separate valuable mineral ores from waste rock. Mining sorting equipment is not only a practical method to sort particles, but also a way to increase quality, yield, and productivity. The systems manage costs and have low downtime making mining operations highly efficient.

3. AI & Big Data

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data technologies present the mining industry with intelligent machines that work like humans and the benefits of data analytics to improve operations. With these technologies, mining is simplified because the devices can perform a variety of tasks such as drilling, blasting, and sampling. The application of AI and Big data also improves data exchange between users and reduces mining risks to workers because all risks are analysed.

4. Drones

The use of drones in mining solves numerous challenges in the industry by providing faster surveying, better blast optimisation, and improved surveillance of the mines. Data that was inaccessible or otherwise unsafe to reach can now be accessed and sent to the systems.

5. Dewatering technology

Influxes of water caused by weather conditions such as heavy rainfall can significantly slow down open-pit mining. For this reason, dewatering technology is used to handle the maximum inflow of water into the mines. These efforts reduce downtime and prevent the risk of operations.

Examples of Innovative Technology used in Mining

Different kinds of technology will benefit from certain types of mining techniques. For example, underground mines can utilise accurate noise and dust data to minimise health risks for employees or enable location tracking to keep your workforce safe. Meanwhile, surface mining, such as an open pit or open cast miners, can benefit from an automated fleet of remote-controlled equipment to help move materials with ease.

Hetech was involved in the manufacture of LASC (Longwall Automation Steering Committee) products to improve the safety of underground mining employees. 

More details here on the CSIRO website.

We specialise in the advanced manufacturing of IoT technology and electronics that can benefit the mining industry. Our Australian designed and made products can help you future proof your business, so get in touch today to find out more.

Contact Hetech and let us be your Mining Electronics Design & Manufacturing Partner.

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Mining has come out of the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic in excellent shape. Thanks to this, the industry has been able to re-evaluate its focus and identify new opportunities within the sector, ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) and innovative technology has been identified as the strongest areas for growth.

PWC’s report “Mine 2021”, has highlighted some important lessons from the past 12-18 months and what this means for the future of mining. Although the report focuses on the top 40 mining companies, the lessons and opportunities identified are also relevant to all mining companies, big and small. We’ve summarised our top points from the report for you below. 

1. Move to ESG as growth focus

With the International Energy Agency predicting a significant increase in demand for critical ‘clean energy’ minerals by 2040, opportunities lie in the growth of ESG within mining.

PWC reports that mining companies should begin to embrace more definitive ESG strategies to maintain and increase the value of their businesses, expand their opportunities, and cement their reputations as significant and valuable global players. These efforts to adopt low-carbon and more transparent strategies will open new avenues for investments and capital.

2. Rethink Supply Chains

Reliable access to goods and services is paramount. By bringing suppliers close to their operations, mining companies are able to build supply chain resilience, helping to secure reliable access to goods and services.

3. Embrace Automation

In a COVID-19 world where social distancing could continue to be part of day-to-day life, technologies that reduce the number of people onsite and increase the ability to operate these mines remotely provides an incredible advantage. Along with this, automation is working to reduce the manual labour involved in some tasks to create further efficiencies.

According to the World Economic Forum, 67% of repetitive and manual tasks and about 60% of tasks involving physical labour will be automated by 2025.

4. IOT

The industry is expected to speed up its investment in the Internet of things (IOT) over the next three years, improving health and safety and staff productivity.

At Hetech we have significant experience in supplying high-quality Australian electronics manufacturing and design solutions to the mining industry. Some of our work includes partnering with CSIRO to support their Longwall automation build, and Vanadium on the design and manufacturing of an innovative means of automating spiral splitters.

We will partner with you to develop an end-to-end turnkey solution to take your mining product to market.

Contact us now to discuss further.

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At Hetech, we have made some positive changes to our manufacturing facility in the last 12 months.

We have changed the way we consume energy, reducing our carbon footprint by installing a Tesla car charger, free for all visitors to use and recharge your electric cars and a huge 70KWh solar panel system!

Since installing the solar panels, we are now operating at energy neutrality. On average that’s 42 tonnes of CO2 that we are saving each year.

Numerous companies have embraced the green movement by using less energy and using alternative sources of energy. Hetech is one of the electronic design and manufacturing companies that have taken this step by ensuring proper waste disposal, use of solar energy, and consideration of Design for the Environment (DfE).

The lifecycle of a product through DfE includes three stages: production, consumption, and destruction.

1. Production

When efficient manufacturing processes are used in production, more sustainable products can be made. The use of the right materials is a big part of this phase. A reduction of the variety of materials used can reduce pollution, energy consumed, and the cost of production.

2. Consumption

Products are designed to use only enough power in its current state. This can be achieved by utilizing sleep modes, using batteries that lose energy slowly, combining functions in the integrated circuits, turning off segments of the circuit that are not in use, etc.

3. Destruction

At the end of their lifecycle, electronics must be thrown away, reused, or recycled. However, most electronics are not repairable, making them difficult to reuse. DfE eliminates the effect of this on the environment by recycling the components in factories to create new raw materials.

The benefit of these steps is that they reduce pollution on the environment, improve power consumption and efficiency, and reduce wastage.

Contact Hetech today to discuss how we can design your product for the environment.

According to a recent report, the smart mining industry is due to increase in value to $24,047.6 million in 2027. These economic projections are so favourable for a reason, with smart electronics helping to increase industry efficiency and reduce costs. In this post, we’re going to take a look at how smart mining is the future of the industry and what kinds of technology you can implement.

What is smart mining?

As harsh mining atmospheres continue to impact employee health and business profitability, many manufacturers have begun introducing smart mining solutions into their workforce.

Smart mining involves the use of automation and technology to reduce operational costs and increase productivity.

While some systems gather data to offer accurate information about the mine’s performance and resources, others free up essential workers by mechanising processes.

How IoT solutions can help mining

A mining system utilising the Internet of Things (IoT) involves various pieces of technology integrated over a single WiFi connection. They can help monitor emissions and air pollution, for example, to ensure compliance with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Equally, they can help implement automation and reduce costs for businesses. Vital categories in which IoT solutions are aiding smart mining include:

  • Hardware– Covering trucks, excavators, load haul dump, drillers and breakers, IoT can help automate hardware and monitor its performance from a single location.
  • Sensors– From wearable sensors for the workforce to ensure their vitals remain healthy to pollution and noise sensors, smart mining technology can help you gather data about your business’s performance.
  • RFID Tags– Otherwise known as Radio-frequency identification tags, these handy pieces of technology use smart barcodes to monitor the location of equipment. They help improve security, reducing your insurance costs.
  • Intelligent Systems– With an IoT solution, all of this information is in one place, making it accessible and easy to use.

Mining types that will benefit from smart technology

Different kinds of technology will benefit from certain types of mining techniques. For example, underground mines can utilise accurate noise and dust data to minimise health risks for employees or enable location tracking to keep your workforce safe. Meanwhile, surface mining, such as an open pit or open cast miners, can benefit from an automated fleet of remote-controlled equipment to help move materials with ease.

Hetech has been involved in the manufacture of LASC (Longwall Automation Steering Committee) products to improve the safety for underground mining employees.

More details on the CSIRO website

At Hetech, we specialise in advanced manufacturing of IoT technology and electronics that can benefit the mining industry. Our Australian designed and made products can help you future proof your business, so get in touch today to find out more.

Why risk your bottom line? A secure supply-chain management plan is vital for the successful manufacture of high-quality products, delivered to the timescales your customers demand.

1. Your production needs to continue

Regardless of where your materials and components are sourced, your operation needs to keep creating items in the volume your customers require. Opting for a national supplier if possible helps to reduce the risk of production being compromised, irrespective of the wider international situation.

2. Tensions between China and the US continue to remain high

With China and the US becoming increasingly hostile towards one another, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, companies who rely on suppliers from either of those two nations are in a perilous position. With Brexit likely to cause issues with European supply chains, there’s every reason to consider national suppliers in order to minimise the risk of unwanted delays and component scarcity.

3. Be Proudly Australian Made

Being able to market your products as “Australian made” has an enormously beneficial effect on sales. Customers want the guarantee of quality and integrity which nationally sourced and supplied products can bring.

How can Hetech help secure your product supply-chain?

Hetech has launched our Supply Chain Consultation service. We will conduct a complete supply chain risk audit, used to identify high risk components, long lead times and unique suppliers. From this an action plan is created, with the aim of enhancing supplier and component supply security.

When you choose to partner with Hetech to secure your supply chain you will receive:

  • A Comprehensive Supply Chain Audit to identify risks
  • Access to Hetech’s global reach of suppliers
  • Exceptional obsolescence management programs
  • Local support and order management

Talk to us today to get a complimentary initial assessment of your supply chain*

07 3297 9700 or support@hetech.com.au

The mining industry is leading the way in AI technology innovation, which is due, in part, to its reliance on expensive equipment. In order to succeed, the efforts of mining companies are focussed on improving their efficiency, which means developing pioneering artificial intelligence technology to speed up industrial processes and minimise errors and accidents. Some uses of artificial intelligence in the mining industry include:

Transportation

Autonomous trains have now joined autonomous haul trucks in the mining industry to transport goods without the assistance of a driver. The anglo-Australian mining company, Rio Tinto, has now put these automated trains to use, transporting goods via 240 train cars that travel over a distance of 1,700km. The innovative information technology company, the VIST Group is also implementing AI-automated transport in the form of haul trucks with the Russian coal producer, SUEK.

Security

Mining companies across the globe currently use AI sensors to monitor vibration and temperature to warn dispatchers and drivers about mining conditions that could potentially be dangerous. Leading global resources company, BHP, has provided their truck drivers with caps installed with smart AI technology to monitor their brainwaves and notify them when they begin to fall asleep to avoid accidents. Mining equipment manufacturer, Caterpillar, has stated that one of the leading causes of equipment accidents in the industry is driver drowsiness, and so they have partnered with leading AI vision company, Seeing Machines, to incorporate eye-tracking technology into a number of their mining trucks.

Sorting and granulometry

AI smart sensors are another useful tool for mining companies to utilise, as they are able to detect chunks of rocks that are too large to be crushed and may waste valuable time. Tomra has developed a smart sensor that can use infra-red rays and X-rays to detect pieces of rock in the slag stream and separate them from clay, dirt and other minerals. In fact, one of Tomra’s smart sensors managed to detect a 227-carat diamond.

See some of Hetech’s mining projects HERE

For electronics manufacturing and design services you can rely on, get in touch with the experts at Hetech today.

Designing a new electronic device from scratch is no easy task. The process can seem overwhelming at first, especially if you’re an entrepreneur or startup with little to no experience of electronics design or engineering.

But don’t let that put you off creating your dream product. By breaking the process down into a few simple steps you can easily create a functional prototype which can then be used to raise additional funds or venture capital.

So in this blog, we want to share with you our five-step process for creating a prototype electronics device.

1. Create the circuit schematic

The first step is to create a circuit schematic for your device. This is effectively the blueprint for your product. At this stage, you will need to make decisions about which topology to use and select relevant components. If you don’t have any experience with electronics design you can outsource this step to an electronics engineer.

If you do have some electronics engineering experience, you may want to create your own schematic. There are several software packages available for this but for smaller projects we recommend DipTrace. This is a low-cost software suite which is easy to learn, but still capable of creating and simulating complex schematics.

2. Design the PCB layout

With the schematic designed, it’s time to create the PCB layout. You can do this in DipTrace as well. Alternatively, your PCB manufacturer will be able to design the layout from your schematic.

If creating the PCB design yourself, you will need to obtain a specifications sheet from your PCB manufacturer. Each manufacturer uses different specifications for trace spacings and wire widths etc. So these will need to be accounted for in your final PCB design.

3. Evaluate and debug

Once your PCB has been designed you can create a prototype board. This will allow you to evaluate and debug the product in its most basic form. You will usually find a couple of issues at this stage, but don’t worry this is a normal part of the development process. Just work through the problems one by one until you are happy.

4. Program the microcontroller

Most devices these days have a microcontroller which acts as the brains of the device. This is usually programmed in ‘C’, but if you have a device which needs to be super-efficient you may want to consider Assembly language. Once again you can outsource this step if you don’t have any programming experience.

5. Create a prototype

Now it’s time to create a working prototype. Start by creating a 3D model of the device using CAD software. This will show you how the final design will look and help you create accurate costings.

Most prototypes are made using 3D printing technology these days. But if you outsource this step to an industrial designer, choose one with experience of both injection moulding and 3D printing techniques. It is quite common for inexperienced designers to create 3D models which are suitable for 3D printing but which cannot be injection moulded.

While this is just a quick overview of the electronics manufacturing and design process, you can clearly see that in just a few simple steps you can easily go from idea to working prototype.

If you would like help bringing your idea to market, get in touch with the electronics experts at Hetech. We can help you create circuit schematics and PCB designs or we can provide complete turnkey product development and manufacturing services to help bring your product to market quickly. 

Give us a call on 07 3297 9700 or complete the form here.

Having an excellent electronic design is only one element of the electronic design and manufacturing process. One other essential element you must consider is how durable and long-lasting your product will be. You must carefully consider where and how your product will be used and how you can protect your product against any harsh environmental factors that it may be subject to.

1. UV

If you have designed an electronic product that may be used outside, you must consider how UV rays will affect the quality of your product. Even if your product will not be exposed to direct sunlight, you must calculate how the temperature of UV rays may affect your product adversely.

2. Dust

Should your electronic product be used in the industrial or mining industry, you may wish to consider how dust will affect your product. On a PCB (printed circuit board), dust can cause electrical leakage and harm the resistance between conductors.

3. Moisture

If your electronic product will be used in outdoor environments, you should be aware of how consistent exposure to moisture will affect the quality of your product. Can your product handle being caught in a heavy downpour? You should have a full understanding of this before you release your product to market.

4. Flammability

How will your electronic product meet flammability standards? It is important you have a thorough understanding of this before trying to market or sell your product.

How can I protect my product against the aforementioned environmental factors?

Conformal coating is a protective layer that can be applied to your electronic product to protect it against harsh and harmful environmental factors. It is essential, however, that conformal coating is applied by an expert company to ensure the coating does not pool and no areas of your product are missed.

Contact Hetech today

Hetech is your design and manufacturing partner and can help you at every stage of the electronics design and manufacturing process, including applying and preparing conformal coating. To learn more about how we can protect your product against environmental factors, do not hesitate to get in touch with us today.

The world is an uncertain place, so it makes sense to be prepared for the unexpected. Having basic management plans (such as Obsolescence Management) in place enables your organisation to deal effectively with a threat to your product, no matter what direction it might come from. As an experienced electronic manufacturing firm, we have seen our share of crises over the years. Drawing on what we’ve learned, we’ve put together a handy checklist that provides essential pointers regarding how best to respond when a crisis looms.

Have your obsolescence management plan alternatives ready

If you’re relying on a limited number of companies to source your obsolescence parts, a glitch in the supply process could cause all sorts of problems. Ensuring you have back up suppliers ready to swing into action if needed is important for your obsolescence plan to work smoothly, no matter what’s happening in the world.

Communicate with your suppliers

The more you’re able to tell your suppliers what demand is likely to be for their parts, the easier it is for them to meet your needs. Similarly, if suppliers suspect there may be a problem with their ability to maintain supply for whatever reason, early warning helps you come up with alternatives. Hetech pro-actively keeps stock levels high, enabling us to cope with fluctuating customer demand smoothly. By communicating regularly, the chances of supply and demand matching are far higher.

Forecast product requirements

The more notice you can give your suppliers of the volume required and the deadlines you’re looking at, the easier it is for them to make sure that your order is ready to go on time. Particularly when you have a long-standing arrangement with a supplier, they will often be able to have your stock set aside months (or even years) before you need it. In the event of a crisis, this can really help.

Support local businesses

Using Australian businesses to meet your needs makes economic and ethical sense. When you use an Australian supplier, you can be confident of receiving high-quality goods that offer excellent value.

Get in touch to find out more about Hetech and what we can offer.

When it comes to developing actual physical products electronics engineers have two options: Proof of Concept and Prototyping. But what is the difference between the two stages and which one is most appropriate for your stage in the design lifecycle?

In this blog, we are going to explore the difference between the two concepts because while they are similar there are key differences between them which you need to understand if your final design is to be successful.

What is Proof of Concept?

When designing and developing new electronics products, it is a good idea to validate your initial ideas with a physical device.

Proof of Concept is an early-stage physical product which is used to test the feasibility and demonstrate the functionality of your design. Proof of Concept devices are usually constructed using off-the-shelf components and development kits to keep costs down and speed up development.

Proof of Concept designs are also useful for forecasting the cost of manufacturing. Often product designers add functionality which is not strictly necessary but significantly adds to the cost of the product. A Proof of Concept can help designers focus on the functionality which is needed and remove everything else.

Finally, Proof of Concept can also be used to create a minimum viable product to showcase your product to investors. Entrepreneurs are more likely to get funding for a new product if they can show a physical device to potential investors.

What is Prototyping?

Prototypes are constructed later in the development cycle, usually, after the schematics and PCB design have been completed. A prototype should be based on the final “real-world” product and allow end-users to carry out extensive field testing of the device.

The prototype stage is one of the most important in the product design lifecycle. Prototypes should be used to uncover any problems which were not predicted during the design and feasibility stage. This ensures all issues are corrected before going into full production greatly increasing reliability out in the field.

Get in touch

If you would like more information about Hetech’s electronics design and prototyping solutions, get in touch with us using the contact form here or give our team a call on +61 (0)7 3297 9700 to discuss your project further.

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